20) ROBERT THIRKELL (Ex-BBC Business Creative Director, now head honcho at his own company) - The man with perhaps the most difficult brief in television (make business interesting) wisely eschewed endless series of people with big red marker pens and flip boards and Who Moved My Cheese and instead treated business programming as an extension of popular documentary making, realising that a business theory is less interesting then the individual who religiously attempts to implement it (such that conflicts with colleagues of a different mindset become an entertaining inevitability). Starting with John Harvey Jones' Troubleshooter series back in 1987, we reckon it was Thirkell that made endeavour and more importantly the conflict arising out of endeavour, suitable TV viewing, and so we're saying that without Robert there'd be no Grand Designs, Property Ladder, A Place In France, A Place In The Sun, Wife Swap or - indeed - C4 (at least as we know it today). Of his own productions, the long running Trouble At The Top is still doing the business where other such programmes have long since faded into obscurity - even though the Master himself has now moved on. Whether it's the rousing, over the top incidental music, or simply the innate ability to tell a great story, the most recent series (including the opening of the first ever EasyCinema) shows no signs of deviating from the Thirkell template - although we don't expect to see anything as majestic as the Interflora coup d'etat that was so memorably captured in an episode of Blood on The Carpet (another Thirkell production). Whereas producers of similar conflict-led documentaries such as Faking It seemed to have somehow lost the knack, the Thirk's fleet is still going great guns, and we can't wait to see what the man himself comes up with next.
19) JAMES GOSS (Senior Producer, http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult) - When James took over the Cult section in 2000, as far as we can remember it contained some very hard quizzes, a site about why Buffy was rubbish and a Simpsons screensaver. OK, so that Buffy site should have stuck to its guns, but otherwise we're full of admiration for BBCi's Cult pages nowadays. Obviously, we're of the opinion that tv.cream.org is your definitive online destination for bygone bacchanalia, but fair play to BBCi here - they've shoved some cracking stuff up online. For instance, what's the commercial imperative behind making genuine Blue Peter factsheets available to download in PDF form? Or knocking up Andrew Wiseman-style Flash animations of BBC clocks and continuity? Or putting episodes of Roobarb online for everyone to watch? Well, there isn't one, and that's what makes the care and attention lavished on the cult pages all the more praiseworthy. All due respect, then, to Goss and fellow BBCi Cults (at least, we think that's what it said - ho ho!) Rob Francis, Ann Kelly, Daniel Judd and Martin Trickey.
From James: "Thanks. I'm delighted to accept on behalf of the Cult site, which has always been a bit of a curiosity in the BBC's online stable - nearly every other site is dedicated to programmes that are actually still on the BBC. For all of the team, it's great to have a licence to have as much fun with the BBC's formidable history as we do - whether it's sitting around laughing at the jumpers on BREAKFAST TIME, lovingly restoring knackered old pictures of Daleks, or seeing whether Tom Welling will beat the four-second record for taking his top off in SMALLVILLE. And, just like David Boreanaz, the site gets bigger every year. Just trying to cope with the fact that they're bringing back DOCTOR WHO has sent us all scurrying for cover. Personally, I'm chuffed and delighted. Especially as you found a picture of me with good hair."
18) STUART MACONIE (Writer, DJ and pop culture pundit) - He only ever talks about Spacedust and Magpie! In fact, he only ever lives his life in what he imagines the seventies were like! Ha ha ha! Funny how nobody in the media ever does those jokes about Gina Yashere - and as Stuart pointed out, when an Observer writer recently wrote that he'd like to see less Maconie nostalgia on TV in 2004, he'd not actually recorded such a talking head slot for three years. Let us instead praise the man who brought us the veritable smorgasbord, "England's steepish lake", On The Case, Hit Parade ("Royhay!"), Movie Club and getting Blur to talk about how much they hated each other. Lest we lose sight of his abilities, this is a career bookended by being a prime mover smoking jacket/prime Thrills! era NME and recently fitting so well into the Radio 2 drivetime slot that, while we wish no malice on the man, we kind of think bringing Johnnie Walker back was a step back from the kind of inventive scheduling we thought The Light Programme was into now. Oh, and he's had time to write a book, which we quite liked.
17) NICKY CAMPBELL (DJ and presenter) - No, really. A lot have Nicholas Andrew Argyle Campbell marked down as an over-reaching, vindictive daytime pop DJ with ideas above his station, but then that's hardly the point. Into The Night was good, after all. The first indication we had of his ambitions was through Friday night regional shoutathon Central Weekend Live, a show only really set for the annals of TV through a full scale brawl once breaking out in the audience, leading to arrests and at least one hospital admittance, over the hugely divisive politicised issue of whether women should be allowed to play football ("Are you going to show me the fucking red card?"). Then he was merely the afternoon 1FM jock with The Number 9 Game, but he properly set his stall out upon moving to 5 Live, being unafraid of on-air conflict while able to handle the lighter stuff too, all the while never lapsing into Jon Gaunt territory. True, the breakfast gig hardly started well, but his schtick would suffer opposite Humphrys and Naughtie, plus he once sent TVC a self-effacing email upon chancing across our not entirely positive write-up in Radio Cream so he's not entirely serious about his oeuvre. For all his pretentiousness, he's broken the mould of Radio 1 DJs by actually gaining respect from so-called 'proper' broadcasters, as well as those he left behind, and could be the only man to end up in a major BBC management role having previously done the Wednesday Word Game. And in any case, him over Scott Mills any day.
