“Most success comes from complete madness,” says Lord Michael Grade, addressing the current cohort of students at BOA Stage and Screen in Birmingham, “you have to be open to risk.”

Speaking on topics ranging from diversity in the media, interview tips and his well-known distaste for BBC’s hit Doctor Who, Birmingham-based production academy BOA Stage and Screen welcomed Lord Michael Grade. The current chairman of Ofcom – The Office of Communications – and former controller of BBC1 spoke to the students on his success and career in the creative industry.

“You can’t break without an open-mind and diverse workforce,” answers Lord Michael Grade to a student question regarding diversity in media, “what’s missing is the diversity of people in power… That will change. It will take time.”

Lord Grade notably helped make British sitcom history after buying the scripts to American sitcom Good Times, adapting it to the well-known, first British sitcom with an all-black cast The Fosters (1976-1977). Originally being met with challenge, it went on to become a well-loved and remembered piece of sit-com history. “I was allowed to take risks… I always wanted to reach and do something different,” he said, commenting on what he viewed as any decisions he made which altered TV history.

Lord Grade spoke about the importance of risk in the creative industry, “I’ve never backed anything I wouldn’t defend publicly… The Word used to get me into trouble every Friday night at 10:30!”

The 1990s show, notorious for its controversial subject matters, ran for a total of 104 episodes, with moments such as Nirvana’s international TV debut of hit Smells Like Teen Spirit. Its late-night slot allowed for topics which were not being discussed on regular TV to be talked on, earning a sponsorship from Tango in 1994.

“It’s all been an adventure really,” he answered on his favourite career moment, “Live Aid that summer was a seismic event… it showed TV as a force for good. I was very proud to be involved.”

Through his visit, he has inspired the cohort on their studies at the Birmingham-based academy, which looks forward to welcoming more guest speakers in its future.