Volume 73, Number 5 | June 2 - 8, 2004

Iselin is honored by queen of England for work at WNET

On May 28, Her Majesty The Queen of England awarded John Jay Iselin, former president of The Cooper Union and current president of the Marconi Fellowship Foundation at Columbia University, an honorary CBE, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The honor is “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British television interests in the United States, his services to Cambridge University and the Marshall Scholarships,” according to a press release from the British Consulate General.

“As president of WNET Channel 13, a Public Broadcasting Service flagship channel, Mr. Iselin was the driving force behind a distinctive schedule of programming, which elevated WNET to one of the two leading public television stations in America. In so doing, he nurtured key relationships with the BBC and various ITV companies that opened the door for the incredible penetration of British television into the American market,” the press release continued.

Programs broadcast in the U.S. as a result of Iselin, included “Upstairs/Downstairs” in 1973-’74, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” in 1974-’75, and later “I Claudius,” “We Interrupt This Week,” John Le Carré’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Co-production agreements he oversaw included “Brideshead Revisited,” “Jewel in the Crown,” and Dickens’ “Hard Times.”

In the sciences, WNET launched “Nature,” relying heavily on acquisitions from and co-productions with British science units, particularly the BBC. He was also instrumental in the acquisition of many BBC arts productions for WNET’s distinguished “Great Performances” series, including the co-production with BBC of “Magic of Dance” with Dame Margot Fonteyn. Iselin also oversaw WNET’s unprecedented six-year series of “The Shakespeare Plays.”

Iselin served for 20 years on the board of the American Friends of Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and has chaired the New York Marshall Selection Committee since October 2001.

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