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Sir Peter Lytton Bazalgette (/ˈbæzəldʒɛt/; born 22 May 1953) is Chair of Arts Council England. He is a British television producer who helped to create the independent TV production sector in the United Kingdom, and went on to be the leading creative figure in the global TV company Endemol. The Independent argued that he may be "the most influential man in British television" as a result of his impact on the development of reality television and lifestyle TV programmes. The Daily Mail once named him as one of the "Ten Worst Britons" for Endemol's Channel 4 show Big Brother and the London Evening Standard television critic Victor Lewis-Smith said that Bazalgette had "done more to debase television over the past decade than anyone else." He was elected President of the Royal Television Society and Deputy Chairman of the National Film School. He was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting.
Peter Bazalgette is the great-great-grandson of Victorian civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. A third cousin is Edward Bazalgette who directed and produced the 2003 documentary The Sewer King which charted Sir Joseph Bazalgette's design and engineering of the London sewers. Peter Bazalgette presented a later television show for Five, called The Great Stink, and chaired the Crossness Engines Trust raising £4.5 million to restore the magnificent Victorian pumping station built by his ancestor. An old joke is that where Joseph Bazalgette was responsible for removing ordure from London's homes, his grandson has reversed the process.
For the first 12 years of his life Peter Bazalgette's parents did not have a television. He attended Dulwich College, and gained a third class degree in Law from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University while also becoming the president of the Cambridge Union Society.
He is married to intellectual property rights lawyer Hilary Newiss, with whom he has two children. The family lives in Notting Hill.
Bazalgette joined the BBC News graduate news training scheme, and was subsequently picked by Esther Rantzen as a researcher on That's Life! from 1977. While a reporter at the BBC for Man Alive, he joined Eric Parsloe's video production company Epic. The BBC put him in charge of producing the programme Food and Drink, where he claims to have created the celebrity chef. He continued producing by forming his own production company Bazal, which created hits for British TV including Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force. In 1990, Bazal was acquired by Broadcast Communications, which itself was absorbed by Endemol.
In January 2005 Bazalgette became Chairman of Endemol UK and Creative Director of Endemol Group worldwide. He was responsible for shows including Big Brother and Deal or No Deal which were hits around the world, and led Endemol's digital entertainment strategy. Although Big Brother was an adaption of an existing series in the Netherlands, Bazalgette is credited with popularising the format around the world thanks to the adaptations he built into the UK version. During Bazalgette's time on the global board, Endemol grew strongly and in 2005 it was launched on the Dutch stock exchange. Over the next eighteen months it trebled in value and was sold in 2007 for €3.2 billion. In September 2007 it was announced that Bazalgette was standing down as Chairman and would assume the role of advisor.
Bazalgette has long championed the value of the BBC for its trusted news and critical investment in original programming and creative talent. Along with others he has speculated how long the current funding model of the BBC will last, and whether in the future the licence fee might be reduced to pay specifically for core news and information content with voluntary subscription introduced to pay for drama and entertainment.
Bazalgette has been awarded fellowships by BAFTA and the Royal Television Society, and is President of the Royal Television Society. He was as a non-executive director of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In September 2012 he was appointed chairman of Arts Council England, and began his 4-year term on 31 January 2013.
Bazalgette has co-written four books including The Food Revolution, You Don't Have to Diet, and a biography of Egon Ronay. He is author of a study of the international TV formats business, Billion Dollar Game and is a regular speaker at global media events. He lectures on media convergence and creativity. He has written widely on privacy and the internet, young people and voting, arts and philanthropy, public service broadcasting and student volunteering.
He was a consultant to two of Sony’s television divisions in the UK, and was non-executive director of Base79. He is currently on the board of ITV, YouGov and Nutopia and also a member of BBH’s Advisory Board. He is a former board member of Channel 4 and former Deputy Chairman of the National Film & Television School where he helped put up an £8million new teaching building. He was Chairman of English National Opera and was a Trustee of Debate Mate.
- Peter Bazalgette at the Internet Movie Database
- Profile, The Guardian, May 2010; accessed 17 March 2014.
- Peter Bazalgette profile, Media Masterclass on Producing Television, blip.tv; accessed 17 March 2014.
- YouTube on
- The people who ruined the decade: PETER BAZALGETTE TV's posh popularist, guardian.co.uk; accessed 17 March 2014.