BBC Children’s Jackie Edwards to head up BFI Young Audiences Content Fund

The BBC’s head of children’s acquisitions and animation, Jackie Edwards, has been appointed as head of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF).

The YACF is a new pilot delivered by the BFI as part of the UK Government’s support for “distinct, high-quality content” for children and young audiences to be broadcast on UK Public Service Broadcasters’ channels and platforms.

The Fund will offer production funding for projects which have secured a broadcast commitment from a UK PSB to make the programme available to a UK audience on a free-to-access, Ofcom-regulated service.

Development funding will also be available to support emerging producers, for which a broadcaster commitment is not necessary. One of the other priorities of the Fund is to support content which is reflective of UK cultural identity and the nations and regions – both on screen and off screen – with a commitment to support content in UK indigenous languages.

Edwards will join the BFI in February and will be based in Leeds, with the Fund opening for applications in April. The Fund is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Contestable Fund and assigns the BFI up to £57m to deliver a three-year pilot.

The departing BBC exec will report to BFI deputy CEO, Ben Roberts, and work on the final design and implementation of the fund.

Edwards has been the BBC’s head of children’s acquisitions and independent animation since 2015, delivering programming for 0-16 year olds. As well as overseeing the strategy for her department, Edwards was responsible for pre-buying and acquiring live action and animated programming.

She joined the BBC in 2008 as CBeebies content manager and later as executive producer, working on programmes including Tree Fu Tom, Octonauts, Bing, Rastamouse and Clangers.

Roberts said:“Jackie’s passion for public service broadcasting, and her extensive experience in original and high-quality programmes for young people of all ages, made her the perfect choice to help us shape and deliver the Fund.

“The landscape for television audiences is evolving at speed, but the appetite for innovative, relevant material which speaks to today’s young people feels as strong as ever. In supporting the UK’s world class indie sector, and working with broadcasters, I’m confident that Jackie and her new team will create something potentially game changing.”

Edwards said: “While I will be sad to leave BBC Children’s, the role of Head of Young Audiences Content Fund was simply irresistible as it presents a unique opportunity to revivify and diversify the kids public service broadcast landscape in the UK.”