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Mr Roly Keating

Why I've joined the Warwick Commission:

The global reputation of British culture has never been higher. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was an exceptional platform to promote the best of what this country has to offer in terms of its art and creativity. This theme continues through the Government’s GREAT campaign, where images of our great national institutions feature proudly on campaign posters.

More people are engaging with culture than ever before. And yet the cultural sector has never been under such pressure financially. National and local funding is feeling the squeeze and difficult decisions are being made about cultural provision.

This means that the Commission could not be more timely. We were asked by the Culture Secretary earlier this year to help make the economic case for culture. Social, educational and international value are equally vital to the debate. By whatever measure, we need evidence that is robust enough to stand up to scrutiny and I’m sure this Commission will have a significant contribution to make.


Roly Keating is Chief Executive of the British Library. He took up his post in September 2012. He was previously Director of Archive Content at the BBC, and a former Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four.

Keating, born in 1961, graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1983 with a first class degree in Classics. He joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1983. As a producer and director in Music and Arts, he made films for Omnibus, Bookmark and Arena. He was a founder producer and subsequently editor of the long-running arts and media magazine The Late Show and was also editor of the literary series Bookmark. In 1997, he became Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC's joint venture channels with Flextech, including UK Style, UK Horizons and the re-launched UK Gold.

In 1999 he was made BBC Controller of Digital Channels, with overall editorial responsibility for BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge, as well as UKTV and BBC Prime. The following year he became Controller of Arts Commissioning, with responsibility for music and arts programming across BBC Television, before moving to BBC Four in December 2001. As Controller of BBC Four, he led the launch of that channel in March 2002, where key programmes included The Falklands Play, The Alan Clark Diaries, and the UK premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2003 he was seconded for six months to act as joint leader of the BBC's Charter Review project.

From 2004 to 2008, Keating was Controller of BBC Two. Under his tenure he oversaw the launch of a raft of influential and popular returning series, including Dragons' Den, Coast, The Choir, Springwatch and The Apprentice, as well as memorable programming including Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain, The Power of Nightmares, and Jerry Springer The Opera. From October 2007 to May 2008 he combined his job on BBC Two with the role of Acting Controller, BBC One. BBC Two was named Broadcast Channel of the Year in 2007. In his role as Director of Archive Content, Keating was overall editorial leader for the BBC’s online services, including BBC iPlayer. This role was also responsible for the development and implementation of the BBC’s strategy to increase digital access to its massive archives, including the new Arts Council England partnership, The Space, and the proposed download-to-own initiative Project Barcelona.

Roly Keating