From Nicky: "My wife had our fourth baby daughter on Saturday and just when I thought life couldn't get any better - any more joyous - any more complete - this happens. The only tinge of sadness is that by the time my children are old enough to understand the significance of it, I'll be doing the coveted Sunday into Monday show on Radio Wick. Thanks."
16) MARK LEWISOHN (Journalist, comedy historian) - It was an idea so breathtakingly inspired you wonder why nobody did it before. Take a genre of television (in this case comedy) and document in loving detail every single example ever broadcast on British terrestrial television. Such was the way that Radio Times scribe Mark Lewisohn turned himself into a best selling author and instant TV Cream hero. What set the first edition of the Radio Times Guide To Comedy apart when it was first published was not so much the anoraky detail that listed transmission dates, directors, writers and cast membership but the genuine love the author had for his chosen subject. Avoiding the famous Leslie Haliwell trap of declaring old stuff = good, modern stuff = rubbish, Lewisohn sought to explain the appeal of everything that was popular whilst at the same time prodding the steaming carcasses of the shows that quickly died a death. Even imported US hits are treated fairly, Frasier hailed as a masterpiece, Friends acknowledged as insanely but sometimes mysteriously popular and the BBC's own scheduling of Seinfeld given a rightful kicking. Not only did 2003 see the publication of a long-awaited second edition but the text of the book was integrated in its entirety into the BBCi site ensuring that Lewisohn's labour of love can reach an appreciative worldwide audience. Happily, he also continues the day job as a writer for the Radio Times and for the weekly appearance of a surprise pic from the archives, we are proud to salute him.
15) WILL BRYANT (BBC Manchester) - Will Bryant and the archive unit at BBC Manchester have, in the past few years, produced dozens of clip shows of distinction, unearthing all sorts of cracking Creamy clips in the process. They're best known, of course, for the I Love... series, and the mediocre nineties incarnation shouldn't disguise that fact that the seventies and eighties episodes were some of the best examples of nostalgia telly ever. After a quiet period, the department announced they were back on song with I'm Dreaming of a TV Christmas, the excellent two-hour show on Christmas Eve 2003 which was undoubtedly the best thing on over the festive period. From a 20-minute tribute to Christmas Morning With Noel to extracts from the BBC's legendary Christmas tapes (Frank Bough dancing in the Grandstand studio! Fantastic!), mixed with talking heads of the calibre of Bill Cotton and Michael Hurll, it proved that this sort of show, done properly, has still got a future. At the moment the Manchester department are running the search for Britain's Best Sitcom, which has already produced Armando Iannucci's fascinating profile of Yes Minister and Johnny Vaughan's well-produced Porridge retrospective. So congratulations to Bryant, David Mortimer, Ricky Kelehar and the dozens of researchers in the North West for making the most of something we'd all love to do.
From Will: "I am obviously very flattered, not to say astonished, to be considered for such a prestigious list. It is a great tribute to the popular culture nostalgia shows broadcast by BBC Manchester over the past four or five years that series like I LOVE 70S, I LOVE 80S, and BRITAIN'S BEST SITCOM have caught the eye of archive connoisseurs like yourselves. It has to be said that my placing has caused a certain amount of mirth amongst my colleagues! There are a lot of names more appropriate than mine, far worthier for use as the figurehead for the department's archive output. Two stand out - firstly Alan Brown, who as Executive Producer masterminded the whole I Love series and oversaw most of the archive output from Manchester, and secondly Stephen McGinn who was heavily involved in the development and production of both the I Love series and Britain's Best Sitcom."
14) ANDREW COLLINS (Writer and broadcaster) - He's nosed ahead of his illustrious sidekick by dint of a bulkier CV, the fact he pre-empted his colleague's bash at a wry autobiography by a whole 12 months, and because, well, he mentions TV Cream a lot on his radio programme. Andrew's career has taken in a mightily impressive and diverse range of vocations. A designer turned NME music journo, he worked up the ladder to become Editor of Q while simultaneously putting down roots in telly and radio; then came scriptwriting, which led to a stint penning EastEnders; film reviewing for Radio 4 and Radio Times; co-authorship of the BBC3 sitcom Grass; and the aforementioned book Where Did It All Go Right?, together with supporting website http://www.wherediditallgoright.com. Above all there's been his 6 Music show, Teatime. Having the thankless task of inheriting an audience direct from Liz Kershaw (although not for much longer; she's off - not him) would've seen lesser men throw in the towel for an occasional documentary series on Radio 2. Not Andrew. Over two years he's persistently built up a loyal following of his own while taking care to cultivate an easy rapport with listeners old and new; and even if the Talking Points are sometimes crap and the topical gags sound like the ones Mark Lawson used to flog at the start of Late Review, you know there'll be a whimsical piece of correspondence or a great record along in a few minutes. His domain safe after the latest 6 Music reshuffle, and with a second volume of memoirs on the way in the summer, his reputation as the raconteur's renaissance man grows ever stronger. A good showing, then, for Northampton's favourite son - although if he hadn't cut his hair last year he'd be a couple of places lower.
