Former BBC Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer CBE, is today (1 June 2020) announced as the new chair of the Booker Prize Foundation (BPF). He takes up the role with immediate effect, succeeding Baroness Helena Kennedy QC who stepped down at the end of February. His appointment is for a maximum term of six years.
The first half of Damazer’s career was at the BBC where he was Editor of Television News, Head of Current Affairs and then Deputy Director of the News Division before becoming Controller of BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra in 2004.
In 2010 he became Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, a role which he relinquished last year. He was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for his services to broadcasting. He was a Trustee of the BBC from 2015 – 2017 and the senior Non Executive on the board of the V & A until December 2018.
He is currently chair of the examinations board of Trinity College, London and is on the Council of the Architecture Association.
The search for the new BPF chair was undertaken by a leading UK recruitment agency, Saxton Bampfylde. Starting with an extensive list of candidates, they managed a rigorous process, assisted by the BPF’s own nominations committee.
Mark joins the Foundation at a good stage in the life of both the Booker and the International Booker Prize. Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood, winners of the 2019 Fiction Prize, have both had soaring successes with their winning books while the shortlist announcement of the 2020 International Prize – including the prize’s first remotely produced virtual celebration – reached record numbers of readers globally.
Crankstart, a charitable foundation, supports The Booker Prize and The International Booker Prize. On 1 June 2019, exactly a year ago, Crankstart committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term with an option to renew for a further five years.
Mark Damazer says:
‘It is a thrill and an honour to become chair of the Booker Prize Foundation. The two Booker prizes are joyous celebrations of the finest fiction. For more than fifty years the Booker has generated excitement, energy and debate and it matters to those who have a love of literature – readers ,writers, publishers and booksellers. I hope the Booker can become even more influential and important for all who believe in the power of brilliant storytelling.
‘I thank all previous Chairs and sponsors for having nurtured the Booker, and Cranskstart, the current sponsor, for their generosity.’