Media Lifeline: Michael Grade

Michael Grade has departed the BBC to gallop to the rescue of ITV as the network's new executive chairman.

1976: Born into a showbiz family - his father was the theatrical agent Leslie Grade, and his uncles were Lew Grade and Bernard Delfont - Michael Grade had no trouble making his way in the media world. Having previously been a sports journalist on The Mirror and a theatrical agent, he joins LWT in 1973, rising rapidly to the role of director of programmes in 1976. His contemporaries include Greg Dyke and John Birt.

1984: Grade joins the BBC as the controller of BBC1. He is made the director of programmes in 1986 and the managing director designate of BBC Television the following year. Before taking up this role, he is poached to succeed Jeremy Isaacs as the new chief executive of Channel 4.

1997: He leads Channel 4 for ten years (the Daily Mail calls him Britain's pornographer in chief). Departing to be the boss of First Leisure Corporation, Grade leaves behind a more mainstream proposition synonymous with US programmes such as Friends (pictured).

2004: His tenure at First Leisure is shortlived and Grade (pictured) now chairs or sits on the boards of a series of media-ish companies. He leaps at the chance when, after the Hutton Inquiry, the BBC pleads with him to return as the chairman of the Board of Governors.

2006: No-one could have possibly predicted his latest career bolt from the blue as he rides (according to some observers) to the rescue of a demoralised ITV, which has struggled to find a successor to its chief executive Charles Allen, who had departed in October. Grade, now 63 years of age, agrees to become executive chairman of the network, taking up his position in early 2007.

Fast forward ...

2007: Weeks into his new role, Grade begins to make plans for his retirement, now scheduled for his 65th birthday in March 2008. He plans to take up pipe smoking, join the local golf club and contemplate his memoirs. His publishers suggest Making the Grade? as a working title and Grade agrees, as long as he's allowed to drop the question mark.

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