MEDIA: HEADLINER; Ex-Channel 4 salesman adds a splash of colour to UK Gold

Paul Taylor is happy at the prospect of giving UK Gold a boost, Claire Beale says

Paul Taylor is happy at the prospect of giving UK Gold a boost, Claire

Beale says

‘Strap your tits down and don’t wear one of those short skirts,’ I am

warned before setting out to interview Paul Taylor. ‘This guy’s a master

of the double entendre, know what I mean?’

Paul Taylor, the new sales director at UK Gold, looks perfectly harmless

when we meet. Mind you, after a week like his, even the most robust of

personalities would be a little deflated.

In the past few days he’s had a juicy bonus from Channel 4 (where he was

client sales manager), handed in his notice (nice timing), started a new

job at UK Gold, been at the centre of a bomb scare and arrived home to

find his daughter minus the tip of one of her fingers.

And as if that wasn’t enough, he’s arrived at UK Gold in charge of a

team of sales execs who could, at this very moment, be scribbling their

own resignations. Taylor isn’t sure how many of his new boys will be

following their old sales boss, Nick Milligan, to the bright lights of

Channel 5.

Add to that the lingering uncertainties about UK Gold’s move into a new

sales house with United Artist’s Programming’s satellite channels, and

Taylor seems to have made quite a brave decision.

The 37-year-old Taylor (‘the only man I know who looks better in

glasses,’ according to one pal) is sanguine about the whole business. ‘I

wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think this was a real, long-term

opportunity for me,’ he explains.

But how will Taylor fill Milligan’s cowboy boots?

Few would deny Taylor’s talents for driving business by the force of his

personality. ‘He talks a good game,’ one former colleague says.

‘He may not be a great numbers man, but he knows how to play by the

rules,’ another adds. ‘He can handle almost anything you could throw at

him - he might not always handle it brilliantly, but he’s rarely fazed.’

Mr Taylor, known as Big Fluffy, is a chameleon - easily adaptable to any

situation. For me he’s white, the consummate statesman. But for those of

you for whom this will be the only Taylor you’ll ever see, here’s a

glimpse of his blue side. For starters there’s the story about him

enjoying a lap snog at the bar of a Rib Shack restaurant (it’s OK, he

later married her). Then there’s his party trick involving loose change

and a certain piece of his anatomy.

Taylor confesses to being a firm follower of the work hard, play hard

ethic, ‘and I do like a good laugh with the boys and girls’. This is a

guy with a past. According to Chris Boothby, the broadcast director of

BBJ Media Services who shared an office with Taylor during their WCRS

days, Taylor is ‘an excellent operator, very smooth’, although he admits

that ‘there’s definitely a wild man trying to get out of this smooth


Chris Locke, the joint deputy managing director at the Media Centre, is,

typically, a little more blunt: ‘Paul’s an animal.’ He adds that the

last time Taylor ever really sold a spot was during his spell at

Grampian Television, ‘so he’ll be used to the sums involved in his new


Taylor, who admits that there really wasn’t any way forward for him at

Channel 4, says that before him lies ‘a great opportunity to build on UK

Gold’s solid foundations, to get involved in the establishment of a

satellite sales house, and experience the cutting edge of the media

explosion that is stampeding on the horizon’.

And although selling UK Gold, despite its comfortable status as the

largest non-Sky satellite channel, could be a bit of a shock to the

Taylor system after the success story of Channel 4, Taylor says he’s

relishing the challenge.

‘What’s needed here is the same sort of drive and commitment that

Channel 4 required when it first began selling its own airtime in 1992.

And in many ways the propositions of UK Gold and Living [Gold’s sister

channel] and Channel 4 aren’t that different. They are all about

environment and brand values.’

As the interview draws to a close, I find myself a little bit

disappointed that Taylor hasn’t peppered his conversation with the sort

of rude gags I’d been warned about. He seems, if anything, professional.

Nice but not very exciting. Then he saves the hour by promising to

invite me out to lunch and take me through his sexual fetishes, and

order is restored to the world.

The Taylor file

1981 Cadbury, area sales rep

1983 Grampian TV, sales assistant

1983 McCann-Erickson, TV buyer

1985 J. Walter Thompson, planner/buyer

1985 WCRS, TV buying group head

1987 Lowe Howard-Spink, senior planner/buyer

1988 Geers Gross, media group manager then joint media director

1992 Channel 4, senior business manager, then client sales manager

1996 UK Gold/Living, sales director