By this time one of the senior producers working in the BBC's drama department, in 1977 he was promoted to become the Head of Serials. This department was merged with the Series department in 1980, and MacDonald became head of the new larger Series & Serials department which ensued. In 1981, he was promoted again to succeed Shaun Sutton as the overall Head of Drama at BBC Television.
MacDonald was promoted again in 1983, becoming the Controller of BBC Two, the first ever BBC channel controller to come from a background in the drama department. He was controller of the channel until 1987 (combining it with his Head of Drama role until he left this post in 1985), during which the Zircon affair erupted surrounding an edition of the Secret Society documentary series due to be shown on the channel.
MacDonald retired in the summer of 1987, and died ten years later.
Graeme MacDonald Facts