Ben Stephenson, the BBC chief of drama responsible for the corporation's major hits Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Poldark and Wolf Hall, is joining J.J Abrams' company Bad Robot Productions.

LutherBen Stephenson was responsible for a string of hits including Luther, with Idris Elba

Stephenson has led BBC drama since 2008 and is generally regarded as the most powerful television executive in the UK. 

He will take up the role of head of television at Bad Robot, which has recently made the CBS sci-fi crime drama Person of Interest and the forthcoming TV adaptation of Michael Crichton's Westworld. It's previous TV shows have included Alias and Lost and has worked on major films including the Mission Impossible franchise and the latest Star Trek films.

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At the BBC, Stephenson also spearheaded the revival of drama on BBC2, scoring hits with the superb Peaky Blinders, as well as The Fall, Line of Duty and The Honourable Woman.

On BBC1, his other successes include Happy Valley, The Missing and Luther.

SherlockSherlock is also the work of Stephenson

Stephenson said: "Running BBC drama has been an honour - it's the most fun job in British TV.

"Whilst it's a massive wrench to leave I cannot wait to begin a new adventure in LA with JJ. I have long admired his work and am thrilled to be joining the Bad Robot family."

The BBC's director of television Danny Cohen said: "Ben has made a truly extraordinary impact on the British drama industry in the last few years.

"The quality, range and ambition of BBC drama is testament to his creative power, strategic thinking and immense passion for great writing. The BBC owes Ben a great debt of gratitude and I will miss him greatly, personally and professionally."

The BBC has already begun the hunt for Stephenson's successor. 

More: Benedict Cumberbatch expects to play Sherlock "as an old man"