Paul Jackson quits ITV to return to producing

Director of entertainment and comedy leaves at year end

LONDON -- ITV comedy and entertainment boss Paul Jackson, the man behind such key ITV shows as "Britain's Got Talent" and "The X Factor," is leaving ITV to return to producing.

The announcement ends months of speculation about his future that has swirled since comedy and entertainment specialist Peter Fincham was appointed director of television in May. Details of Jackson's plans have not been announced.

Jackson, a former head of Granada America, was wooed to ITV in February 2006 by ITV's then-director of television Simon Shaps. He also spent five years in Australia, where he was managing director of Granada Australia and chief executive of Granada-backed Red Heart Prods.

On Wednesday, Fincham described Jackson as "a legend in the entertainment and comedy world," hailing his oversight of some of the network's biggest and best ITV entertainment franchises including "Benidorm," "Dancing on Ice" and "X Factor."

"I am very grateful for his support and look forward to working with him in his next venture," he added.

Jackson, who will leave ITV at the end of the year, said that he "totally enjoyed my time working for Simon, and, more recently, for Peter, an old friend for whom I have the greatest personal and professional respect."