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BBC’s Stephenson to join Bad Robot

JJ Abrams’ US prodco Bad Robot has confirmed that BBC drama boss Ben Stephenson is leaving his post at the UK pubcaster to join the company in LA.

Ben Stephenson

Ben Stephenson

Stephenson will oversee all aspects of development and production for Bad Robot’s TV department, having been in charge of the Beeb’s drama unit since 2008.

During that time the exec has overseen multiple award-winning series such as Sherlock, Luther, The Fall, Happy Valley, Call the Midwife and Peaky Blinders.

His move Stateside has been expected since early February, when it emerged that Stephenson was in talks with Abrams’ production outfit.

Stephenson has worked closely with US broadcasters and prodcos on the likes of The Honourable Woman, a coproduction between the BBC and SundanceTV, as well as forthcoming epic War and Peace, which is being produced with The Weinstein Company.

He joined the BBC’s drama department in 2005 and went on to become head of drama commissioning in 2007, when he worked alongside Jane Tranter, whom he eventually replaced as head of the department.

His arrival at Bad Robot has sparked a reshuffle, with Kathy Lingg transitioning to the role of co-executive producer on Bad Robot projects Westworld, Roadies, 11/22/63 and Person of Interest.

Athena Wickham, meanwhile, will exit the company at the end of March to run the TV division of Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Kilter Films, which is coproducing Person of Interest and Westworld with Bad Robot.

“Ben’s love of great TV, his passion and respect for writers, and his remarkable taste are all in evidence through his groundbreaking work at the BBC. We can’t wait to work with Ben to tell engaging and impactful stories,” said Abrams, who directed the next instalment in the Star Wars franchise, due out later this year.

“Bad Robot already has an extraordinary reputation for great TV and I’m hugely looking forward to working with some of the world’s best writers to help take the company into its next phase,” Stephenson said, adding that he was “ready for a new challenge.”

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