UCFB Guest Lecturer Profile: Peter Salmon, Director England at the BBC
The UK’s obsession with sport is clear for all to see. If it wasn’t obvious already, the 2012 Olympics certainly put it beyond doubt. Of course, the media has a huge part to play in this, and there are few more influential figures in this regard than Peter Salmon.
A Burnley native, Peter has played a key role in the evolution of Britain’s television industry over the past three decades. Having held various positions across the sector, he has built up all of the experience necessary to perform in his current role – as Director England at the BBC.
After spending much of his early adult life as a teacher, press officer and news reporter, the Burnley FC fan made his big move to the world of television with a trainee role at the BBC in 1981. He worked on shows such as Blue Peter and Newsnight while learning the ropes, before going on to be a producer on Crimewatch UK, the Oscar-winning Aardman animation The Wrong Trousers and a number of nature programmes.
In 1993, Peter Salmon was chosen by Channel 4 Chief Executive Michael Grade to become the broadcaster’s new Head of Factual Programmes. There he worked on a number of long-running documentary series, including Cutting Edge and Equinox. His input at the channel was clearly successful, as the department won a number of awards in the following years.
A short spell at Granada saw Peter work on World in Action and Coronation Street among many other popular titles, but it wasn’t long before he was back where it all started.
Back to the BBC
The years between 1997 and 2000 were spent on a diverse range of primetime shows, including Dinner Ladies, Holby City and Waking the Dead. At the turn of the millennium, however, Peter Salmon became the BBC’s Director of Sport. This gave him the opportunity to make one particular move that would change the channel’s future in sports broadcasting: winning back the rights to Saturday-night football highlights show Match of the Day.
Not content with taking the BBC to new heights, Peter also co-invented Sport Relief – an ongoing charity campaign that has so far generated more than £120 million for the benefit of young people in the UK and across the world.
Before becoming Director England in May 2014, Peter worked exclusively on the development of BBC North, overseeing the organisation’s transition to MediaCityUK in Salford. It was here that he recorded one of his most notable achievements – supporting the 2012 London Olympics with round-the-clock, interactive coverage.
With all of the above in mind, it’s not difficult to see why Peter Salmon is the perfect person to help UCFB’s students learn about the media and the huge role it has to play in the sporting world.