YouView appoints Alan Sugar to get fired up over Internet TV

Cantankerous reality TV star Baron Sugar is the new non-executive chairman of the BBC-led YouView. What will the former Amstrad boss bring to Internet television?

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
2 min read

Bolshie boardroom telly star Alan Sugar has joined YouView. The Apprentice boss is the new non-executive chairman of the BBC-led consortium developing the YouView Internet television portal.

YouView announced that peer of the realm Baron Sugar of Clapton replaces former Ofcom exec Kip Meek in the non-exec role at YouView, previously known as Project Canvas. Sirralan has been drafted in to provide "additional expertise in consumer marketing and technology delivery" as YouView inches towards launch. 

Thanks to reality TV boardroom pantomime The Apprentice, Sugar's caricatured barrow boy-turned-big shot has become the public face of British business. He's made millions with computer companies Amstrad and Viglen, with experience of supplying Amstrad boxes to Sky customers -- but he's also the man who in 2005 predicted the iPod would be "dead, finished, gone, kaput". His involvement in the project will at least help the average viewer become more aware of YouView.

The cantankerous reality TV star gives an interesting insight into his psyche with his combative Twitter feed, where he engages in robust banter with followers and childish hair-pulling with the equally tedious Piers Morgan. Whether it's all real or a tongue-in-cheek soap opera for the benefit of viewers is open to question.

Sugar has no time for 'Steady Eddies' or 'Cautious Carols', so maybe he can impart a sense of urgency to the project: the biggest problem faced by the service is the amount of time it'll take to launch. The consortium, comprising the BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva, won't launch YouView until early 2012.

That's a whole year for rivals such as broadcasters Sky and Virgin Media, or manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung and LG, to perfect their own IPTV portals and sign more deals with content suppliers such as LoveFilm and catch-up services. Can Sugar's baronial input help YouView achieve its telly-conquering potential -- or will YouView hear "You're fired"?

Image credit: TV.com UK