Ben Frow

Channel 5's controller Ben Frow: An audience with the outsider

Jay Hunt and Ben Frow (credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

Ben Frow is nothing if not candid. During a high-energy RTS two-way with Jay Hunt, the architect of Channel 5’s revival gave an insight into how he’s turned around a broadcaster that last year enjoyed its strongest performance since 2009.  

“Quite a few of you turned up thinking this would be the channel controllers’ version of Fight Club,” joked Hunt, one of British TV’s most successful content supremos, most notably at Channel 4 – she is now creative director, Europe, worldwide video at Apple. 

Five thrives under Ben Frow

They say that good things come in threes. When Channel 5 won Channel of the Year at March’s RTS Programme Awards, beating Sky Atlantic and BBC Three, the accolade followed identical wins at February’s Broadcast Awards and the 2018 Edinburgh TV Awards.

“It was thrilling to win Channel of the Year,” says the station’s director of programmes, Ben Frow, looking dapper in a dark T-shirt. “We’ve won each one once; we’ve finally got them all. I wouldn’t actually enter another channel of the year [competition].

Channel 5 to partner up with BAME owned production companies

Ben Frow (Credit: The TV Collective)

The new initiative is part of the commitment made by channel 5 to create mainstream programmes that accurately reflect contemporary Britain.

The TV Collective was founded ten years ago by Simone Pennant and promotes the commercial and creative value that having diversity can bring to British film and TV studios.

Channel 5 are looking for nine small or medium size BAME companies, primarily based in the regions, who are owned and managed by BAME talent.

Ben Frow: The passionate TV exec

Ben Frow

Ben Frow is not as other directors of programmes. They tend to be sober, jargon-ridden and cautious – at least when speaking to me. They talk of "passion" but rarely show it: steady as the ratings sink or, occasionally, rise. Frow is funny, camp and outspoken, easily bruised and easily enthused.


He was obviously not what Richard Desmond, the Daily Express publisher and, for four years, owner of Channel 5, was expecting either, when he summoned him for a job interview in 2012.

Improv adds realism to cop show

Channel 5 is renowned neither for its homegrown drama nor for attracting critical praise, but Suspects gives it both. The cop show has notched up three series since its TV debut in February 2014 and, at the end of April, it was the subject of an RTS London event at ITV’s London Studios.