Zai Bennett was appointed as Director of Programmes for Sky UK & Ireland in November 2016 with a brief that includes responsibility for the editorial direction and output of Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts as well as Sky’s free to air channels. With his commissioning team Zai is responsible for Sky’s original programming with dramas like Patrick Melrose, Save Me and Bulletproof, comedies like Sick Of It, In the Long Run and Sally4Ever and entertainment formats like The Heist and A League Of Their Own.
Before this he was Director of Sky Atlantic where his remit included overseeing an enviable slate of US content, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Affair, Silicon Valley and Veep as well as looking after the channel’s home-grown slate of programming including high profile dramas such as Fortitude, Penny Dreadful, Tin Star, Guerrilla, The Tunnel and Riviera.
Prior to this, he was Controller of BBC Three for three years, and in that time helped the channel overtake Channel 4 for the young adult 16-24yr audience. Under his direction, BBC Three won six BAFTA’s in the three years including Life and Death Row, In The Flesh and The Revolution Will Be Televised. Other highlights include record breaking comedies Bad Education, Cuckoo, People Just Do Nothing, Murder in Successville and Uncle, popular factual hits The Call Centre and Hair as well as landmark multi-genre seasons on Crime and Mental Health.
Prior to joining the BBC, Bennett spent 12 years at ITV where he was part of the launch team for ITV2, 3 and 4. As Controller of ITV2 and then Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions he transformed ITV2 with commissions including The Only Way is Essex, Secret Diary of A Call Girl and Celebrity Juice. He also concluded major acquisitions deals for all the channels, including the James Bond and Harry Potter franchises.
He was Advisory Chair for the 40th Guardian International Television Festival in 2015 and remains on the executive committee of the festival.