Peter Bazalgette

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Biographical Information

In September 2012 it was announced that he would be appointed chairman of Arts Council England. "Knighted for services to television earlier this year, he will succeed Dame Liz Forgan – who also chairs the Scott Trust, owner of the Guardian – as chair of Arts Council England in February next year... Bazalgette is familiar with the challenges of funding the arts. He is a long-time board member and deputy chairman of the English National Opera, and was appointed its chairman in June. He has also served as a non-executive director at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), giving him a glimpse, when it comes to the next round of funding negotiations, over both sides of the fence...

"The great-great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who built London's Victorian sewer system, Bazalgette was born in London in 1953 and went to Dulwich College in south-east London, where his contemporaries included Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, and then to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he become president of Cambridge Union. His university friend John Makinson, chairman of Penguin and the National Theatre... Linked to various of the big broadcasting jobs over the last decade, he came closest in 2002 when he was in the running to be chief executive of Channel 4, only to pull out at the last minute. Channel 4's Johnson discussed the same role with him two years later...

"Emerging from university with a third in law – possibly as a result of spending too much time writing the student newspaper gossip column – Bazalgette has joked that he had no option but to pursue a career in the media. He joined the BBC as a news trainee and was spotted by Esther Rantzen, who hired him to work as a researcher on That's Life. Bazalgette later said that he learned all he knew "at Esther's knee … it's all about informing and entertaining". He went on to produce BBC2's Food and Drink and set up his own company, Bazal, in 1987, which was sold to Dutch company Endemol three years later. He rose to become its creative director in 1998, stepping down from the company nearly a decade later... Estimates of a seven-figure salary at Endemol are said to be over-inflated, but he did enjoy a bonus payout worth several million pounds during his time with the company, and enjoyed a further windfall when it was sold to Telefónica in 2000. He is certainly not doing his new job, which pays £40,000 for a two-day week, for the money.

"Married with two children, he has earned enough to have two holiday homes, one in Tuscany and one on the south Devon coast, and his official Debrett's biography lists "gluttony" among his recreations... Bazalgette consistently refuses to be drawn on his politics. The most anyone has got out of him was that he has voted for different parties. He was briefly involved with a Conservative party commission on reviving popular interest in the democratic process, but stepped down when it became too high-profile."He is interested in the political process and how government works, rather than having political ambitions in any obvious way," says Makinson. "He has very strong views on the BBC and Channel 4, and is interested in those organisations which sit on the boundary of private and public sector". [1]

He is married to intellectual property rights lawyer and bioethicist, Hilary Newiss.


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Guardian Sir Peter Bazalgette: Big Brother man facing a big challenge, organizational web page, accessed September 17, 2012.
  2. Creative Skillset Patrons, organizational web page, accessed October 20, 2012.
  3. Demos Advisory Group, organizational web page, accessed May 29, 2014.