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TV executive Sir Paul Fox dies aged 98

Sir Paul Fox, BBC

BBC

TV executive Sir Paul Fox dies aged 98

BBC Director-General Tim Davie leads the tributes…

The BBC has announced the death of Sir Paul Fox who has died at the age of 98. Paul Leonard Fox was born on 27 October 1925. He was educated in Bournemouth and served in the Parachute Regiment in the 1940s. He moved into television with the Beeb in the 1950s, firstly with the news department writing scripts for the Newsreel slots. This led to creating and editing sports news programme SportsView. From this programme he came up with the still-running annual event the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year. The first gong, awarded in 1954, went to runner Sir Chris Chataway.

“Sir Paul had a towering career in television – not just with the BBC – but across the industry. Few people have had such a broad and lasting impact on the TV landscape, commissioning shows that audiences have loved for decades and still love. From Sports Personality of the Year and Panorama to the Two Ronnies, Dad’s Army and Parkinson, his legacy is unmatched.

“He was one of the best TV executives from a golden era in television. He will be hugely missed.” – Tim Davie, BBC Director-General

Sir Paul Fox pictured on March 8th 1988 as he’s announced as the new MD of Network BBC TV / BBC PR

In the 1960s Paul had a number of roles at the corporation, first as Editor of flagship current affairs show Panorama, then as Head of BBC TV Public Affairs and latterly Controller of BBC One, a post he held for six years, one of the longest tenures of any Beeb Channel Controller. It was this executive positon that saw Fox introduce some of the most popular programming of the era.

He launched a year after taking the job Dad’s Army – although he initially wasn’t overly keen on the wartime sitcom, viewer feedback changed his mind and it was recommissioned – other hits followed including sketch series The Two Ronnies with Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker, consumer series That’s Life! fronted by Esther Rantzen and chat show Parkinson with Michael Parkinson to name just a few.

In 1973 he moved over to commercial television joining ITV’s Leeds-based Yorkshire Television as Managing Director remaining with the company until 1988. In 1980 he also joined ATV Network / ACC to help establish their breakfast franchise consortium Daybreak TV Limited which bid for the new ITV morning franchise which ultimately went to TV-am. He oversaw that project as  Chairman alongside other names such as Alan Whicker – another YTV stalwart – and Lew Grade. Fox was also a board member of ITV London contractor Thames Television for several years and became Chairman of ITV and Channel 4’s news provider ITN in 1986.

In 1988 he returned to the BBC to take up the role of managing director of network television. He semi-retired in 1991, the year he was also knighted for services to the broadcasting industry. Sir Paul went on to become chairman of the Racecourse Association where he oversaw a TV deal with The Racing Channel and the Disasters Emergency Committee before leaving both roles in the late 1990s when he fully retired.

Paul Fox, pictured at Yorkshire TV in 1986 / YTV PR

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