Professor Jonathan Powell

Personal profile

I joined the Faculty at Royal Holloway as Professor in the Media Department teaching on the Producing Course, and have recently taken on the job of Head of Department.

For most of my life I’ve been involved with the Production of TV Drama. After studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia under the watchful eye of the novelist, Malcolm Bradbury, I joined Granada TV. It was here that I learned my trade, producing an afternoon drama series called Crown Court which transmitted three times a week, 52 weeks a year.

Jumping ship to the BBC, I began to work on the adaptation of novels for BBC 2. My first production was Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge starring Alan Bates. That was followed by a number of productions including The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope which introduced the actor Alan Rickman to the screen; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with scripts by Fay Weldon; Crime and Punishment  starring John Hurt, Sons and Lovers, and Therese Raquin by the French novelist Emile Zola.

In addition, I produced a large scale UK/US co-production of  F.Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. Perhaps best known of these productions were the two John Le Carre novels Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and  Smiley’s People  starring Alec Guinness.

After that I became Head of Drama at the BBC. At the time I took over, the BBC was going through one of its periodic crises. I was responsible for the launch of both EastEnders and Casualty, as well as reputation-making dramas such as Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective and Troy Kennedy Martin’s Edge of Darkness

This was followed by six years as Controller of BBC 1, being responsible for the programming of the entire Channel and then a spell in commercial television at Carlton TV.

My programmes have attracted a number of British Academy Awards for Best Drama, two International Emmys in the US, a Royal Television Society Award for Outstanding Achievement and again in the US, a Peabody Award.


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