42 Facts About Michael Grade


Michael Ian Grade, Baron Grade of Yarmouth, was born on 8 March 1943 and is an English television executive and businessman.


Michael Grade has held a number of senior roles in television, including controller of BBC1, chief executive of Channel 4, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC, and executive chairman of ITV plc.


Michael Grade was brought up by his grandmother, and only saw his non-Jewish mother once more as an adult.


Michael Grade was educated at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire and St Dunstan's College in London.


Michael Grade joined the Daily Mirror in 1960, and was a sports columnist from 1964 to 1966.


When Leslie Grade suffered a serious stroke in 1966, the 23-year-old Michael moved into his theatrical business.


Michael Grade entered the television industry in 1973 when he joined London Weekend Television as Deputy Controller of Programmes.


At LWT, Michael Grade worked with both John Birt and Greg Dyke.


In what was termed 'Snatch of the Day' by the press in 1978, Michael Grade attempted the acquisition of exclusive screening rights to Football League matches.


Previously the BBC had held the more desirable rights, but the Office of Fair Trading intervened, and Michael Grade's purchase was revoked.


Also in 1978, Michael Grade managed to place under contract the entertainer Bruce Forsyth who had helped the BBC to dominate the Saturday evening television ratings through the decade via The Generation Game series.


Michael Grade announced at a press conference in May 1979 that LWT had secured a contract with a production company formed by television dramatist Dennis Potter and his producer Kenith Trodd.


Michael Grade though, was directly involved with some of the playwright's later commissions.


Michael Grade approved production of The Professionals and initiated the long-running arts' programme The South Bank Show.


In 1981, Michael Grade left LWT to begin a two-year period as the president of Embassy Television in the United States.


Michael Grade cancelled the rights to screen Dallas while fighting Thames Television for the rights to the series.


Michael Grade cut short the expensive serialisation of The Tripods trilogy, written by John Christopher, because he was dissatisfied with the ratings it had achieved after two seasons.


Michael Grade considered cancelling the sitcom Blackadder, judging the first series to be unfunny.


Michael Grade agreed to commission Dennis Potter's serial The Singing Detective after a brief meeting with Jonathan Powell, then the BBC's Head of Drama.


Michael Grade was responsible for repeating Neighbours, at first exclusively an afternoon programme, in a later timeslot.


Michael Grade was praised by Bob Geldof for agreeing to broadcast the charity rock concert Live Aid for 24 hours.


Michael Grade announced on 27 February 1985 that season 23 of Doctor Who, which was scheduled to be transmitted from January to March 1986, would be postponed as he had decided that the programme's budget would be better spent on other drama productions.


Years later Michael Grade stated that he thought Baker's portrayal of the Doctor was "utterly unlikeable; absolutely God-awful in fact".


Michael Grade left the BBC in 1987 after an unsuccessful application to succeed Alasdair Milne as Director-General and a conflict with the corporation's new Deputy Director-General, John Birt, a former friend and colleague at London Weekend Television.


Michael Grade accepted the post of chief executive of Channel 4, succeeding Jeremy Isaacs, and took up his position at the beginning of 1988.


Michael Grade phased out some of its more high-brow programming, for which he was accused of "dumbing down".


Michael Grade stated that in the same week that he moved to Channel 4, it had shown a repeat of the 1984 adaptation of The Far Pavilions, featuring American actress Amy Irving "blacked up" as an Indian princess.


In 1997, Michael Grade became involved in a dispute with Chris Morris regarding the satire Brass Eye after repeatedly intervening in the production to order edits to various episodes, and rescheduling some instalments for sensitivity.


Morris responded by inserting a frame stating "Michael Grade is a cunt" into the final episode of the first run.


Michael Grade was on the board of the poorly received Millennium Dome project, and has served as chairman of Octopus Publishing, the Camelot Group, and Hemscott.


Michael Grade had ambitions to become Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors in 2001, but was beaten to the post by Gavyn Davies.


On 19 September 2006, Michael Grade became non-executive chairman of online food delivery company Ocado.


Michael Grade resigned from the role on 23 January 2013, after which he was replaced by Sir Stuart Rose.


Michael Grade became executive chairman of ITV plc on 8 January 2007.


On 12 September 2007, Michael Grade announced a controversial five-year re-structuring plan for ITV plc-owned regions, selecting entertainment as the top priority.


In March 2009, Michael Grade initiated libel action against another television executive, Greg Dyke, and The Times newspaper over allegations of improper conduct made by Dyke about Michael Grade, relating to his move from the BBC to ITV in 2006.


On 23 April 2009, Michael Grade announced he would be stepping down as chief executive to become non-executive chairman at the conclusion of regulatory reviews into advertising contract rights and digital TV, at some point before the end of 2009.


Michael Grade revealed his membership of the Conservative Party for the first time in May 2010.


Michael Grade was introduced in the House of Lords on 27 January and sat as a Conservative until moving to the crossbenches as part of his role as Chairman of Ofcom, conditions of appointment effective from 1 May 2022.


On 2 April 2022, it was announced by the Government that Michael Grade would take up his four year appointment as Chairman of Ofcom effective from 1 May 2022.


Michael Grade was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1998.


Michael Grade was previously married to Penelope Jane Levinson, by whom he has two children, and Sarah Lawson, a film producer.