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BBC Studios names factual chief

UK pubcaster the BBC has gone in-house to appoint its first director of factual for its new BBC Studios production arm.

Lisa OpieCurrent controller of business for factual and daytime Lisa Opie has been named in the role, following the appointment of Roger Leatham, who became director of entertainment, music and events recently, and Nick Betts as genre director of scripted.

Opie’s position hands her control of various factual-focused production hubs, including the blue chip-focused BBC Natural History Unit.

As per a directive from BBC Studios director Mark Linsey, Opie’s appointment reflects a strong background in business and rights management. In her current role, she is responsible for all business activities across the BBC’s factual and daytime programming divisions, working with in-house and independent production companies.

At BBC Studios, she will work with creative leads, production management and business teams to drum up stronger competition.

Though not a like-to-like replacement, Opie in part takes over from Natalie Humphreys, who left in March after a spell as controller of daytime and factual.

Before joining the BBC, she was managing director of TwoFour Digital, where she created digital channels and content for brands, broadcasters and businesses. She also worked as MD of content for UK broadcaster Channel 5 and MD of Flextech Television, which was a partner in UKTV with the BBC.

“Factual is an enormously important area for BBC Studios and in Lisa we have the right leader to champion this part of our business. I’m consistently impressed by Lisa’s leadership style, clear decision making and immense energy and I know Lisa will give our creative teams the space and support to succeed.”

She takes up her new post immediately, meaning Linsey now has his business-minded genre controllers are now in place. Opie said she wanted to help “build a new, confident and entrepreneurial culture within BBC Studios”.

BBC Studios launched in April after a series of stutters and executive departures, including its founding director Peter Salmon. The division marks a significant moment in time for the licence fee-funded BBC, as it ultimately plans to produce for other networks and platforms as the UK’s pubcaster opens up more slots to indie producers.