ITV Studios shakes up senior production ranks, with Sally Debonnaire to retire

Sally Debonnaire

ITV Studios is restructuring its senior production ranks, following the decision by long-standing director of production, Sally Debonnaire, to retire early next year.

The company has created three new senior director of production roles to individually oversee UK scripted, UK non-scripted and international production. Matt Cleary and Helen Killeen will take responsibility for scripted and non-scripted, respectively, reporting into David McGraynor, chief operating officer. Ben Russell will oversee international production and report directly to Lisa Perrin, managing director of international production.

The company has also named four heads of production within the group, with Jeanette Moffat taking up the role at Lifted Entertainment, while Alice Gairdner will do so at ITV Studios Daytime. Meanwhile, in continuing dramaNader Mabadi and Lee Rayner will take up the position at ITV soaps Emmerdale and Coronation Street, respectively.

Matt Cleary

Decade-spanning career

Debonnaire, who joined ITV Studios in 2012, plans to retire from full-time production management by early 2022. She leads its global production management teams and has overseen the expansion of ITV Studios to a 60-strong production label business.

She also leads ITV Studios production strategy and implementation across the group and is ITV’s representative on the ScreenSkills Board.

Her 40-year career includes time as managing director of Talkback Productions, where she worked on shows including The Day Today, QI and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and at Avalon Television, where she oversaw the relaunch of Harry Hill’s TV Burp and the launching of Not Going Out.

From there she went on to join the BBC as controller of production operations, Vision Productions, and was accountable for the day-to-day management of the production slate including programmes such as EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing and Top Gear.

Helen Killeen

Expanding the ranks

Cleary takes on his new role with more than 25 years of experience, previously serving as head of production for drama and continuing drama, while Killeen served as head of production daytime. Russell, meanwhile, has been with ITV for more than 23 years, including time as head of production operations at ITV Sport.

Moffat is another ITV veteran, joining more than 20 years ago and becoming Lifted Entertainment’s deputy head of production in 2019. Gairdner has worked in production management since 2007 and started in factual programming. She was appointed deputy head of production daytime in 2020.

Mabadi, meanwhile, has been with ITV for 18 years and has worked on productions within entertainment, drama and continual drama in many different operational and office-based production roles. He was appointed senior production manager in 2018.

Rayner has served as a production scheduler and served as production manager on Coronation Street and Death In Paradise.

Ben Russell

Julian Bellamy, MD of ITV Studios, commented: “Matt, Helen and Ben will lead teams that are capable of driving innovation and the sharing of best practice across all our UK and international businesses and I’m delighted to have them on board. It is also testament to the strength of the talent we have working for us that Jeanette, Alice, Nader and Lee have all been promoted to their new roles.”

He added: “Sally will remain at ITV Studios for the next few months and we’ll all have the chance to say a proper goodbye to her sometime next year. In the meantime, it’s typical of Sally’s leadership that she’s put in place such a well organised transition plan with a brilliant production management team.”

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