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Rejigged Workerbee hires BBCS’s Ben Mitchell, gives Chappell, Murray new roles

Ben Mitchell (L) and Benjamin Hirsch

Banijay-owned Workerbee has expanded its senior team and restructured its business into two units as it continues to grow its client base in both the UK and US.

Ben Mitchell is joining the Manchester-based company as creative director from his role as creative director of popular factual at BBC Studios.

Creative director Michelle Chappell has been promoted to managing director, overseeing the business, while Rick Murray, MD and executive producer, has become CEO, charged with further growing the business both domestically and internationally.

Workerbee, part of Banijay UK, has also introduced two business divisions within the company focusing on films and formats.

The films unit will handle premium factual for the SVoD space, led by Workerbee director Benjamin Hirsch, who has helmed projects including Janet Jackson (Sky, Lifetime and A+E) and Bruno vs Tyson (Sky). He is currently working on an as-yet-unannounced feature film for a major SVoD service, Workerbee said.

The division will seek to partner high-profile directors and film makers to make premium documentary content for global audiences.

The formats division, meanwhile, will focus on factual entertainment and features following recent shows including The Bridge (Channel 4) and Idris Elba’s Fight School (BBC Two).

Holly Davies will join the company later this month as head of development in formats and will work with Mitchell, who joins the business in the new year, in growing the slate.

Davies has held a variety of senior development roles, leading teams, building slates, pitching and developing pilots at companies including Viacom Studios, Spun Gold, Boundless and Naked, where she led development on Snowflake Mountain for Netflix.

Prior to BBC Studios, Mitchell was director of programmes at Boundless, where he was responsible for shows including 60 Days on the Streets (Channel 4), Love in the Countryside (BBC2) and Grand Designs (Channel 4).

Before that, Mitchell was head of popular factual at Shine, another Banijay UK company, where his credits included The Island and Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls (Channel 4). Mitchell has also produced and directed other fact ent formats including The Hotel, Undercover Boss, Shipwrecked and Ladette to Lady.

Murray said: “Creating these two divisions within the company gives us focus and purpose as we continue to build the team.”

Chappell added: “We are passionate about working with the best producers and directors in the business and this new structure reflects our pursuit of quality in our programmes.”

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