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McDonald swaps to BBC Studios

Tom McDonald, who currently leads natural history and specialist factual commissioning for the BBC, is shifting to a director of factual role at the pubcaster’s production and distribution arm.

McDonald will report to BBC Studios director of content Ralph Lee and be responsible for the overall factual strategy and leadership of creative teams at the commercial operation.

BBC Studios Factual production has four business units – The Natural History Unit, The Science Unit, The Documentary Unit (including Arts and History) and Factual Salford.

He replaces Lisa Opie who was promoted to MD of UK production back in April.

McDonald is currently responsible for all natural history, science, history, religion and ethics programming across BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 and the pubcaster’s iPlayer VoD service.

His commissioning credits include Blue Planet II, The Planets, Drowning in Plastic, A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad and Thatcher: A Very British Revolution.

He originally joined the BBC as a commissioning editor in documentaries, science and natural history in 2012 and before that worked in the independent sector as an executive producer on titles including 24 Hours in A&E and Who Do You Think You Are?

Lee said: “Tom is a passionate and exceptional programme maker, who’s overseen some of the most successful factual content of recent times. BBC Studios is renowned for the quality and range of its factual programmes and I’m delighted he will be bringing his immense strategic and creative talent to this important growth area for BBC Studios.”

McDonald added: “During my time in commissioning, the broadcasting landscape has changed at an extraordinary pace. So now feels like the perfect moment to take on a new challenge, building on BBC Studios Production’s global reputation and helping to shape their factual output for the years to come.”

McDonald will remain in BBC content until the end of the year and will take up his new role in early 2020.

The appointment follows the arrival of Priscilla Parish from ITV Studios-owned World Productions as head of drama earlier this month as Lee continues to reshape the team, following his own arrival having previously been deputy creative officer at Channel 4.


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