Lesley Douglas

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Lesley Douglas
Born (1963-06-07) 7 June 1963 (age 55)
OccupationRadio executive
Known forTime as Controller of BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music

Lesley Douglas (born 7 June 1963) is a British former radio executive. She was the Controller of BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music from early 2004 until her resignation in October 2008 over The Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lesley Douglas was born in 1963 in Longbenton, North Tyneside,[2] where she grew up. Having an ambition to be a journalist, she chose to study English at the University of Manchester in order to be closer to the vibrant 1980s Manchester scene.[3]

BBC career[edit]

On graduation, Douglas joined the BBC as a production assistant in 1986,[1] and began at the David Jacobs Show, later joining the promotions department. In 1988, she worked as a producer on programmes such as the Gloria Hunniford Show and Brian Matthew's Round Midnight. In 1990, she returned to the Promotions department, then in 1993, she was promoted to be Editor of Radio 2 Presentation and Planning. She became Managing Editor of Radio 2, then became Head of Programmes in 2000.

Douglas was appointed Controller of both stations on 10 October 2003 and began on 5 January 2004, succeeding James Moir. She oversaw Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley leaving Radio 1 in April 2004 and joining her two networks later that year; the controversial appointment of Chris Evans as Drivetime presenter on 18 April 2006; and appointing equally controversial Russell Brand to 6 Music in April 2006 and overseeing his move to Radio 2 in November 2006.

She was a trustee of BBC Children in Need and sat on the Radio Times Advisory Panel.[4]


On 29 October 2008, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross were suspended by the BBC, after they made a series of obscene phone calls to the actor Andrew Sachs in a pre-recorded edition of The Russell Brand Show. Brand later resigned from the BBC. On 30 October 2008, Director General Mark Thompson met with the BBC Trust to discuss reaction to the incident, and Douglas's resignation was announced.[1] On the same day, Ross was suspended by the BBC without pay for 12 weeks.[5]

It subsequently emerged that Douglas had allowed the offending segment to be broadcast without having listened to it.[6]

Douglas had caused controversy earlier in 2008 with remarks, made in defence of the appointment of George Lamb to the 10 am–1 pm slot on 6Music, which were seen as pandering to outdated stereotypes. An article in The Guardian quoted her as saying:

There were existing problems with her siding with another of her signings, Brand, against a series of producers as revealed in an interview with Paul Gambaccini by Nicky Campbell on The Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 5Live.

Post-BBC career[edit]

In November 2008, Douglas joined the board of trustees at The Sage Gateshead.[2] The following month, she began a new job as the Director of Programming and Business Development at the British subsidiary of Universal Music Group.[9]


A Fellow of The Radio Academy,[10] Douglas was awarded the top prize at the Music Industry Woman Of The Year Awards in 2004, and a BASCA (British Association of Composers and Songwriters) Gold Badge in October 2006. Douglas has chaired the Radio Festival Steering Committee on two occasions, and is currently Vice Chair of the Radio Academy.[4] Douglas was awarded an honorary fellowship from the University of Sunderland in 2007.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Radio 2 boss quits over call row". BBC News. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  2. ^ a b "Woman who 'fell on sword' joins The Sage". The Journal. 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  3. ^ "Lesley Douglas: Radio 2 controller on the rise and rise of Britain's biggest station". London: The Independent Media. 28 November 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  4. ^ a b "Biography of Lesley Douglas". BBC Press Office. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  5. ^ "The ups and downs of Ross' career". BBC News. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  6. ^ Plunkett, John (25 November 2008). "Lesley Douglas to join Universal Music". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  7. ^ John Plunkett, 'Lesley Douglas defends 6Music changes', The Guardian, 18 February 2007
  8. ^ "The Life of Wylie: Russell Brand: The Inside Story". 3 November 2008.
  9. ^ John Plunkett "BBC boss who quit in Brand row joins Universal", The Guardian, 26 November 2008
  10. ^ The Radio Academy "Fellows" Archived 24 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Honorary Fellows". University of Sunderland. Retrieved 2008-10-30.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
James Moir
Controller, BBC Radio 2
Succeeded by
Bob Shennan