John Ranelagh

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John Ranelagh (John O'Beirne Ranelagh) is a television executive and producer, and an author of history and of current politics. He started his career in television with the British Broadcasting Company, first for BBC News and Current Affairs on Midweek. As Associate Producer he participated in the making of Ireland: A Television History. Later a member of the team that started Channel 4, he conceived the Equinox program,[1] developed the "commissioning system", and served as Board Secretary. He was apparently the first television professional appointed to the Independent Television Commission (ITC), a government agency which licensed and regulated commercial television in Britain from 1991 to 2003.[2]

Eventually Ranelagh relocated to Scandinavia where he continued in television broadcasting.[3] There he has been with various companies: as Executive Chairman for NordicWorld; as Director for Kanal 2 Estonia; and, as Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Programmes for TV2 Denmark. Currently, Ranelagh works at TV2 Norway as Director of Acquisition, and at Vizrt as deputy Chairman.[4]

Ranelagh has also written several books:[5][6]

  • Ireland. An illustrated history (Oxford University 1981);
  • A Short History of Ireland (Cambridge University 1983, 2d ed. 1995, 3d ed. 2012);
  • The Agency. The rise and decline of the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster 1986);
  • Thatcher's People. An insider's account of the politics, the power and the personalities (HarperCollins 1991);
  • CIA: A History (London: BBC Books, illustrated edition 1992).

It appears that John Ranelagh's Irish father was James O'Beirne Ranelagh (died 1982 Cambridge), and accordingly his mother was Elaine (née Lambert Lewis). She had been a young American folklorist with her own WNYC radio program,[7] and thereafter became the noted author, E. L. Ranelagh (born 1914 New York, died 1996 London).[8] A native New Yorker, she had moved to rural Ireland following her 1946 marriage to James. Their son John Ranelagh, who had three younger sisters, was born in 1947.[9]


  1. ^ Equinox ran from 1986 to 2001 and presented science features and documentaries.
  2. ^ Speaker Bio John Ranelagh at natpe.2014.
  3. ^ Video Snack with John Ranelagh, TV2 Norway.
  4. ^ Speaker Bio John Ranelagh at natpe.2014.
  5. ^ Regarding his The Agency (1986), the jacket's flap states, at the end, "John Ranelagh is a producer at Channel 4 Television in England and the author of two books on the history of Ireland." Page [2] of this book's text (opposite the title page) lists the two titles on Irish history under the phrase, "Also by John Ranelagh".
  6. ^ Amazon's John Ranelagh page
  7. ^ Broadcasting from New York City, her show featured folk songs. In the late 1930s she helped introduce the blues of Huddie Ledbetter to radio audiences.
  8. ^ Among the books of E. L. Ranelaugh: Himself and I (New York: Citadel 1957), under the pen-name Anne O'Neill-Barna; The Past We Share. The near eastern ancestry of western folk literature (London: Quartet 1979); Men on Women (London: Quartet 1985), a history of gender relations. Later, she also published paperbacks on "Rugby Jokes".
  9. ^ Obituaries: Elaine O'Beirne-Ranelagh

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