One of the most prominent gay executives in British television is to take up a new role at troubled terrestrial broadcaster ITV.

From October Dawn Airey will take charge of in-house production.

Ms Airey, 46, is best known for her tenure as chief executive of Five, where she successfully helped shed the channel’s “football, films and fucking” image, as she called it.

She has a formidable reputation within the industry, and has been dubbed ‘scary Airey.’

A graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, she has previously worked for the ITV network as controller and then director of programme planning at the now-defunct Central Independent Television until 1992.

She became controller of daytime and children’s programmes at ITV Network Centre 1993, moving to become controller of arts and entertainment Channel Four in 1994.

She spent six years at Channel Five before being snapped up by Sky, where she was managing director of Sky Networks until this year.

Her partner, Jacquie Lawrence, recently gave birth to a baby girl.

Last month she left media group Iostar after a week when she discovered it did not have the funding she expected.

The group later went into liquidation.

She rejoins ITV at a critical time for the broadcaster.

Although still one of the most-watched in the UK, it continues to suffer from falling ratings and advertising revenue.

Ms Airey was listed at number 88 on the Independent on Sunday Pink List of influential gay people in 2007.