ITV-Downton-Abbey-mediumITV drama chiefs Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes are to leave the company to set up their own production company.

Media Guardian report that the duo will leave ITV at the end of June and Steve November, ITV’s head of drama serials, will take over as acting director of drama until the company appoints a replacement. Although Haynes and Mackie are bowing out they will continue to oversee projects they have already commissioned until the leave in June.

“Sally and I have loved our seven years at ITV and are incredibly proud of the dramas that we’ve commissioned with Peter.  The range of our output from Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge through to Scott and Bailey and Appropriate Adult are testimony to the ambition of the channel. We’re sad to go but know that ITV drama will continue to go from strength to strength.”   – Laura Mackie

Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes have been responsible for turning around the fortunes of ITV’s drama output. The broadcaster had struggled to find successful new dramas and compete against the BBC. Dramas such as The Palace and Britannia High were notable flops.

Shows such as Downton Abbey, Scott and Bailey, Whitechapel and Marchlands put ITV drama back on the map and proved to be critical and ratings successes. Downton Abbey has been heralded as the moment ITV turned itself around and produced a successful period drama for the first time since the 1980s. Many have argued that the success of Downton Abbey has led to other period dramas such as The Paradise and Mr Selfridge. However, shows such as Lark Rise to Candleford, Cranford, Lost in Austen and Bleak House were all on-air prior to the Julian Fellowes series and proved that viewers love a period piece if done right.

The press are already speculating as to whom ITV will line up to replace the duo; early reports suggest BBC drama chief Ben Stephenson and Sky’s Elaine Pyke are amongst the likely contenders.

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