Broadcaster, Presenter, Arts and Media Guru
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Alan Yentob (born 11 March 1947) is a British television executive and presenter. He has spent his entire career at the BBC.
He joined the BBC as a trainee in the BBC World Service in 1968 as its only non-Oxbridge graduate of that year. Nine months later he moved into TV to become an assistant director on arts programmes.
In 1973, he became a producer and director, working on the high-profile documentary series Omnibus, for which, in 1975, he made a film called Cracked Actor about the musician David Bowie. In 1975, he helped initiate another BBC documentary series, Arena, of which he was to remain the editor until 1985. The series still returns for semi-regular editions as of 2014.
He left Arena to become the BBC’s Head of Music and Arts, a position he occupied until 1987, when he was promoted to Controller of BBC 2, one of the youngest channel controllers in the BBC’s history. Under Yentob’s five-year stewardship BBC 2 was re-vitalised and he introduced many innovations in programming such as The Late Show, Have I Got News for You, Absolutely Fabulous and Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers.
In 1993 he was promoted to Controller of BBC 1, responsible for the output of the BBC’s premier channel. He remained in the post for three years until 1996, when he was promoted again to become BBC Television’s overall Director of Programmes.
This appointment was only a brief one, however, before a re-organisation of the BBC’s Executive Committee led to the creation of a new post, filled by Yentob, of Director of Drama, Entertainment and Children’s. This placed Yentob in overall supervision of the BBC’s output in these three genres across all media – radio, television and Internet. He occupied this post until June 2004, when new BBC Director-General Mark Thompson re-organised the BBC’s executive committee and promoted Yentob to the new post of BBC Creative Director, responsible for overseeing BBC creative output across television, radio and interactive services.
He also began to present BBC programmes. These have included a series on the life of Leonardo da Vinci and, from 2003, a new regular arts series, Imagine. One episode of Imagine has Yentob explore the World Wide Web, blogging, user-created content, and even the use of English Wikipedia, exploring people’s motives and satisfaction that can be had from sharing information on such a large scale. In 2007, Yentob appeared as the ‘host’ of the satirical Imagine a Mildly Amusing Panel Show.