Channel 4's Kevin Lygo joins ITV Studios

Director of TV and content joins ITV's production business

LONDON -- Within days of taking the post ITV chief executive, Adam Crozier has made his first trophy signing, wooing Channel 4's acerbic and well-liked director of television Kevin Lygo to take over ITV's production division as managing director, ITV Studios.

The move sees existing ITV production head Lee Bartlett giving up his U.K. production brief but retaining oversight of ITV's international production and distribution business.

The move is Crozier's first step to delivering the turnaround in ITV's fortunes that his predecessor Michael Grade failed to achieve.

"Kevin's appointment underlines our commitment to ensuring home-grown content stays at the heart of our business and our focus on attracting the very best creative talent, both on and off-screen, to ITV," Crozier said in a statement.

Lygo -- who has been head of television at Channel 4 for seven years and was previously director of television at Five -- has been responsible for commissioning the U.K. production sector to make some of the most iconic shows of recent years including "Skins," "Jamie's School Dinners," "Shameless" and "Longford."

Lygo has also helped foster such talent as Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Mangan and Derren Brown.

As managing director of ITV Studios, however, Lygo will be on the other side of the fence, effectively having to persuade ITV's somewhat demoralized in-house production business to make the kind of shows that ITV director of programming Peter Fincham can commission to boost the performance of ITV1.

His job will be to invigorate the division and boost its creativity in such areas as drama, where ITV has lost out in recent years to such big-gun BBC hits as "Spooks," "Life on Mars" and "Cranford."

The two men have worked together in the past when Lygo commissioned programming for Channel 4 and Fincham was head of indie producer Talkback Thames.

Now, in what is effectively a role-reversal, Lygo will have to sell Fincham the kind of shows that can build ITV and its digital channels as well as make programming for other broadcasters.

"This is a great signing for ITV," said Fincham. "We have worked very successfully together in the past and I'm personally delighted that we will be renewing what I'm sure will be a very fruitful relationship," said Fincham.

Channel 4's acting chief executive Anne Bulford said Lygo had been an "outstanding creative leader" who had built a raft of iconic programming.

"He hides his passion for Channel 4 behind a light-hearted manner, but no-one has been more seriously committed to our cause in the last few years."

In an email to Channel 4 staff, Lygo issued a characteristic farewell.

"I wish I could run through the building pleasuring everyone of you individually before I leave. In fact there may still be time. Keep an eye out for me."