Tessa Ross, CBE to step down as Channel 4 Controller of Film and Drama


Tessa Ross will be stepping down from her role as Channel 4 Controller of Film and Drama later this year having been appointed as Chief Executive of the National Theatre.

Commenting on her departure David Abraham, Channel 4’s Chief Executive, has said: “Tessa has made as big a contribution to Channel 4 as anyone in its history. I would like to personally thank her for her extraordinary commitment, talent and leadership over 13 remarkable years. I am looking forward to working with her over the summer on a number of important projects, including Todd Haynes’ Carol, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth.

“Tessa’s job is one of the most coveted in film, both in the UK and internationally, and while she leaves big shoes to fill, we will shortly begin the task of identifying a new leader for the next chapter of Film4’s story. Meanwhile our commitment to investing in independent British film remains undimmed and we have every intention of building on the extraordinary reputation Tessa has created.”

Tessa Ross said: “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the National Theatre but it is with a heavy heart I leave this wonderful organisation and the brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work beside over the past 13 years. I leave behind a dedicated, passionate team at Film4 – not only colleagues but true friends – and an important organisation in its mother Channel 4. It’s been an absolute honour to work with the writers, directors, producers and the many other talented people I’ve collaborated with during my time here, relationships I look forward to continuing. I’ve loved every minute of the work, and am privileged that the public purpose that has been at the heart of it – of discovering, nurturing and supporting great artists and great work – is something I shall be able to continue to champion and celebrate in my new role.”

Tessa will remain in post until September 2014, and will stay on as Chair of the Growth Fund Advisory Council once in her new role.

Tessa Ross joined Channel 4 in 2000 and became Head of Film4 in 2003, followed by Controller of Film and Drama in 2008. Under Tessa Ross Film4 has built a worldwide reputation for developing and financing bold and distinctive films such as Steve McQueen's recent Oscar and BAFTA-winning 12 Years a Slave; Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which won multiple awards including eight Oscars and seven BAFTAs; Kevin Macdonald's Oscar-winning The Last King of Scotland; and BAFTA-winning This is England by Shane Meadows.

Working with the most exciting British talent has been key in Film4’s success, reflected in films such as Clio Barnard's The Selfish Giant, Bart Layton’s The Imposter, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, Steve McQueen’s Hunger and Shame, Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, and The Iron Lady, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Meryl Streep.

Current films on release are Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin and Starred Up, directed by David Mackenzie; upcoming films include, amongst others, Richard Ayoade’s The Double, Yann Demange’s ‘71, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, Mike Leigh's Mr Turner, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Sarah Gavron's Suffragette, and Carol, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

During her earlier stewardship of Channel 4 Drama, Tessa Ross successfully implemented a strategy that cemented a drama reputation based on risk and innovation. Pieces commissioned during that time include Shameless, Teachers, Not Only But Always, White Teeth, No Angels and Sex Traffic. Tessa came to Channel 4 from the BBC’s Independent Commissioning Group where she was Head of Drama; television and film she commissioned included Billy Elliot, Clocking Off and Playing the Field. She was educated at Oxford University and spent her early career as a literary agent after a postgraduate training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Tessa Ross was on the board of the National Theatre from 2011 – 2014. She has previously been a governor at the NFTS, a member of the ICA Council and a governor at the BFI. She is an honorary associate of the London Film School and an Honorary Fellow at the NFTS. She was also a member of Chris Smith’s Film Policy Review panel. Tessa was appointed CBE in the New Year 2010 Honours List and received the 2013 Bafta for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.

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