Amidst praise from his peers, the BBC’s Director of Television Danny Cohen has stepped down from his position with the public-service broadcaster. Cohen, who has held the post since 2009, was responsible for commissioning shows such as popular drama Poldark and Happy Valley, reality series Call The Midwife and Car Share, and was a key figure in the 2014 controversy that saw Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson ejected from the network.
Lord Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC wished Cohen the best of luck with his future endeavours, stating,”In a world of intense competition and choice, he has further enhanced the BBC’s reputation for quality programming that is full of ambition and creativity”. Cohen, who has held the party line that the BBC should make a wide variety of British programming despite harsh budgetary constraints, was responsible for the four channels broadcasted by the network, as well as the online streaming service BBC iPlayer.
The youngest person to be appointed to the role, Cohen has left at a high point for the corporation; with BBC 2’s The Great British Bake Off pulling in over 14 million viewers. The Guardian is reporting that Cohen is currently reviewing offers from the UK and US, after turning down an American offer in late 2014. Danny Cohen has seen some turbulence in his time as Director of Television; earlier this year controversy built around a celebrity based petition to stop David Cameron making more drastic cuts to the broadcaster, which some some felt was an unfair attempt to influence government opinion.
In 2014, Cohen was a central part of the ruling to drop Jeremy Clarkson from the BBC. Clarkson, a controversial presenter at the best of times, had made a series of racial slurs the same year which had brought a number of law suits against the broadcasting company. After a physical altercation with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, it was Cohen who made the call to release Clarkson from his contract.
Cohen has spent eight years at the BBC where he has taken a hardline on diversity, announcing the broadcaster “won’t survive” without a concerted boost in representation. In an open letter to the BBC he stated: “I also want to thank you for your commitment to improving our record on diversity over the last couple of years. We still have a long way to go – and consistency and the stickability of this change is what matters now – but I am beginning to see the change on-screen and off and I’m proud of it“.