BBC ramps up factual commissioning teams with hires

Darlow Smithson's Rachel Morgan and UKTV's Catherine Catton (pictured) are among the new faces that will be behind the BBC's factual commissions.
June 9, 2015

Former Darlow Smithson Productions exec Rachel Morgan and former UKTV commissioner Catherine Catton (pictured) have joined the BBC’s factual teams.

The appointments are part of a larger restructuring effort in the factual commissioning department that were announced by the British broadcaster in January.

Morgan will be joining the BBC’s specialist factual team as its newest commissioning editor. The Darlow Smithson Productions director of programs has been responsible for exec producing C4′s live coverage of King Richard III’s reburial and BBC One’s living history series 24 Hours In The Past.

“Her passion and talent lies in delivering intelligent, entertaining mass appeal shows including BAFTA and RTS award-winning series such as The Choir, Tribal Wives and Coal House for BBC Two, and The Hotel for Channel 4,” current factual programming controller Emma Swain said of Morgan in an internal email sent on June 8, adding that the ex-’Panorama’ producer will begin her new role later this month.

Also joining the specialist factual team will be Diene Petterle. The award-winning series creator comes to the BBC with an extensive list of series editor and series producer credits, including CNN’s Finding Jesus, BBC and PBS’s How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson, and How to Kill a Human Being with Michael Portillo for BBC Two strand ‘Horizon’.  She will join the pubcaster in July.

Meanwhile, Catherine Catton has been named as commissioning exec producer in the formats and features team. The current senior commissioning editor at UKTV was behind the launch of two separate channels at the station before becoming channel head for UKTV Style and UKTV Gardens. In her new post beginning August, Catton will report to department head Alison Kirkham.

Finally, joining the natural history and specialist factual team – effective immediately – will be Lucinda Axelsson as exec producer and Craig Hunter as commissioning editor.

Axelsson has previously worked in natural history production as an exec delivering programs such as the award-winning Meerkat Manor with Oxford Scientific Films, while commissioning such shows as Pets: Wild At Heart (BBC One), and Alaska: Earth’s Frozen Kingdom (BBC Two).

As part of Hunter’s new role, he will be the face of factual commissioning for indie companies in Scotland. The former commissioning exec for BBC Scotland’s list of accolades include The Truth About Your Teeth for BBC One, as well as What’s The Right Diet for You? and An Hour To Save Your Life for BBC Two.

The BBC will be announcing further appointments to the documentaries team and the new temporary head of features and formats in the coming weeks.

As announced in May, Patrick Holland will replace Sam Bickley as the head of documentary commissioning, effective July 6.

Holland will join the factual commissioning team, which is currently run by Emma Swain, who will take a year-long break to lead the pubcaster’s “future commissioning” team.

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.