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Controller of Programmes for BBC1: Doctor Who (2005)
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Lorraine HeggesseyBorn: Friday 16th November 1956 (age: 67)
Lorraine Heggessey was the Controller of BBC1 from 2000 to 2005, and is widely acknowledged as the person responsible for the return of Doctor Who in the 21st Century.
Graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Language and Literature, Lorraine Heggessey first worked for the Westminster Press Group working on local newspapers before being accepted as a trainee for BBC News in 1979. Proving her mettle, she became producer for current affairs programme Panorama in the early 1980s. Over the next few years she then joined Thames Television to work on This Week, and then for independent production company Clark Production working on Hard News and Dispatches, made for Channel 4.
Returning to the BBC, she founded the viewer feedback series Biteback and also worked on documentary series Underworld before moving to the science department, where she went on to become Editor for QED, and then executive producer for Animal Hospital and The Human Body.
In 1997 she was offered the role as Head of Children's BBC, which she accepted on behalf of her children as she explained to the Independent: "short of taking over Hamleys, this was the next best job for them." Then in 1999 she was promoted to Director of Programmes and Deputy Chief Executive for BBC Production, which was responsible for supervising the BBC's output across the channels.
Notable activities during her career to then had included working with director Ken Loach to investigate the practices used by journalist Roger Cook for Hard News, obtaining the first interview with 'Mad' Frankie Fraser for Underworld, and the high profile dismissal of Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon in 1998 (in which she appeared on screen to present a special one minute explanation as to why this had occured).
It was on 1st November 2000 that she became Controller of BBC1, the first woman to achieve such a role in the organisation. Alongside the BBC's Controller of Drama Commissioning, Jane Tranter, she was responsible for the creation of a number of enduring BBC television series, including Spooks, Waking the Dead, and Strictly Come Dancing.
A fan of the work of Russell T Davies and of Doctor Who, in September 2003 she commissioned a new full series of Doctor Who under his leadership after some thirteen years out of production at the BBC; considered a risky venture at the time, bringing about the return of the Doctor is now viewed as perhaps her most successful decision as the show enters its 50th Anniversary year in 2013. In 2005 BBC1 was named "Channel of the Year" at the Edinburgh Television Festival based on her reinvigoration of the channel, though Heggessey herself had moved on in April 2005, a couple of weeks after Doctor Who triumphantly returned to our screens.
Post-BBC, Heggessey worked at Talkback Thames, overseeing the production of high-profile series such as The Bill and The X Factor for ITV1, QI for BBC2, and Green Wing for Channel 4. During this time she also delivered the Stephen Poliakoff dramas Friends and Crocodiles and Gideon's Daughters - programmes she'd commissioned herself for the BBC whilst there!
In 2012 she become co-owner and Executive Chairman of Boom Pictures, a Cardiff-based independent production company.