From Andrew: "I'm honoured, and flattered, although I don't feel much of a mover or shaker when I'm watching my sitcom go out at different times every week, untrailed, while, say, to pluck a name from the air, NIGHTY NIGHT gets a permanent slot, heavily advertised, even on BBC1, with all the attendant press coverage, but hey... this is not a time for bitterness. Being straight in at 14 in your list is a real shot in the arm. And I speak as a man who has acupuncture every Sunday. It's especially heartwarming, if a little unnerving for an essentially humble soul, to find myself above such respected colleagues and contemporaries as McGown, Wallace, Ellen, Peake and M*c*n** (he never calls, he never writes). I'm pleased to be behind John Yorke though, as he's one of the men most instrumental in kickstarting my media career, as he produced Collins & Maconie's humorous items for Radio Five's THE MIX and FABULOUS, and then became my boss at EASTENDERS, where to my mind, he oversaw its most recent and probably last golden age. I hope that the new-look TEATIME lives up the old-look Teatime, that Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now lives up to Where Did It All Go Right?, and that the second series of GRASS, er, gets commissioned by whoever takes over from the flagrant Ms Root. You've all done very well."
13) JOHN YORKE (Channel 4 drama supremo) - We argued long and hard in the TV Cream office about which of the major players in telly drama deserved to make it onto our list. Nominations were put forward and rejected for a variety of industry 'names' (such as Red Productions' Nicola Shindler, World Productions' Tony Garnett, Company's Charlie Patterson and Kudos' Jane Featherstone, all of whom have produced cracking series over the last 12 months) but we decided in the end that they were all a bit predictable and Broadcast-friendly. Commissioning Editors, on the other hand, are no one's friends - caught between a rock and a hard place. If they bring in a great programme then it's the producer or writer who's credited as brilliant. If they bring in a rubbish one, then they alone are to blame. John Yorke gets the nod above the other drama queens and kings by virtue of his balls-out approach to the job (making no bones about sending back Garnett's No Angels for a complete script overhaul), and a stolid commitment to strong, authored work. And we're happy to applaud him for bringing Shameless to our screens, nabbing The Deal from a gutless Granada and steering Channel 4 away from the kind of one-off, Hollywood-budget historical dramas it'd been doing for the last goodness-knows however many years. All this, and he weathered the 'getting shot of Brookside' storm with barely a hiccup too. We're looking forward to a promised series based around the lives of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, plus NY:Lon, one of those zeitgeist-capturing pieces that C4 used to do so well. Who'd have thought that the man who brought the Slaters to Albert Square (as Executive Producer on EastEnders) could also be the one to commission the next GBH?
12) ANDREW O'CONNOR (Media mogul and gameshow format wizard) - Funny how you can get people wrong. In our eyes until recently O'Connor was merely the slightly annoying Copy Cats and On The Waterfront makeweight destined for a career in daytime quiz shows, although he pulled his weight on Talkabout and Chai-aii-aiiin-Chain Letters. And now look - as head of Objective Productions he's responsible for the return of TV magic, having executive produced Derren Brown, Paul Zenon, Monkey Magic and, er, Stephen Mulhern on The Quick Trick Show, as well as two separate Greatest Magic Tricks Ever compilations. Throw in too the underrated Peep Show, Bedsitcom and, um, Five Go Dating. All this and he's been thrown out of the Magic Circle for overseeing BBC1's Secrets Of Magic. And what's Terry Randall doing now, eh?
From Andrew: "Thanks - whatever happened to that gameshow host?"
11) THE BLUE PETER TEAM (Self-explanatory) - It wasn't all that long ago that BP was fronted by the likes of Katy Hill, Stuart Miles and Romana D'Annunzio, all of whom clearly wanted to get off the show as soon as possible and do something more high-profile and better-paid. The fact that, since leaving, all their careers have completely collapsed ('comedian' Miles is now on digital gambling channel Sky Vegas Live) proves that presenting Blue Peter is one of the best jobs in telly, and the current team of Matt Baker, Liz Barker, Konnie Huq and Simon Thomas make it patently obvious that they're having the time of their lives. Matt's our favourite, of course, the latter-day John Noakes, only without the moaning and able to remember his lines. He's got so much enthusiasm he can make even the dullest item entertaining with a silly dance or bad pun. Not only is he massively popular with the viewers, but his two BAFTA awards for Best Presenter illustrate his talents. Liz, Simon and Konnie are also great presenters, relating to the young audience and always happy to don a silly wig or stupid costume. You can imagine them all playing pranks on each other on filming trips, a sense of teamwork that doesn't exist on many shows. None of them seems in a rush to leave the programme - Liz was the last to join and that was nearly four years ago - and after a dodgy few years, BP have a team they can be proud of. It's not been this good since Si, Saz and Pete.