Honorary Fellowship: Sir Peter Bazalgette
Presented by Honorary Fellow: John Entwistle OBE
Honourable Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Sir Peter Bazalgette for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
Sir Peter is currently Chair of Arts Council England and is recognised as a 'tour de force' in the world of creative arts and media.
Educated at Dulwich College in London, Sir Peter is the great-great-grandson of the Victorian civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who created the revolutionary sewers for central London and laid out much of the modern city, including the embankments and three bridges. An entrepreneur and innovator, this may well be where Sir Peter’s flair for business originates, but his creative talents may be attributed to his mother, a professional musician, who actively encouraged Sir Peter’s interest in music.
While studying Law at Cambridge, Sir Peter was an active participant in student life, as President of the Students’ Union and writing a regular column in the student newspaper. On graduating he joined the BBC news training scheme and became a researcher on That’s Life, having been specially selected by Esther Rantzen, another LJMU Honorary Fellow.
While at the BBC Sir Peter moved from reporting to become a producer, working on Food and Drink among other programmes. He then started his own production company, Bazal, creating three of the most popular lifestyle shows on the BBC: Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force.
Already a leading player in the media, he became one of the most defining figures of 21st century television when his company was acquired by Dutch independent media company, Endemol.
Endemol's most innovative format was Big Brother, the round-the-clock reality show, and Sir Peter was instrumental in developing the British adaptation, which then became the template for a myriad of worldwide versions. Few programmes have ever been as widely well-known or as profitable.
In 2005 he became Chairman of Endemol UK and Creative Director of the Endemol Group, responsible for running Big Brother and Deal or No Deal, which also became the pattern for worldwide success.
For his impact on the development of reality television and lifestyle TV programmes, The Independent newspaper once argued that he may be "the most influential man in British television."
He has been awarded fellowships by BAFTA and the Royal Television Society, is Chairman of ITV and President of The Royal Television Society. He was also a former board member of Channel 4, a non-executive Director of the UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport, and the challenging job of chairing English National Opera.
He has also raised substantial funds for arts and media organisations, notably as Chair of the Crossness Engines Trust and as Deputy Chair of the National Film and Television School. In 2012 he was knighted in the New Year Honours for services to broadcasting.
Sir Peter’s current tenure as Chairman of the Arts Council, comes to an end in January, having served one full term lasting four years. His stewardship of the Council is viewed as a great success, particularly with regards to the lobbying of government, which resulted in a funding freeze for the arts in the last spending review which amongst others was a great relief to our renowned arts institutions here on Merseyside. Darren Henley, Chief Executive of the Arts Council and also a Fellow of this University, has said that Sir Peter has been an outstanding leader for the arts and culture sector.
Sir Peter’s next project is the launch of his book, The Empathy Instinct: How to Create a More Civil Society, to be published in January. The book is perhaps indicative of Sir Peter’s key to success; his ability to combine a flair for business with compassion and thought for society as a whole. His other publications include Egon Ronay: the man who taught Britain how to eat, The Food Revolution, The Big Food and Drink Book and You don’t have to diet. So perhaps it is no surprise in Who’s Who, Sir Peter’s recreations are stated to be “Opera and Gluttony” and that he is a member of the Beefsteak Club.
But for his sustained, outstanding contributions to creative arts, media and entertainment, it is with great pleasure that I present Sir Peter Bazalgette for admission to our highest honour, as an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.