Dame Elan Closs Stephens appointed acting chairwoman of BBC

Dame Elan Closs Stephens has been appointed acting chairwoman of the BBC following Richard Sharp’s departure.

Mr Sharp resigned after publication of a report which found he broke the rules by failing to disclose that he played a role in getting then-prime minister Boris Johnson an £800,000 loan guarantee.

BBC chairman post
Richard Sharp resigned as BBC chairman after failing to disclose his connection to a loan for former prime minister Boris Johnson (DCMS/PA)

The Government announced on Friday that Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has appointed Dame Elan as chairwoman of the BBC board from June 27 for 12 months, or until a new permanent chairperson has been appointed, whichever is sooner.

Ms Frazer said: “I am pleased that Dame Elan will take up the position of acting chair of the BBC and has the unanimous support of the board.

“When she takes over, Dame Elan will provide stability in the leadership of the BBC while a process to appoint a new permanent chair is run.”

Dame Elan has been a member of the BBC’s governing body since 2010, serving then as the member for Wales when it was the BBC Trust.

She then continued as the Welsh member of the BBC Board and has been the chairwoman of the Wales committee, and from 2019 to 2022 also served as chairwoman of the BBC’s commercial subsidiary.

She 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.”

Dame Elan’s other work with broadcasters includes serving for two terms as chairwoman of Welsh-language broadcaster S4C between 1998 and 2006.

In a statement, the BBC board – which was consulted before the appointment in line with the corporation’s Royal Charter – said: “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.”

Under the BBC’s Charter an acting chairperson must be an existing non-executive director on the BBC board.

The role comes with an annual salary of £160,000.

Dame Elan still serves the BFI as a non-executive director of the Imax Cinema in Waterloo 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 and member of the UK Electoral Commission Board.

Dame Elan, a native Welsh speaker who lives in Aberystwyth and has two children, has also served as vice chairwoman of the Welsh Language Board.