UK-based BBC Studios Natural History Unit has appointed Jess Colman and Laura Harris as joint heads of development.
They will replace the current head of development, Gavin Boyland, who will be moving into a series producer position within the unit to lead an as-yet unannounced “ambitious landmark series.”
Reporting into the new head of Natural History Unit, Jonny Keeling, Colman and Harris will be tasked with generating and securing business across all platforms as well as seeking out and developing new on and off-screen talent.
Colman has been promoted into the role from her current position as development executive for the Natural History Unit, having previously led UK and SVOD projects, including BBC’s upcoming Asia, the environmental series, Our Changing Planet, Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins and The Year Earth Changed for Apple TV+.
She previously served as head of development for Bristol-based indie, True to Nature and daytime development executive for BBC Studios. She has produced and series produced a range of factual programmes, including Coast, Big Blue UK, Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word, and Channel 4’s environmental campaign, Jamie’s Fish Fight.
Harris, meanwhile, will be returning to the Natural History Unit after two years as head of development at Netflix-backed indie Freeborne Media and Seadog TV, and has commissioned shows such as Great National Parks and Oceans for Netflix and My Family and the Galapagos for Channel 4.
Whilst previously at the Natural History Unit, she developed Endangered for Discovery Channel, the unit’s first non-BBC Commission.
Harris has 15 years’ experience producing and directing television for the global market across natural history, science, history, obs-doc and adventure genres, including Secret Life Of Dogs for ITV, Bear Grylls Ultimate Survivor for Discovery Channel, Richard Hammond’s Jungle Quest for Sky1 and Man & Beast With Martin Clunes for ITV.
“Innovation and creativity are at the heart of the Natural History Unit – to have both Jess and Laura combining their skills and experience to lead the development team will ensure we continue to deliver compelling wildlife content of the highest quality, telling original stories with emotional impact,” commented Keeling.