Talkback Thames head of drama Paul Marquess is expected to announce his move to rival independent Endemol in the next few weeks.
Marquess, who is executive producer of The Bill and Family Affairs, has held talks with the company which makes shows such as Big Brother and Changing Rooms.
He is credited with turning round the fortunes of the ITV1 police drama when he took over in 2001, improving the audience share of the Channel 5 soap and with experience on Coronation Street and Brookside. Marquess also engineered the first live episode of The Bill and last year launched an interactive storyline for Family Affairs, where audiences could determine the outcome of a love triangle.
His move to Endemol indicates a new direction from an indie best known for reality programmes, as it has no previous experience producing drama. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the deal.
The news comes after BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey revealed she is to leave the Corporation to become chief executive at Talkback Thames in June, following Peter Fincham’s resignation earlier this year.