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Live blog: Five's Jeff Ford

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3.30pm: Next controller session promises to be an interesting one. It's Jeff Ford, who's just been appointed as the new controller for Channel Five, taking over from Richard Woolfe. Jeremy Vine is the moderator.

3.33pm: On the big announcement: "The great thing about Dawn is she likes to keep people informed. She called a meeting of the entire staff, just laid it out as it was, that we were being bought by Northen & Shell and a lot of the directors would be leaving. I only found out two days prior to that. It's a very exciting time for me but also the worst time, losing so many friends and colleagues."

3.34pm: "It's been a hard time for Five. We lost a hell a lot of our programme budget as well. We were under a hell of a lot of pressure to survive. Even against that background, last year the family of channels grew. Even out of all that change, we did perform miracles."

3.35pm: "There's a lot of room now in the offices," he jokes. "There's a lot of meeting rooms to spare, because Richard needed two or three."

3.36pm: "Richard Desmond is a character. I'd never met him before. The first time we did was the night of the announcement. He's so enthusiastic about having this channel, and he really wants to make it work."

3.38pm: "The things important to me at Five are the people. It really is important. People know, going through this difficult time, it isn't easy for me."

3.39pm: Why did he choose you to stay? "Boyish good lucks. I think he did a bit of research on what I've done in the past. I've chosen a few good shows and I can negotiate a bit too. I've been in TV since 1977, which is quite some time. I started right at the bottom and worked my way up."

3.40pm: "What I don't know, I'm going to learn. I'm going to go out and meet a lot of the independents. It's great to be able to say we're here and we're spending money."

3.42pm: £20m comes costcutting from headcount, the Covent Garden office. "The money will go on to the programme budget. More money will be seen on screen."

3.43pm: Is he expecting Desmond to meddle? "Does he come up with lots of suggestions and ideas? Of course he does. He owns the station. That's not just Richard Desmond. RTL took a very big interest in our shows."

3.44pm: "My job is to ensure he's making the right decisions, or helping me make the right decisions. If you can just turn him around, he gets it."

3.45pm: "Dawn never liked dogs, so Crufts was never an option." Best line of the Festival so far.

3.46pm: "In the week and a half that I've been in charge" - cue laughter - "he's never [interfered with the news]."

3.47pm: Worried about the influence of The Express journalism? "No, I don't. The news we have at the moment is very independent and will continue to have its own voice. If he does start influencing in a way we'd feel uncomfortable, then I might consider 'is that the path I want to go down?' But I don't think that's the way it's going to go."

3.48pm: Much laughter. Peppa Pig will now be made in the same studio as Wobbling Whoppers 3 and Northern Exposer. "We did do some erotic thrillers in the past, very good ones, but we're not going to be doing that any more."

3.50pm: Clipreel of Five programmes from last year. Controversial perhaps, but am I alone in really liking Live From Studio Five?

3.53pm: It wasn't in the clipreel, alas. "We're commissioning a bit more." Confirms 12 episodes of Hotel Inspector for 2011. "It's quite hard for me now to say what we're going to do."

3.54pm: Anything they're losing? "We've got to play to our strengths. Huge brands in those shows and we're going to expand them further. We also want to get some synergies with the newspapers and publications. We're already doing shows like Simon Cowell, Where Did it All Go Right?"

3.55pm: "What we do do very well are those travelogues, which are our highest raters." Pressed further on the synergy - is it right to promote the mags? "It depends what Ofcom say, that's the first port of call, but we would be quite stupid if we didn't take advantage of one of the biggest brands of the world, OK for instance. Now we've also got Live From Studio Five, we'd be stupid if we didn't take advantage of that."

3.56pm: "LFSF is a work-in-progress and we want to move that to the next level. It works better as a half hour."

3.57pm: "If we start going downmarket, that's the opposite to what we should be doing." Does Five get too many knocks? "Naked Jungle was obviously one of our highlights. Have we shot ourselves in the foot on the odd occasion? Yes, but everyone keeps reminding us of that. That's part of our history and growing up and the budgets we had. We want to aim higher, not lower."

