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BBC ups pair to portfolio editors

UK pubcaster the BBC has promoted Syeda Irtizaali and Jo Smith to the newly created roles of portfolio editors for BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4.

Syeda Irtizaali

The move comes as chief content officer Charlotte Moore introduces a new structure for BBC Television aimed at delivering more value to audiences and focusing on high-impact content.

Irtizaali has been appointed as portfolio editor for BBC1, with Smith taking on the same role for BBC2 and BBC4. They will both report to Dan McGolphin, director of BBC iPlayer and channels, when they take up their new positions next month.

Irtizaali and Smith will help shape the editorial strategy and priorities for the channels to ensure they are maintained as distinctive brands within the portfolio. This will involve collaborating with genre directors to commission high-quality programming whilst supporting the channels’ schedules.

Irtizaali joined the BBC in 2020 as commissioning editor for entertainment, where she has overseen brands such as Top Gear and MasterChef, and commissioned shows including Jack Whitehall’s Sporting Nation, Bamous and Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer.

Prior to working at the BBC, she was a commissioning editor at Channel 4 responsible for commissioning hits such as Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Million Pound Drop, The Big Narstie Show and The Last Leg.

Jo Smith

Smith has been executive editor for BBC3 since 2019, where she has been a key part of the team implementing the channel’s iPlayer-first commissioning strategy, while building strong collaborative relationships across the whole organisation to help drive demand for BBC3 content.

Alongside this, she has executive produced shows including Hot Property and Fight For First: Excel eSports, since joining the BBC in 2018 as an exec producer. Before that, Smith worked on many popular factual and factual entertainment titles including 24 Hours in A&E, One Born Every Minute and Embarrassing Bodies.

The reorganisation will bring a new approach to commissioning, designed to reflect changing audience behaviour, fuel the growth of BBC iPlayer and strengthen its content portfolio, according to the pubcaster.

In related news, BBC2 has commissioned a documentary exploring the conservatorship singer Britney Spears has been held under for the past 13 years.

Following The New York Times’ film Framing Britney Spears, which went global last month, the new doc follows UK journalist Mobeen Azhar as he seeks to uncover the truth behind the singer’s conservatorship.

Azhar set out on his journey last autumn, travelling from Spears’ hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana to Los Angeles. Along the way he attended a court hearing, finding himself in the midst of the ongoing battle between the singer’s conservatorship team and the passionate fans behind the #FreeBritney movement.

Britney (working title) will air on BBC2 later this spring. It is produced by Forest and distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights. Jeremy Lee exec produces.

Azhar said: “I went to LA in search of the truth of how Britney Spears, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, ended up in a conservatorship. I found myself in a world of lawyers, superfans and paparazzi and spent time with many of the people who’ve had a front row seat in Britney’s life. This film taps into the energy of the #FreeBritney movement and questions the industry, fandom and the laws that facilitate conservatorships.”

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