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C4 taps Thames TV creative chief

Channel 4 in the UK has appointed the creative director at Fremantle-owned Thames as head of entertainment.

Phil Harris

Phil Harris will join the commercially funded public broadcaster in early 2020 and report to Karl Warner, controller of C4’s youth-skewing network E4. The news was confirmed on Twitter by C4’s director of programmes, Ian Katz, who described Harris as “one of the smartest people in entertainment TV.”

Harris, who created the popular C4 show Celebs Go Dating, fills a role made vacant earlier this year when previous incumbent Ed Harvard left C4 after seven years.

The role covers entertainment output and live events across the C4 portfolio and streaming service All4.

Emma Hardy, head of on-screen talent at C4, has been in the role on an interim basis since Harvard left and will continue to oversee the entertainment commissioning team until Harris arrives next year.

The team includes Tom Beck, head of live events and commissioning editor entertainment, and commissioning editors Steven Handley and Karen Murdoch.

Harris has spent the past two years at Thames, the UK’s biggest entertainment indie, where he is an executive producer on shows such as The Greatest Dancer for BBC1.

He also developed new commissions including E4’s forthcoming topical social media comedy clips show Rob Beckett’s Savage Socials.

Before Thames, Harris was previously head of entertainment at Lime Pictures, working on shows such as The Only Way is Essex. He also developed, produced and won an Emmy for Bravo’s real-time dating show The Singles Project in the US.

In related news, C4 has commissioned four-part series Snackmasters, fronted by First Dates star and renowned maître d’ Fred Sirieix.

In each episode, two chefs will battle it out to see who can create the most perfect replica of an iconic snack, such as the Kit Kat, a Snickers bar, the Burger King Whopper or a packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch.

The chefs will then bring their replicas to the very factories that mass-produce them, to be judged by the assembly line workers and bosses behind the real thing. It will be produced by Optomen TV, with executive producers Nick Hornby and Sarah Eglin. The commissioning editor is Alisa Pomeroy.

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