Jay Hunt (television executive)

Jacqueline Leigh "Jay" Hunt (born 20 January 1967[1]) is an Australian-born British television executive.

Jay Hunt
Jacqueline Leigh Hunt

(1967-01-20) 20 January 1967 (age 53)
Sydney, Australia
EducationLady Eleanor Holles School
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
OccupationTelevision executive
TitleDirector of Programmes, Channel 5 (2007-2008)
Controller of BBC One (2008-2010)
Chief Creative Officer, Channel 4 (2011-2017)
Chief Creative Officer, Apple Inc. (2017-present)
Ian Blandford
(m. 2005)
RelativesKristina Murrin (sister)

From early 2011 until June 2017, Hunt was the Chief Creative Officer of Channel 4.[2][3] She has previously served as Director of Programmes at Channel 5, and as Controller of BBC One. She is the only person to have led all three channels. Under her leadership, Channel 4 was named Channel of the Year at the 2014 Edinburgh International Television Festival[4] and Broadcast magazine's Channel of the Year in 2016.[5]

Early lifeEdit

Hunt was born in Sydney, Australia, and lived in Pittsburgh and Crete before moving permanently to London. Hunt's father John was Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School. Her sister is Kristina Murrin, an innovator and former Government policy advisor.

Hunt was educated at the independent Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, West London, followed by St John's College at the University of Cambridge, where she read English.[6]


Hunt joined the BBC in 1989 as a researcher, working on BBC Breakfast News. She went on to work on Newsnight and Panorama, subsequently becoming editor of the BBC's One O'Clock News and the Six O'Clock News. She led outside broadcast teams to cover the handover of Hong Kong to China and the first multiracial elections in South Africa.

Hunt became BBC Birmingham's Executive Producer for Daytime in 2002, being promoted to Senior Commissioning Executive for Daytime in 2003 and then Controller of BBC Daytime and Early Peak with responsibility for programming across both BBC One and BBC Two between 9 am and 7 pm. In this role, she commissioned Great British Menu, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, The Heirhunters, and Missing.

Hunt left the BBC for eight months in 2007, to replace Dan Chambers as Controller of Programmes for Five, and hired Natasha Kaplinsky from the BBC shortly afterwards.[7][8][9] At Five, she commissioned Cowboy Builders, Extreme Fishing with Robson Green, Police Interceptors, Breaking into Tesco and Britain's Best Home.

On 3 December 2007, it was announced that she would be returning to the BBC to take up the vacant post of Controller of BBC One in early 2008, replacing the resigning Peter Fincham following criticism over the handling of A Year with the Queen.[10] She worked her notice at five until April 2008 before returning to the BBC as Controller of BBC One. In 2009, Hunt was accused of a conflict of interest after it was revealed she was secretary of a production company owned by her husband which had a contract with the BBC. The BBC said this did not breach their conflict of interest policy.[11]

In 2008 and 2009, BBC One won MGEITF Terrestrial Channel of the Year. At BBC One her commissions included Sherlock, Mrs Brown's Boys, Luther, Criminal Justice, Five Daughters, Bang goes the Theory, The Day the Immigrants Left and Famous, Rich and Homeless. She also commissioned Michael McIntyre's and John Bishop's first network programmes.

In September 2010, Channel 4 announced Hunt's appointment to the new post of Chief Creative Officer. Immediately placed on "gardening leave" from the BBC, she joined Channel 4 in January 2011. While on leave, Hunt was a witness at the employment tribunal of the sacked Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly, who accused Hunt of ageism and sexism.[12] In January 2011, the day after Hunt began working at Channel 4, O'Reilly's claims for age discrimination and victimisation were upheld but the sexism claim was dismissed.[13] As part of her strategy to improve the quality of Channel 4 News, from spring 2011 Hunt hired Matt Frei (Washington), Jackie Long (Social Affairs) and Michael Crick (Political Correspondent) from the BBC.

