The price of failure 

9 March 2009 tbs.pm/1029

ITV executives write protest letter to Michael Grade

Well done Michael Grade for having the temerity to sack the chief architect of ITV’s recent failure to achieve a content-led turnaround for ITV as it stands, namely the director of factual and entertainment Jim Allen, despite the fact that he seems to be still popular with various ITV executives for some reason.

It may be true that his team was responsible for Dancing On Ice, but that’s just an easy knock-off copy of that other hit Strictly Come Dancing, which effectively leaves I’m A Celebrity… as the only ‘major’ achievement out of those listed as examples of Allen’s success at ITV. (Many people like to see Z-list ‘celebrities’ being humiliated anyway.)

Unfortunately, pressure may now be applied by some ill-informed shareholders (what’s left of them, anyway) and advertisers who may be upset at the loss of the person responsible for Celebrity Fit Club for Michael Grade to be sacked, but based on this decision alone he’s doing a mighty fine job of sorting out what needs to be done at ITV.

Especially given the recent catastrophic failure of drama series Demons (something that may have been a tipping point for Grade), along with the earlier and equally important high profile failure of Celebrity Wrestling; something that still haunts the commissioning rooms of ITV to this day despite having happened four years ago.

All Michael Grade needs now is more time, which is something that has now become increasingly in short supply; Grade’s honeymoon period might be just about to expire (if it hasn’t done so already) unless he can whip out some flash Powerpoint slides to convince business types that ‘real’ content is what ITV still desperately needs above everything else.

Let’s hope that Grade manages to get his way and is still able to make those tough decisions that need to be taken in order to continue in the long quest of restoring at least some of ITV’s reputation before it is really too late to do anything at all.

By contrast, the previous head of ITV Charles Allen (presumably not related to Jim, but you never know) would have given him a pay rise instead, thereby condemning ITV to a future of mediocrity punctuated by ratings blips.

But you – and most likely, Michael Grade – know better than that.

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