Ben is the Director of Programmes for Channel 5, the UK’s third largest commercial TV channel and its digital channels 5STAR, 5Spike, 5Select and 5USA, with responsibility across all content for the portfolio. Channel 5 is owned by Viacom International Media Networks, following its acquisition in 2014.
Since his appointment in February 2013, Ben has driven a creative renewal of Channel 5, previously an acquisitions-focused channel, by investing significantly in a slate of high quality originations across a range of genres. During his tenure, the number of original commissions in peak time has increased by 40% with over 100 original series or specials transmitting over the last twelve months. Channel 5 has broadened the scope of its programming, commissioning history, natural history, drama, entertainment and comedy series to build on its roots in factual programming, attracting talent ranging from Michael Palin to Michael Portillo, Jane McDonald to Jeremy Vine. This fundmental shift in the channel’s reputation – and increased appeal to wider audiences – has been recognised by the industry in 2018; Channel 5 secured its best ever nominations at the RTS Programme Awards and Grierson Awards; its first ever BAFTA for Cruising with Jane McDonald; first ever wins at the AIB and Venice TV Festival Awards and scooped the prestigious Channel of the Year award at the Edinburgh TV Festival, beating BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and ITV.
Amongst a raft of successes include long running returning factual series The Yorkshire Vet and GPs: Behind Closed Doors; innovative travelogues including Michael Palin in North Korea and Cruising with Jane McDonald; impactful documentary series The Gift of Life and Body Donors as well as hard-hitting single docs Raped: My Story and Slum Britain: 50 Years On; a raft of natural history series such as Loch Lomond and Wild Britain and highly praised history programmes including Eight Days that Made Rome and Elizabeth and her Enemies. Ben has also recently commissioned a slate of dramas for the channel including recent hit Agatha & The Truth of Murder; Ben originally ordered innovative drama Suspects in 2013, the channel’s first drama in eight years.
Ben’s achievements at Channel 5 were recently recognised at the RTS Awards when he received the 2019 judges award for taking the channel on a “journey of gradual but radical change.”