Alex Mahon describes herself on Twitter as an “insatiable TV watcher, feminist and mother of 4”. Ask almost anyone else in the television industry about the newly appointed chief executive of Channel 4 and they invariably mention that she is good company and has a PhD in physics, not necessarily in that order.
The first woman to head the state-owned company committed to diversity, or indeed any of the big British broadcasters, Mahon is likely to need all her intelligence, charm and contacts to deal with the challenges facing Channel 4.
Born in London, Mahon moved to Edinburgh at the age of five, where she grew up with her mother and stepfather. In a relatively rare interview with the Scotsman newspaper, she talked of a “non-standard household” that eventually grew to nine stepbrothers and sisters and an early job in her mother’s pharmacy.
After studying physics at Imperial College London, she left medical research, becoming first a consultant and then strategy executive for the broadcaster RTL. After six years working with Elisabeth Murdoch at Shine TV, she became chief executive in 2012, overseeing companies that produced hits from Broadchurch to MasterChef.