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C4 alum Lee named BBCS content boss

BBC Studios (BBCS) has appointed former Channel 4 deputy chief creative officer Ralph Lee as its director of content.

Ralph Lee

Lee, who left C4 at the end of 2017, will take up the newly created role in October and will report to BBCS CEO Tim Davie.

He had been seen as favourite to take over Jay Hunt’s responsibilities as chief creative officer at Channel 4 when she left to join Apple, but surprise candidate Ian Katz ended up landing the role.

Lee served as interim chief creative officer at C4 when Hunt left in September 2017 and continued in the position until Katz’s arrival in January this year.

At BBCS, Lee will have overall control of creative strategy for productions in the UK and will take overall responsibility for production management. He will also sit on BBCS’ executive committee.

BBCS’s genre MDs for factual, scripted, factual entertainment and events, and entertainment and music will report to Lee.

The new director of content will also work alongside Anna Mallett, MD of production, who will have overall accountability for BBC Studios Production’s operations and P&L (profit and loss), as well as international production and formats.

The appointment follows BBCS rejigging its management structure last month, which saw a new remit for chief creative officer Mark Linsey and the recruitment two senior executives.

Lee has 25 years’ experience in UK television, having spent the past 15 years in network commissioning roles, principally at C4, and the previous decade in a range of factual production roles.

During his time as C4’s head of factual between 2010 to 2014, Lee ran a commissioning team whose successes included The Secret Life of Four Year Olds, Gogglebox, First Dates and Educating Yorkshire.

He started his television career as a freelance researcher in 1993 before joining BBC Documentaries in 1997 as an assistant producer, becoming a director. Credits from this period include Simpsons Night, Monty Python Night and Decisive Moments. He later returned to freelance production, before joining C4 in 2002.

“With depth and richness across multiple genres, BBC Studios already has fantastic creative credentials and I am looking forward to working with everyone there to realise our future ambitions and take our output from strength to strength,” said Lee.

Davie added: “His passion for programmes that are intelligent, unexpected and entertaining is plain to see – and he brings a proven ability to understand what audiences want and to partner with creatives to deliver it.”

BBCS’s production division reported a small profit last month in its first year of trading, which came before it merged with fellow commercial arm BBC Worldwide under the BBC Studios title.

The enlarged group is behind more than 2,000 hours of programming, including Blue Planet II, and has secured a raft of third-party commissions such as Stargazing Live 2 for ABC in Australia.

The company also holds a number of stakes in UK firms, including The Durrells prodco Sid Gentle Films and full ownership of UK-based Lookout Point, in which it first invested four years ago.



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