Hunt has led what has been termed a "creative renaissance"[14] at Channel 4,[15] with her commissions including Humans, Catastrophe, Gogglebox, Indian Summers, The Island, The Undateables, Hunted, Benefit Street, First Dates, Child Genius and The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds. She led the team that delivered the BAFTA award-winning coverage of the 2012 London Paralympic Games[16] and in 2015 brought Formula One to Channel 4 with a new three-year deal for the sport.[17]

Under her leadership, Channel 4 was named The Edinburgh TV Festival Channel of the Year in 2014 [18] and 2016,[19] and Broadcast Channel of the Year in 2016 – with the channel receiving industry awards including more BAFTA TV awards in 2014[20] and 2015,[21] and more Royal Television Society Programme Awards than any other channel in 2014 [22] and 2016.[23] In 2015, Channel 4's audience share increased for the first time in nine years.[24]

In March 2016, Hunt delivered a Royal Television Society speech reflecting on her first five years at Channel 4 and the new creative culture she had established at the broadcaster.[25] In February 2013, she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[26] Hunt resigned from Channel 4 at the beginning of June 2017, and will leave in September after serving her notice. She had been seen as the most likely candidate to succeed David Abraham as chief executive and had been interviewed for the post.[3]

In October 2017, she was hired by Apple Inc.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

In June 2005, Hunt married Ian Blandford, formerly with BBC News who now works for the BBC College of Journalism and runs Brightspark TV. They have a son and daughter and live in Clapham.


  1. ^ "Jay Hunt: Has Channel 4 boss gone too far with 'Benefits Street'". The Independent. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Channel 4 picks Jay Hunt for top job". Channel 4. 14 September 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b Sweney, Mark (2 June 2017). "Jay Hunt quits Channel 4 post just days before decision on top job". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Channel 4 wins channel of the year at Edinburgh TV festival". The Guardian. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Channel 4 wins Channel of the Year at Broadcast Awards". BBC News. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Interview with Jay Hunt: Time to put the fun back in Five". The Guardian. 12 November 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  7. ^ "Jay Hunt is new Five director". Press Gazette. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
  8. ^ "BBC newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky is leaving the corporation to join commercial broadcaster Five". BBC. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Natasha Kaplinsky quits BBC to join Five News, earning £1m a year". London Evening Standard. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  10. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (3 December 2009). "Hunt facing baptism of fire". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
  11. ^ http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23727061-details/No+BBC+probe+over+Jay+Hunt's+media+company+involvement/article.do
  12. ^ Deans, Jason (5 November 2010). "Former BBC1 controller dropped older presenters 'because she hated women'". London: The Guardian, 5 November 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  13. ^ Plunkett, John (11 January 2011). "Countryfile's Miriam O'Reilly wins BBC ageism claim". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  14. ^ Saner, Emine (30 May 2015). "Channel 4's Jay Hunt: 'If you can't be confident, you can pretend'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Channel 4 achieves break-even as revenue rises £30m to £938m". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Channel 4 wins BAFTA Award for Paralympics coverage". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  17. ^ Sweney, Mark (21 December 2015). "F1 snapped up by Channel 4 as BBC exits deal early". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  18. ^ Plunkett, John (23 August 2014). "Channel 4 wins channel of the year at Edinburgh TV festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  19. ^ "Edinburgh TV Festival: Channel 4 named channel of the year". BBC News. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  20. ^ "TV Baftas 2014: the winners in full". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  21. ^ "Bafta TV awards 2015: Winners in full". BBC News. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  22. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 2014 | Royal Television Society". rts.org.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Lenny Henry, Michaela Coel and Suranne Jones triumph at the Royal Television Society Awards 2016". Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  24. ^ Sweney, Mark (8 January 2016). "Channel 4 audience share climbs for first time in a decade". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  25. ^ "Jay Hunt: Five years at 4 | Royal Television Society". rts.org.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  26. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  27. ^ Sweney, Mark (25 October 2017). "Apple has Netflix and Amazon in sights as it hires British TV executive". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 October 2017.

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
Peter Fincham
Controller of

Succeeded by
Danny Cohen