3.58pm: Question about Fiver and Five USA. "USA is now a 1% channel, will have its best month ever. It is what it is. It's Five and it's USA. We were just Five US at one point and that A made a hell of a lot of difference. I think something like 17m viewers turn to it every month."

3.59pm: Voxpops. "Good all-rounder", "aimed at old people", "film", "funny", "maybe for the younger people".

4.01pm: Michael Grade calls for a "complete makeover" of Five, accusing it of trying to be "a cool version of BBC One and a poor version of ITV1".

4.02pm: "That was all quite positive," notes Ford. "Another fact, sorry. 43m watched us in July in some form. We get a lot of shows that get over 2m viewers. We beat Channel 4 at 9pm one third of the time and ITV1 one fifth of the time."

4.06pm: As a small boy, Ford wanted to do acquisitions (hey, me too!). "I'd been obsessed by television - I was one of those kids who got the Radio Times at Christmas and circle the shows I wanted to watch. I recognised the fact that some of these shows were American... I realised somebody must have bought these shows and decided they were going to be on BBC One. I thought 'that's a job I'd like to do' - at the age of seven."

4.07pm: At 18, he went to the BBC and worked as a vaults boy, archiving and distributing tapes. "I worked my way up at the BBC, went into the acquisitions department" then received more knockbacks, going to Anglia in Norwich in the late 80s. Replaced a dead guy at Yorkshire, then variously stole other people's jobs at Carlton and Central, eventually getting a job as an ITV film buyer.

4.10pm: "Buying programmes, you do it throughout the year." He talks about the LA Screenings - mentions FlashForward, which was a "huge hit for us". He says it's a "pity" it wasn't renewed. "The thing that really excites me the most is the schedule, and creating the schedule that appeals to the viewer."

4.12pm: Acquisition ambitions: "We didn't buy anything new at the LA Screenings. The programmes weren't that good this year. We did buy seasons three and four of The Mentalist."

4.13pm: Clipreel of upcoming programmes.

4.15pm: "We haven't had a huge amount of money to be able to commission new shows. The Autumn, yeah, is a bit similar to before but it's okay, because we've got a lot of good shows."

4.17pm: On Justin Lee Collins: "He's back to what he does best, in new series Turning Japanese, where he's with people in an unsual situation and reacting them."

4.18pm: Audience questions. Will 5 buy Big Brother? "Richard did say, when he took over, that he was looking at X Factor, Big Brother, TOTP and Panorama."

4.19pm: "It's just one of the shows... we're talking to many, many people. Loads of things we're discussing. That's one of the things that's on many, many lists." As for TOTP: "I think all of those shows, it's about the ambition. It's just saying 'we're here, we're going to be big, brash and we want big, big programmes."

4.20pm: "X Factor and Coronation Street, you're never going to get, but [his comments] are about ambition and scale." Ford doesn't think they're going to do a full-year current affairs programme.

4.21pm: Natasha Kaplinksy: "She'll be coming back."

4.22pm: Are Neighbours and Home & Away safe? "Yes. Of course they are."

4.23pm: Any PPV services Five could launch? "Not with the Channel Five brand. There aren't any plans yet." Ford reveals that he's going away to LA with Desmond for a week next week "because he wants to meet all the studios".

4.24pm: "Too early" to say what kind of shows he's looking for. "It hasn't been thought through absolutely yet."

4.25pm: Ford says he knows what he wants to do but hasn't spoken to all of the controllers and commissioners yet so won't reveal his plans.

4.26pm: Very convoluted question from a woman about The Hollywood Reporter about how they can now effectively create celebrities in the mags that they can then exploit on Five. It was more of a statement, to be fair. "It's not just about Big Brother," Ford says, "we can do stuff in the magazines...." BIG HINT?

4.27pm: Someone pushing for more guidance on important genres at Five. "For me, we need to build on the stuff we've got, so fact and factent is a good place to start. Entertainment has to be there every week."

4.29pm: What is the budget exactly? "I can't give you the full number, but it is tens of millions of pounds more. They work in a different way to RTL, where you had to work to get a pound out of them."

4.32pm: That's all for this session, but join me again in fifteen minutes for the next session: controller of ITV, Peter Fincham.

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