BBCS names Jonny Keeling to replace Julian Hector as head of NHU

Jonny Keeling

BBC Studios (BBCS) Productions has appointed Jonny Keeling as the next head of its renowned Natural History Unit (NHU).

Keeling replaces Julian Hector, who revealed in April he would be stepping down, and will be responsible for all of the NHU’s creative and commercial activity. He reports into Tom McDonald, BBCS’s MD of factual.

He was previously head of NHU Children’s, where he executive produced Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and Deadly Pole To Pole, while other credits include Planet Earth, Planet Earth II, and Seven Worlds, One Planet. He has also developed projects genres including animation, comedy, and drama.

Julian Hector

The NHU’s recent slate has included Frozen Planet II and Chris & Megs’ Wild Summer, as well as Apple TV+’s The Year Earth Changed, National Geographic’s Ocean Xplorers, Endangered for Discovery, and The Americas for NBCUniversal.

BBC said Keeling would “further develop the NHU’s presence in North America” via its new LA base, while also overseeing the NHU’s move to its new premises in the UK city of Bristol.

Hector had been ion chrge at the NHU for five years, producing shows such as Blue Planet II, Dynasties, and the forthcoming The Green Planet for the BBC.

McDonald said: “Jonny is one of the best blue chip Natural History executives in the industry – and has a depth of experience not just in landmark programming but in a huge variety of tones & forms. As well as being passionate about the quality of the NHU’s programming, he’s a brilliant leader: ambitious and inspiring, and I cannot wait to work with him to continue the NHU’s incredible growth.”

Keeling added: “The unit plays an increasingly urgent and vital role in telling impactful stories from the natural world during a time in which our planet faces unprecedented challenges. My ambition is simple – to produce high-quality content that’s original, ambitious and compelling and to ensure that the NHU remains the most respected maker of wildlife programming in the world.”

Keeling is currently series producer on Planet Earth III and will assume his new role in December, when Hector formally departs.

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