Danny Cohen (television executive)

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Danny Cohen
Born 1974 (age 40–41)
Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall
Occupation Director of BBC Television
Employer BBC
Salary £320,000[1]
Spouse(s) Noreena Hertz

Danny Cohen (born 1974)[2] is the Director of BBC Television.[3] He was previously the Controller of BBC One,[4] the BBC's principal television channel in the United Kingdom,[5] and the youngest person to be appointed as Controller of the channel.


Cohen attended a Jewish primary school in north London, followed by the City of London School, an independent school for boys in the City of London.[6] Cohen read English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, from which he graduated with a BA Honours Double First in English Literature.[6]


Channel 4[edit]

Cohen worked earlier in his career for Channel 4 in the UK in various roles including Head of Documentaries, Head of Factual Entertainment and Head of E4. His television commissions at Channel 4 included Fonejacker, The Inbetweeners, Supernanny, Cutting Edge, The Great British UFO Hoax, The Games, and the BAFTA award-winning Skins.[7]

BBC Three[edit]

Between May 2007 and October 2010, Cohen was the Controller of BBC Three. During his tenureship of BBC Three, the channel increased its share of 16-34-year-old viewers by 58% and won Digital Channel of the Year at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in two out of three years – 2008 and 2010.[8] His BBC Three commissions included the BAFTA nominated Blood, Sweat and T-shirts and follow-up series Blood, Sweat and Takeaways, The Undercover Princes, Britain's Missing Top Model, The World's Strictest Parents, The Adult Season, Russell Howard's Good News, Young Voter's Question Time, Stacey Dooley Investigates, Lip Service, Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, Being Human and Mongrels.

Alongside these commissions, he also acquired Summer Heights High from Australia and built a strong following for U.S. animation Family Guy. He also revamped the hourly bulletins 60 Seconds adding a World News update, and hired Tasmin Lucia-Khan as the face of news.[9][10]

In February 2008, The Times newspaper described Cohen as "the boy wonder of British television".[11] In January 2009, the Royal Television Society's magazine Television wrote an article about Cohen which posed the question of whether "the 34 year-old wunderkind" would be Director General of the BBC by his early forties.[12]

BBC One[edit]

As Controller of BBC One from 2010, Cohen's commissions have included Call the Midwife, which launched as the highest rating BBC drama series for over a decade, The Voice UK, and a new BBC adaptation of Great Expectations, The Village and the Ben Elton comedy series The Wright Way.

Cohen's television commissions have included Dickensian, Our Zoo, Poldark, The Interceptor, The Secrets, War and Peace, Remember Me, Gangsta Granny, Call the Midwife, The Voice UK, Luther, Truckers, Jamaica Inn, From There to Here, The Crimson Field, The Game, In The Club, The Great Train Robbery and Women, Weddings, War and Me. He cancelled the Zen detective series in 2011.

Jimmy Savile and Pollard report[edit]

Cohen countenanced a Jim'll Fix It tribute programme despite it being known within the BBC about Saviles "dark side", the Radio Times reported: "I think it will be a great tribute to Jimmy to recreate his famous show as a Christmas treat for audiences," said BBC1 controller Danny Cohen.[13] The Pollard review into Newsnight's decision to drop an investigation into sex abuse claims against Jimmy Savile found that Mr Cohen had not read emails that had been copied to him warning of Savile's "dark side" and which indicated there was knowledge within the BBC of the unsavoury side of Savile's character. Had he done so "it was at least possible that further questions [on the advisability of running the tributes] would have followed". [14]

BBC Television[edit]

In May 2013 Cohen became Director of BBC Television, succeeding Roger Mosey who had been temporarily in the post since August 2012.[15][3]

In early 2013, he appeared in a short film: 'The Creative Revolution: Is Digital Technology Changing Creativity in TV?',[16] commissioned by the Digital Production Partnership, exploring the relationship between digital technology and creativity in the production and delivery of TV programming.

He told The Observer in February 2014 that all BBC panel shows must include at least one female.[17] (See Females in BBC panel shows)

Personal life[edit]

Cohen is married to economist and author Noreena Hertz.


Media offices
Preceded by
Julian Bellamy
Controller of BBC Three
2007 – 2010
Succeeded by
Zai Bennett
Preceded by
Jay Hunt
Controller of BBC One
2010 – 2013
Succeeded by
Charlotte Moore