BBC to overhaul in-house production

The revamp, spearheaded by BBC director of television Danny Cohen (pictured), will see the establishment of a centralized unit to focus on unscripted ideas across factual, factual entertainment and formats, and entertainment.
September 19, 2013

UK pubcaster the BBC is to revamping the way it runs in-house production, including setting up a centralized unit to focus on unscripted ideas across factual, factual entertainment and formats, and entertainment.

To be led by a high-profile creative, the non-fiction focused ‘Development Central’ division will look at unscripted ideas across the board. The initiative forms part of a new system of ‘Creative Labels’ built around a single “creative entrepreneur,” who will be charged with coming up with innovative and big ideas.

Working with a small, hand-picked team, they will be encouraged to focus on delivering “ground-breaking, world-class content.”

‘Labels’ will be led by creative, commercial, slot or talent strategic needs, the BBC added, explaining in a statement: “They will be fluid and encouraged to roam across commissioning boundaries, operating for two years with the option of renewal.”

The aim will be to reward stand-out creativity at a senior level, free from administrative or people management responsibilities. The initial ‘Creative Labels’ will be announced over the coming months.

BBC director of television Danny Cohen (pictured above) said: “At the heart of this idea is a desire to change the relationship between creativity and status and seniority in BBC Television. Up until now, in the BBC you have had to become a manager to gain status and seniority. The ‘Creative Labels’ aim to change that and give creativity a higher profile in BBC Television.”

He added that, as the content production business becomes increasingly global, it is no longer realistic for one leader to manage the broader scope.

As such, and following Pat Younge’s recent resignation, the role of chief creative officer will now be replaced with two leadership roles: controller of factual and daytime (which currently exists and is held by Natalie Humphreys), and controller of fiction and entertainment.

Cohen said: “These new plans, including the launch of our ‘Creative Labels’ and a dedicated investment pot of £2 million to super-charge development, will raise the profile and importance of creativity and development within BBC Television. I’m confident it will lead to even more outstanding and high-quality content over the coming years.” 

The BBC’s ‘Innovation Unit,’ ‘Format Lab’ and ‘iCreate’ will all come under the ‘Development Central’ umbrella.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.