BBC’s head of specialist factual to depart

Martin Davidson (pictured, left) is slated to exit his post as head of specialist factual commissioning at the BBC in mid-August, with Tom McDonald (right) adding Davidson's responsibilities to his remit.
June 14, 2016

Martin Davidson (pictured, left) is slated to exit his post as head of specialist factual at the BBC in pursuit of new opportunities “in and beyond television.”

Tom McDonald (right) will add Davidson’s responsibilities to his current portfolio and become head of natural history and specialist factual commissioning for television when the latter departs the pubcaster in mid-August.

Davidson has been in his current role since March 2015, having previously served as head of commissioning for history and business. His commissioning credits include the Mary Beard-hosted Pompeii: Life Before Death, factual drama Wipers Times, 37 Days, Story of the Jews and The Eichmann Show.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for the enormous contribution he has made to the BBC and to wish him all the very best in his new venture,” said Alison Kirkham, acting controller of BBC factual commissioning in an email statement shared with realscreen. “All of those who have worked with Martin over the years will miss his expertise, his commitment and above all his enthusiasm for the programs and people he has looked after.”

McDonald, meanwhile, will now be responsible for commissioning all content across natural history, science, history, religion and business. He will also be tasked with delivering a more cohesive strategic vision across BBC’s portfolio of channels.

Since boarding BBC factual commissioning in 2012 and rising to head of natural history and specialist factual formats commissioning three years later, McDonald has overseen a raft of successful titles including BAFTA-awarded Big Blue Live, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, How to Stay Young, Trust Me I’m A Doctor, Inside the Factory and Countdown to Life. He has also overseen such natural history programs as Life Story, The Hunt and the forthcoming Planet Earth II.

“Tom has led the Natural History & Specialist Factual Formats department with exceptional creative flair and ambition, landing an extraordinary number of successful new brands,” Kirkham said. “I am thrilled he is now able to expand his remit allowing him to oversee the full range of specialist factual output. I have no doubt he will continue to inspire and innovate in this broader role.”

“I’m really excited to start working with my brilliant commissioning team and all of our world class suppliers, presenters, experts and producers, to find the next generation of new ideas as well as nurturing our most loved brands and titles,” added McDonald.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.