Stephen Lambert (media executive)
22 March 1959 |
|Alma mater||University of East Anglia (B.A., Politics and Philosophy, 1981)
University of Oxford (postgraduate research, 1982)
|Notable credit(s)||Wife Swap
The Secret Millionaire
|Children||1 daughter, 1 son|
Stephen Lambert (born 22 March 1959) is an English television producer and executive who works in Britain and America. He is best known for launching international hit formats such as the award-winning Wife Swap, Faking It, The Secret Millionaire, Undercover Boss and Gogglebox.
His programs have won many international awards, including more than half a dozen BAFTA awards, the Rose D'Or of Montreaux and both Primetime and International Emmys.
In 2010, The Huffington Post selected Lambert as one its Game Changers - '100 innovators, mavericks, visionaries, and leaders who are changing the way we look at the world and the way we live in it.'  In 2014, Lambert was included in the Media Guardian 100 and was rated sixth on The Hollywood Reporter list of the "Top 25 Reality Players of 2014". In April 2014, Lambert became the fifth person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the industry's Realscreen Awards. In 2016, he was named as one of the twenty most influential people in broadcasting by Debrett's and he was made a fellow of the Royal Television Society.
He is married to newspaper columnist Jenni Russell and they have two children.
Born in London, Lambert was educated at Thames Valley Grammar School and the University of East Anglia graduating with a first in Politics and Philosophy. He studied as a post-graduate student at Nuffield College, Oxford where he wrote a book on the history of British broadcasting policy published by the British Film Institute called Channel 4: Television With A Difference? that coincided with the launch of Britain's fourth terrestrial channel in November 1982.
In 1983, he joined the BBC and worked in the Documentaries Department for the next sixteen years. He was a producer and director of documentaries for the BAFTA-winning BBC2 series 40 Minutes and the BBC1 series Inside Story; many set in conflict areas such as Sri Lanka, Croatia, South Africa, Kuwait, Gaza and Northern Ireland. Between 1992 and 1994, he produced and directed a six-part documentary series for BBC2 about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which was filmed in Northern Iraq, the former Soviet Union, Bosnia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Europe, the US and in Whitehall.
In 1994, Lambert became the founding editor of BBC2's main documentary strand of the 1990s, Modern Times. While running Modern Times, he executive produced some of the first BBC1 docu-soaps, including The Clampers and Lakesiders, as well as the fly-on-the-wall series about Sunderland A.F.C., Premier Passions and the five part Royal Television Society award-winning series about the Department of Social Security called The System. Lambert also started a long working relationship with the film-maker Adam Curtis, executive producing his series The Mayfair Set, winner of the 1999 BAFTA best factual series award.
In 1998, Lambert became RDF Media's first director of programs. He devised and executive produced the highly acclaimed Faking It series which premiered on Channel 4 in 2000. It won the BAFTA best features program award in 2001 and 2002 and the Rose d'Or in 2003. This was followed by Wife Swap, which was a hit on Channel 4 attracting audiences of more than six million. It won the BAFTA best features program award in 2003 and the Rose D'Or in 2004. Lambert continued working with Adam Curtis, executive producing his The Century of the Self (2002), The Power of Nightmares (2004) (winner of BAFTA best factual series award 2004), and The Trap (2007).
From 1998 to 2005, RDF Media's grew rapidly with Lambert spearheading its editorial development. RDF started producing in the US and opened its RDF USA production office in Los Angeles. In 2004, Wife Swap became RDF's first US network series airing on ABC. RDF received Broadcast's Best Production Company of the Year Award for 2002, 2004 & 2006, the only company to win this award three times. In May 2005, RDF Media floated on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market and started to acquire other independent production companies such as IWC Media, The Foundation, The Comedy Unit, Touchpaper Television. Lambert became the group's chief creative officer. He continued to devise new formats such as The Secret Millionaire, which won the Rose d'Or in 2007, Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands for Channel 4, and The Verdict for BBC2.
In July 2007, Lambert found himself caught up in controversy when the BBC showed a trailer to journalists of a documentary series that RDF was producing called A Year with the Queen. The trailer seemed to show the Queen walking out of a photo-shoot with celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, but it later emerged she was walking into the shoot. Lambert took responsibility for a misleadingly edited trailer that was shown previously to international co-producers, but he was not involved in the edit of the BBC trailer shown to the press. When an inquiry into the affair reported in October 2007, Lambert chose to leave RDF and at the same time, Peter Fincham, Controller of BBC One, and his head of publicity, Jane Fletcher, resigned from their jobs.
In 2008, Lambert launched a new independent production company, Studio Lambert, based in London and Los Angeles. In the 2011 Broadcast (magazine) survey of independent production companies, Studio Lambert ranked #11 by size of turnover.
Lambert's first major formatted show in his new company was Undercover Boss, which started on Britain's Channel 4 in 2009 and has been produced in more than twenty countries. Studio Lambert produced an American version that premiered on CBS in February 2010 immediately after the Super Bowl to a record-breaking audience of nearly 40 million viewers. It went on to become the most popular new show of the 2009-10 television season with an average audience of 17 million viewers and to earn an Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Reality Program in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, winning the category in 2012 and 2013.
In March 2013 Studio Lambert launched Gogglebox on Channel 4, a weekly show observing ordinary people watching and reviewing the week's television. It has become the most popular show on the network, winning many awards including a BAFTA and two National Television Awards and local versions are produced in more than thirty countries. Other international formats from Studio Lambert include Four in a Bed which has been a multi-series hit on Channel 4 and TF1, The Great Interior Design Challenge a returning series on BBC2, and Tattoo Fixers for E4.
The company also produces documentary projects such as How to Get a Council House, the experimental real-time documentary series Seven Days for Channel 4 and a feature documentary on the financial crash called The Flaw which was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011.
- Friedlander, Whitney (2015-09-16). "All3Media Backs New TV Shingle Seven Stories". Retrieved 2015-09-16.
- "Who Is The Ultimate Game Changer In Business?". Huffington Post. 2010-09-15.
- Blight, Garry; Plunkett, John; Perraudin, Frances; Blight, Garry; Plunkett, John; Perraudin, Frances (2014-12-08). "MediaGuardian 100". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
- "The Hollywood Reporter's Top 25 Reality Players of 2014". 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "Stephen Lambert to enter Realscreen Awards Hall of Fame". 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "Stephen Lambert - Debrett's 500 2015". www.debretts.com. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
- "Royal Television Society announces new appointments". 2016-02-16. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
- Brown, Maggie (2004-10-04). "Swapping success | Media". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Gibson, Owen (2006-10-23). "Making it, not faking it | Media". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Brown, Maggie (2007-10-10). "Profile of RDF's ex-creative director Stephen Lambert | Media | MediaGuardian". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- "U.K.'s Lambert hangs reality shingle - Entertainment News, TV News, Media". Variety. 2008-03-25. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Parker, Robin (2011-03-17). "Indie survey records first fall in revenues". Broadcast.
- McNulty, Bernadette (2013-12-11). "Gogglebox: the TV show making Britain feel great". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-11.