BBC rejigs factual unit under McDonald


UK pubcaster the BBC has restructured its specialist factual and natural history units team, handing execs new roles and creating new positions.

Attenborough and the Giant Sea DragonTom McDonald will remain at the helm of the natural history and specialist factual departments, but now as overall strategy for television and digital.

His post covers natural history, science, religion and ethics on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four.

Last year, he commissioned big-ticket factual programmes such as Seven Worlds and Attenborough and the Giant Sea Dragon (pictured).

McDonald will now work closely with new commissioning editor for science and factual, Scotland, Craig Hunter, and commissioning editor for religion and ethics Fatima Salaria.

Hunter was previously factual commissioning editor for Scotland, ordering series such as Big Blue Live and Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor, while Salaria was assistant commissioner at the BBC Content Commissioner Development Program, working on religious-themed content such as Carols from King’s and My Mediterranean with Adrian Chiles.

They will now take the editorial and digital lead for their respective roles.

“These two new appointments demonstrate our commitment to genre specialism and to simplifying processes within the BBC to the benefit of our suppliers and our audience,” said Alison Kirkham, BBC controller of factual commissioning.

The BBC plans to hire a commissioning editor for history and two commissioning editors that will work across factual genres.

Kirkham took on her role as permanent factual commissioning chief in September last year. She had held the role in an acting capacity since May 2015 when Emma Swain took on a role assessing future commissioning processes.

Swain left the BBC a month before Kirkham took her new post, in August 2016.