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BBC Studios names comedy chief

The soon-to-launch BBC Studios has hired a comedy chief, who will effectively replace former comedy controller Myfanwy Moore.

Chris SussmanChris Sussman (pictured) has been named head of comedy at BBC Studios, the commercial production arm of the UK’s pubcaster, the BBC.

Sussman will move from his current post as commissioning editor for comedy at the BBC on April 1, the date BBC Studios is expected to officially begin operating (though various factions are attempting to derail the launch over myriad concerns about its impact on the indie sector).

He replaces Moore, who exited two years after joining from commercial rival ITV, and his arrival comes after Ben Farrell decided to move to All3Media-owned Objective Productions from the BBC’s in-house comedy unit.

The news also comes after BBC Studios director Peter Salmon announced a shock move to Endemol Shine Group, meaning he has effectively decided to move from the BBC production division before it gets going.

BBC Television’s controller of fiction and entertainment, Mark Freeland, made the appointment. Freeland himself becomes director of scripted for BBC Studios in April.

Sussman will lead BBC Studios comedy efforts across TV, radio and online, as the BBC moves closer to a genre-focused commissioning model rather than a silo approach. He will oversee the existing slate of comedies and take the lead in developing new shows with “exciting, diverse comedy writers and performers”.

For the last five years, Sussman has been a commissioning editor, working on bringing shows such as Bad Education, Cuckoo, Rev, Not Going Out and Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe to BBC channels.

He has also written for BBC comedies such as Monkey Dust and The Peter Serfinowicz Show, and produced for the likes of Rough Cut Television, Objective Productions and Silver River.

“Deservedly, Chris has a great reputation in the industry, based on his knowledge and passion for comedy, plus his incredibly trusted editorial eye,” said Freeland. “I am really excited to get the chance to work with him, standing up for comedy at the BBC and beyond.”

BBC controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen said he was “gutted to lose him from commissioning as his finger is very much on the comedy pulse”, but added “his is a terrific opportunity at a dynamic time for the powerhouse of BBC In-house comedy as it transitions to the new BBC Studios world”.