BBC Names Piers Wenger Drama Chief

Piers Wenger
Courtesy of BBC

The U.K. public broadcaster says the Channel 4 executive will start in the fall.

The BBC has named Piers Wenger its new controller of BBC drama commissioning, starting in the fall.

Charlotte Moore, BBC controller of TV channels and iPlayer, made the announcement on Tuesday. Wenger replaces Polly Hill, who earlier this year moved to ITV as its new head of drama.

Wenger, most recently Channel 4's head of drama, will be responsible for commissioning across the U.K. public broadcaster's portfolio and overseeing more than 450 hours of drama a year.

"Piers is a brilliant creative leader with great taste and a passion for writing," said Moore. "He has a breadth of experience and knowledge of the global industry, as well as a real understanding of audiences. BBC drama is in exceptional form and I’m thrilled that Piers will continue to build on this and enhance our world-class reputation. I’m really excited by his ideas and vision, and I’m looking forward to working with him and leading BBC drama to future success.”

Said Wenger: "I have had an unforgettable and brilliant time at Channel 4 and it is with real sadness that I am saying goodbye. But the scope and scale of BBC drama make this an irresistible challenge, and I could not be more excited about joining the talented team there and for the new relationships and creative adventures which lie ahead of me at the BBC."

Wenger had been head of drama at Channel 4 since 2012, commissioning original scripted drama across both Channel 4 and E4.

"He has been responsible for launching popular series and award-winning shows," the BBC said. "Over the last four years, he has successfully increased the range of drama on the main channel and shifted the emphasis to include more returning series. Indian Summers, Paul Abbott’s No Offence and Humans were all re-commissioned for second [seasons] following strong ratings performances. In 2015, Indian Summers recorded the highest ever overnight in 20 years for a Channel 4 drama, and Humans went on to break that record later the same year."

Prior to Channel 4, Wenger was head of drama at BBC Wales and was the executive producer of Doctor Who when Matt Smith was in the lead role. His other BBC commissioning credits include Tom Stoppard’s Parade's End.

Channel 4 immediately named a replacement, promoting Wenger's deputy Beth Willis to head of drama. With Willis due to begin maternity leave this summer, Phil Clarke – currently Channel 4’s head of comedy – will take up the acting role of head of scripted and will oversee both drama and comedy commissioning until she returns.