BBC’s Aaqil Ahmed exits, Mark Hedgecoe upped

Aaqil Ahmed is to leave his post at BBC Studios, the BBC’s television production division, as head of religion and ethics after nearly 20 years with the UK pubcaster. Ahmed’s decision to ...
November 11, 2016

Aaqil Ahmed is to leave his post at BBC Studios, the BBC’s television production division, as head of religion and ethics after nearly 20 years with the UK pubcaster.

Ahmed’s decision to exit the corporation comes as his production team will be integrated into BBC Studios Factual Scotland arm, which has seen BBC Studios’ acting head of arts Mark Hedgecoe (pictured, right) appointed to of the helm the Glasgow-based shop.

The move is slated to bolster opportunity for “cross-genre collaboration and simplify existing management structure.” Tommy Nagra, head of channel development and partnerships, will handle the Scottish production unit’s day-to-day operations and reports directly into Hedgecoe.

Ahmed (left) began his career at BBC Birmingham in 1992 working across a variety of capacities before being elevated to deputy editor of documentaries, religion and ethics in 2001. He would depart the BBC in 2003 to become Channel 4′s commissioning editor for religion and head of multicultural programming before returning to the BBC in 2009 in his current role. He oversaw such programs as Songs of PraiseEaster From King’sAt the Foot of the Cross, and Easter Sunday Worship.

“The BBC has broadcast some outstanding religious and ethics programming under Aaqil and we are grateful to him for the contribution he has made over the last seven years, both in production and commissioning,” said BBC Studios director Mark Linsey in a statement.

As head of Factual Scotland, Hedgecoe will assume a broader non-editorial role covering scripted and factual projects for the corporation’s Scotland base, while also liaising with the BBC Scotland management team and serving as a point of contact for other stakeholders in Scotland.

He reports directly to Lisa Opie, head of BBC Studios Factual, effective immediately.

BBC Studios Factual Scotland is focused on developing specialist factual and broader factual content across the genres of art, history, daytime, documentary, travel, factual drama and magazine series. The studio’s credits include The Marvellous World of Roald Dahl, This Farming Life, The Secret Life Of Sue Townsend, Hairy Bikers: The Pubs That Made Britain, The Silk Road and Scotland’s War At Sea.

“[Hedgecoe] is an exceptional program-maker and an energetic leader who lives and breathes factual content,” added Opie. “He will help grow our cross-genre offering in Factual Scotland, encouraging creative collaboration whilst protecting our unique specialisms.”

BBC’s Factual Scotland unit serves as one of six production entities within BBC Studios Factual, alongside the Natural History Unit, Popular Factual, Science, Documentaries and Topical, and Live.

BBC Studios announced its restructuring plans in October, slashing 300 jobs and opening its commissions to external producers, as the BBC moves to 100% competition in its television programming to ensure it can compete in the future.

Created in April, BBC Studios houses the majority of the pubcaster’s in-house production capabilities and will be spun off into a wholly owned commercial subsidy next April, subject to regulatory approval by governing body BBC Trust.

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.