BBC Studios taps Red Planet for Wales drama chief

Scripted-logo-460_2Simon WinstoneRed Planet Pictures’ Simon Winstone is joining the production arm of UK pubcaster the BBC.

He will be head of drama – Wales at BBC Studios, which this month switched from a non-profit organisation to a wholly-owned BBC commercial subsidiary.

BBC Studios’ Welsh productions include sci-fi stalwart Doctor Who, soap Casualty (which head of continuing drama Oliver Kent oversees) and big-ticket period drama War and Peace. It is also behind Russell T. Davies’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Winstone (pictured) will oversee drama series and serials, and all productions out of the Cardiff scripted unit. With the BBC now able to produce for third party broadcasters following the BBC Studios rejig, he will target both BBC channels and other UK and international networks.

At indie Red Planet, which former Eastenders chief Tony Jordan founded, Winstone held posts such as head of drama for Wales, head of development and, more recently, executive producer. His credits include Death in Paradise, Dickensian, and Hooten and the Lady.

BBC Worldwide, the sales arm of the BBC, owns 25% of Red Planet’s unscripted division, and struck a first-look deal for drama with Jordan in 2014.

Winstone will join on May 15, and report to director of scripted Nick Betts, who said: “Simon is a highly talented and experienced creative, who has already contributed to the success of two of BBC Studios’ biggest dramas over the years – EastEnders and Doctor Who. I am delighted to be welcoming him to BBC Studios at this exciting time.”

Betts was hired as one of three business-focused genre chiefs at BBC Studios last year – the others being Lisa Opie for factual and Roger Leatham for entertainment and live events. The structure sees this executive layer supporting various creative units in their fields, with key production execs reporting in to them.

There are a number of new divisional heads within BBC Studios, with Julian Hector named at the top of the Natural History Unit in September last year and ex-Optomen Television exec Jon Swaine tapped to run the Popular Factual arm as two examples.