Jay Hunt leaves BBC1 for Channel 4

Named new chief creative officer

LONDON -- Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham has wooed BBC1 head Jay Hunt to be his new chief creative officer -- in a move that will see the well-liked acting chief creative officer and Channel 4 head Julian Bellamy quit the broadcaster after "a short period of transition."

Hunt, described as "a fearless creative leader" by Abraham, will join early next year and will also be an executive member of the Channel 4 board.

She will combine all programming functions with multiplatform commissioning and product development for the first time at Channel 4 and be responsible for setting up a new dialog with advertisers and producers.

The appointment follows what Channel 4 described as "an extensive global search" in which Bellamy is thought to have been one of a number of candidates.

"Channel 4 requires a fearless creative leader to help steer us through our next phase and Jay has demonstrated across a variety of public service genres as well as in commercial television, her appetite to challenge the status quo, create and lead change, and promote new talent," Abraham said.

Hunt has lead a creative overhaul at BBC1, where she commissioned such fare as the Benedict Cumberbatch starrer "Sherlock," the Idris Elba crime drama "Luther" and the multi award-winning Jamaican period drama "Small Island."

BBC1 has also experimented extensively with the potential of multiplatform commissioning in recent years with projects such as "The Apprentice Predictor," "Doctor Who: The Adventure Game," and "Bang Goes The Theory."

But she had attracted a degree of controversy at the pubcaster, and was said by friends to be unhappy with the degree of family scrutiny that such a high profile role entailed.

High on the list of possible candidates to succeed her is Danny Cohen, head of youth-oriented channel BBC3.

Hunt said she had been attracted to the Channel 4 job by the challenge of overseeing multi-platform programming.

"[I] could not resist the chance to join Channel 4 at such an exciting time. David's vision for a converged creative business with real innovation at its heart is compelling. I wanted to be part of that."