BBC Studios restructures Documentary Unit & hires 72 Films exec

Tom McDonald

BBC Studios (BBCS) has restructured its factual production operations with the expansion of The Documentary Unit and a number of new hires.

BBCS Production’s unscripted arm Factual Salford – which focuses on consumer and topical content – is being merged with The Documentary Unit, which will sit alongside fellow genre-focused divisions The Natural History Unit and The Science Unit.

Amy Flanagan remains head of The Documentary Unit and will continue to work with Tom McDonald, the former BBC commissioner who was appointed director of factual at BBCS Productions last year. As part of the revamp, the duo have also drafted in a number of additional hires.

External & internal movements

The rejig will see former 72 Films and Wall To Wall exec Cate Hall, who joined BBCS Productions earlier this year, taking on the role of creative director for development. She has recently worked with Flanagan on BBC One feature doc Britain vs Coronavirus (w/t) and BBC Two’s history format In Ten Pictures (w/t).

Alan Holland, currently creative director for Factual Salford, will take on an expanded role as creative director for Scotland and Salford, with a remit to secure new business while overseeing the Glasgow, Aberdeen and Salford hubs. Glasgow-born Holland will assume the role immediately and relocate to Scotland next year.

Amy Flanagan

Elsewhere, Kirsty Cunningham has been appointed as head of programmes for London and Cardiff, joining from 72 Films. She will be based in London and will take up her post in January, while other additions include Cardiff-based duo exec producer Joe Mather and producer Juliet Piper, who both join from BBC Studios Factual Entertainment.

Carl Doran will also be joining The Documentary Unit on attachment from the BBC as executive producer for sport, also starting in January.

Digital development

McDonald has also bolstered factual’s digital team, which works across the genre units to win commissions from digital and audio platforms.

This division has added Molly Milton as executive producer for on-screen talent, while Arif Zaman becomes exec producer for originals, partnerships and talent, and will work out of San Francisco. The duo both report to creative lead Georgia Moseley.

McDonald, who was head of natural history and specialist factual commissioning before his current role, said: “Both the Documentary Unit and the Digital Team have had significant success this year despite the challenges of a global pandemic, so this is the perfect moment to strengthen the creative leadership in both teams.

“As well as ensuring there will be senior editorial and production staff in each of our bases, evolving into three factual units also presents us with a clearer face to market. I’m thrilled that these new senior hires will be bringing their ideas, energy and creativity to BBC Studios Factual.”

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