The Power List 2012 Jane Root Founder and chief executive, Nutopia
Now queen of the ‘mega-doc’, former BBC2 controller Jane Root’s (above) latest offering through production company Nutopia is a 12-hour epic detailing the building of the Pyramids, the construction of the Great Wall of China and the creation of the Easter Island statues. The multimillion-pound Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us – which is set to air as a six-night event on the US History Channel in late 2012 – is the follow-up to Root’s first factual blockbuster, America: The Story Of US. Forty million viewers tuned into History to watch the show, which included sponsorship and advertising from the Bank of America, as well as an introduction by the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama. Root, who was president of Discovery Networks for three years, has also won a Discov- ery commission from Julian Bellamy that is his “prototype for the globalised TV of the future”, and is embarking on a big historical project inspired by a 2004 BBC2 series, Dunkirk.
But C4 spin-offs are not how Ross has made her name – other recent Film 4 co-productions include the critically acclaimed Shame and The Iron Lady, while successes including Slumdog Mil- lionaire and Four Lions established her pedigree. She has been dubbed the “mother of British film-making” as she has nurtured new talent on to the big screen. With a budget of £15m a year for the next few years, she will continue to hold a unique and powerful position in UK film.
and communications, editorial policy, business operations, technology, dis- tribution and archive. She has over- seen the move to Salford and is now in charge of the exit from TVC and White City – among the biggest logis- tical challenges the BBC has faced in its history. While her work takes her away from the nitty gritty of pro- gramme-making, Thomson’s career began with Radio 4 and Panorama, before she went on to become a C4 commissioner. Much of her current job happens behind the scenes, but she could soon take the spotlight, as her name is in the frame for the future director general role.
Lisbeth Savill Head of film and television, Olswang Tessa Ross
Controller of film and drama, Channel 4 and Film 4
Tessa Ross’s (above) place as one of the UK’s most important film executives was further secured last year with the success of The Inbetweeners. The film smashed records, becoming one of the most talked about films of 2011. It represents Ross’s vision to allow C4 departments to be connected to Film 4.
8 | The Power List | March 2012
Proving she was a worthy recipient of the Women in Film And Television Business Award in 2010, Lisbeth Savill (above) was one of eight film industry experts given the task in 2011 of con- ducting an independent review of the UK government’s film policy, along with industry bigwigs such as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and Film 4 controller Tessa Ross. The panel came up with 56 suggestions in its report, which was published in January. Still, Savill doesn’t let her extracurricular activities – she also sits on the BFI’s governing board – get in the way of her legal work. After putting together the financing and distribution arrange- ments for The King’s Speech – for which she received a co-executive pro- ducer credit – she recently advised on Academy Awards contenders My Week With Marilyn and Hugo, as well as a landmark European financing deal for UK company StudioCanal.
Caroline Thomson Chief operating officer, BBC
As chief operating officer of the BBC, Caroline Thomson (right) has one of the most important roles in TV, heading up the corpora- tion’s policy and strategy, marketing
Sophie Turner Laing Managing director, entertainment and news, Sky
Following Sky’s shift in focus from sport and movies to entertainment, Sophie Turner Laing’s (above) role has become increasingly vital as she orchestrates the next steps for the broadcasting behemoth. Ultimately responsible for overseeing a budget of £600m, which Sky will spend annu- ally on original content by 2014, she is firmly in the top tier of the content industry. The pragmatic but ambitious Turner Laing will be keen to build on the successful launch of Sky Atlantic – which is extending its crop of exclusive HBO shows with a wide range of UK content – with Sky Arts earmarked as another channel that can help open up Sky to a broader audience following her decision to move it up the EPG. Turner Laing is also mooted as a potential successor to BBC director general Mark
Thompson, but Sky’s unashamedly ambi- tious, commercial attitude may better suit this savvy operator.
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