Lorraine Heggessey

The first female controller of BBC1 and former CEO of Talkback Thames

Lorraine Heggessey photo

Lorraine Heggessey is a renowned media figure with huge experience of broadcasting and production in both the private and public sectors. She has taken on some of the most challenging roles in the industry. She was appointed as the first female Controller of BBC1 in 2000 and became the first female CEO of a major independent production company when she joined talkbackThames in 2005.

Lorraine Heggessey has an instinct for popular programming and has been directly associated with many of the biggest television hits of the past decade. She is an expert in talent management having worked closely with many star performers from Simon Cowell and Alan Sugar to Jonathan Ross and Rob Brydon.

Lorraine has a reputation as a dynamic leader with a strong track record of spearheading radical change. At BBC 1 she led a comprehensive shake up of the channel's schedule and branding that turned it into the most watched channel in the UK, overtaking its commercial competitor ITV for the first time. She moved the main evening news from 9pm to its current 10pm slot, revamped Saturday nights introducing shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Dr Who and launched a raft of new dramas including Spooks and Waking the Dead.

At Talkback Thames, Lorraine Heggessey used her creativity and talent management skills to drive commercial success. She took over the leadership of the company at a critical period, just as its founder and several key executives were leaving. She brought in a new team, revitalised the programming portfolio and increased profits by over 50 percent in her first two years. She was responsible for around 800 hours of television a year, including the UK's two most popular shows, X Factor and Britain's Got Talent and other hits such as The Apprentice, Grand Designs and QI.

Under Lorraine's leadership, the company trebled its entertainment output, set up a digital division, launched dozens of new titles and won numerous Bafta and Royal Television Society awards. It was named Best Independent Production Company at the Broadcast Awards in 2009 and was chosen by freelancers as the place they would most like to work.

Lorraine Heggessey has always thrived on new challenges. Her early career was as a current affairs producer on 'Panorama' and 'This Week' where she filmed undercover in Brezhnev's Soviet Union, went to the Falklands straight after the war and was held under house arrest in Zaire.

She was Woman of the Year at the Women in Film and Television Awards 2005. She has also won the Media Award at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) First Woman Awards and the Bertelsmann Entrepreneur Award.

She is a member of Great Ormond Street Hospital's Corporate Board, and mentors underprivileged teenagers.


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Lorraine Heggessey

The first female controller of BBC1 and former CEO of Talkback Thames

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