Alan Yentob was born into an Iraqi Jewish family in London, and was educated at the independent The King’s School, Ely and Leeds University. (Anmerkung: der Vater von Sarah Wagenknecht ist auch „Iraner“, den Sarah nie zu sehen bekommen hat…)
He joined the BBC as a trainee in the BBC World Service in 1968.
In 1973, Yentob became a producer and director working on the high-profile documentary series, Omnibus,
- for which in 1975 he made a famous film called Cracked Actor about the musician David Bowie.
He went on later in 1975 to initiate another famous BBC documentary series, Arena, of which he was to remain the Editor until 1985, and the series itself still returns for semi-regular editions as of 2006.
He left Arena to become the BBC’s Head of Music and Arts, a position he occupied until 1987, when he was promoted to Controller of BBC Two, one of the youngest channel controllers in the BBC’s history. Under Yentob’s five year stewardship BBC Two was re-vitalised and he introduced many innovations in programming such as The Late Show, Have I Got News For You, Absolutely Fabulous and Wallace and Gromit‚s The Wrong Trousers.
Yentob was rewarded for his success in 1993 when he was promoted to Controller of BBC One, responsible for the output of the BBC’s premier channel. His time here was seen as another success and he remained in the post for three years until 1996, when he was promoted again to become BBC Television’s overall Director of Programmes.
This appointment was only a brief one, however, before a re-organisation of the BBC’s Executive Committee led to the creation of a new post, filled by Yentob, of Director of Drama, Entertainment and Children’s. This placed Yentob in overall supervision of the BBC’s output in these three genres across all media – radio, television and Internet. He occupied this post until June 2004, when new BBC Director-General Mark Thompson re-organised the BBC’s executive committee and promoted Yentob to the new post of BBC Creative Director, responsible for overseeing BBC creative output across television, radio and interactive services.
One episode of Imagine has Yentob explore the World Wide Web, Blogging, User created content, and even the use of Wikipedia, exploring people’s motives and satisfaction that can be had from sharing information on such a large scale. His own blog, created during the making of the episode, was subsequently deleted and purged. In 2007, Yentob appeared as the ‚host‘ of the satirical Imagine a Mildly Amusing Panel Show, a spoof Imagine… episode focused on the comedy panel game Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Alan Yentob’s reputation was affected when it was revealed that his participation in some of the interviews for Imagine had been faked.
Yentob has been warned not to do this again, but otherwise not disciplined, much to the disgruntlement of some who have seen more junior staff lose their jobs for lesser misdemeanours.
In July 2009 he was revealed to have accumulated a pension worth £6.3m, giving an annual retirement income of £216,667 for the rest of his life. This is one of the biggest pensions in the public sector. He has been on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation.
On 16 March 2010, Yentob and Nigella Lawson opened the new Jewish Museum in Camden, London.
He is referred to by the nickname Botney (Yentob spelled backwards) by the magazine Private Eye.
Yentob is married to Philippa Walker, a television producer. He has two children, Isabella and Jacob.
Yentob’s twenty-year-old son Jacob Walker Yentob was wounded in a stabbing incident in September 2006. Jacob and a friend were stabbed after refusing to hand over valuables to a robber who knocked on the door at the family’s four-storey Victorian home in Notting Hill. Both teenagers needed hospital attention after the attack.
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