Lorraine Heggessey

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TV Executive

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Lorraine was the first female Controller of BBC One. Armed with the £300m budget she launched Spooks and Strictly, reinvented Dr Who and introduced new idents – changing the feel of the network. She then achieved hits at Talkback Thames with X-Factor, BGT and The Apprentice. “It’s not just about taking risks, it’s about the risk of not taking decisions.”


Lorraine Heggessey was the first female Controller of BBC One. During her time at the helm network ratings overtook ITV for the first time since it launched in 1955. Armed with a £300m programme budget she introduced Spooks and Strictly Come Dancing, and scored a massive success with a new-look Dr Who.

Lorraine was originally a producer for Newsnight, Panorama and Dispatches, making a variety of films on everything from the treatment of Jews in Soviet Russia to a bizarre interview with the former gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser. She then became Head of Children’s BBC, where her duties included explaining to Blue Peter viewers why she had sacked Richard Bacon.

When she took over BBC One, Lorraine was faced with a network struggling to escape from its old image and orthodox thinking. As well as commissioning a raft of popular programmes, she ditched the tired station idents and reviewed a number of protocols - without compromising the part the channel plays in the national psyche.

Lorraine moved from the BBC to become Chief Executive of Talkback Thames, by then a major independent production company. Again she backed winning formats, launching Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor and The Apprentice onto UK television screens. After Talkback she moved on to a series of high-profile media roles, including advising the Channel 4 Growth Fund, an innovative proposition to enable new businesses access to the broadcaster’s advertising. She also worked with a data science company, an angel investment company, and now chairs The Royal Foundation.

In presentations Lorraine describes the challenge of leadership. Though drawn from the media industry the messages about innovation, managing talent, moving outside your comfort zone and implementing change apply to any audience in any sector of business and public service.

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