Elan Closs Stephens named as BBC acting chair


Elan Closs Stephens

UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has named Elan Closs Stephens as the acting chair of the BBC, replacing Richard Sharp who will step down on June 27, following a report that found he breached the code on public appointments.

Sharp who was appointed to the role in 2021, announced his resignation in April. The former Goldman Sachs banker was alleged to have facilitated a loan for former prime minister Johnson in 2020 which prompted an investigation by the commissioner of Public Appointments. The report concluded that there “is a risk of a perception that Mr Sharp was recommended for appointment” having assisted with Johnson’s private financial issues. It added that there was also a risk that disclosing his intention to apply could have influenced the then-PM “to recommend him by informing him of his application before he submitted it.”

Stephens has been a non-executive director on the BBC Board since July 2017, and prior to that she was the trustee for Wales on the BBC Trust for seven years. Between 2019 and 2022, she was chair of the Commercial Holdings Board for BBC Studios.

Stephens has a background in in broadcasting, the creative industries and academia. She served as chair of the Welsh-language broadcaster, S4C, and is currently the pro-chancellor and professor Emerita in Communications and Creative Industries at Aberystwyth University. She is also the electoral commissioner for Wales.

Under the BBC’s Charter an acting chair must be an existing non-executive director on the BBC Board. The non-exec will remain in post as acting chair while the UK Government undertakes the process to appoint a new, permanent BBC Chair in the next several months.

Commenting on her appointment, Stephens said: “It’s a huge honour to be appointed by the Secretary of State as Acting Chair and I am grateful to my fellow Board Members for putting their trust in me. As a Board, we will champion the licence fee payer across all of the UK; ensure the BBC is a vital partner for the UK creative industries; maintain trust and drive change to make the BBC fit for a fast changing media landscape. There is much work to be done.”

The BBC Board added, “Elan has been an active and distinguished member of the BBC Board who has brought huge energy and drive to her role as Member for Wales. We are delighted that she is taking up the role as Acting Chair; she is the ideal choice.”

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