BBC names Clare Sillery, Jack Bootle as Tom McDonald replacements

UK pubcaster the BBC has tapped Clare Sillery and Jack Bootle to replace Tom McDonald in his role as head of natural history and specialist factual. Sillery (pictured left) will take on an ...
January 14, 2020

UK pubcaster the BBC has tapped Clare Sillery and Jack Bootle to replace Tom McDonald in his role as head of natural history and specialist factual.

Sillery (pictured left) will take on an expanded role to include leadership of commissioning for history and religion. She has been head of documentaries commissioning since December 2016.

Meanwhile, Bootle (right) has been named head of commissioning for science and natural history. He has been a commissioning editor in the specialist factual department since 2018.

They both assume these new roles immediately.

Remaining in their current roles are Simon Young, lead commissioning editor for history, and Daisy Scalchi, commissioning editor with responsibility as the point of contact for religion, who will report to Sillery; Abigail Priddle, commissioning editor, working across history and religion as well as continuing to commission science and natural history titles; and Tom Coveney, commissioning editor for science, who will report to Bootle.

Realscreen previously announced McDonald’s appointment as BBC director of factual.

McDonald served as head of natural history and specialist factual commissioning at BBC Content since 2016. The executive was responsible for all natural history, science, history and religion and ethics programming across BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4 and iPlayer.

His commissioning credits include series, single films, live events and formats, including the blue chip docuseries Blue Planet II and feature documentary Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein.

“From the highly acclaimed Seven Worlds, One Planet and Brian Cox’s The Planets to Untouchable: the Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein and Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, specialist factual at the BBC is in exceptional form and with these new appointments, I am confident that we can continue to build on this success,” said Alison Kirkham, BBC’s controller of factual commissioning, in a statement “Both Clare and Jack are highly skilled and well-respected creatives and I look forward to working with them and further enhancing our reputation for delivering world-class content.”

“I hugely admire many of the recent commissions from history and religion from returning series like A House Through Time to the fascinating A Dangerous Dynasty; the House of Assad. My new role will enable us to explore ideas together across an incredibly broad spectrum of genre and form. On a subject like crime, for example, we can range from an observational documentary series like Murder 24/7 (working title) on BBC2 to an authored history series like The Yorkshire Ripper Files for BBC4,” added Sillery.

Said Bootle: “It’s an honor to take over the reins of such a fantastic department. I’m hugely excited about working with the world’s very best science and natural history talent — both on and off-screen — to create ambitious new programs for all our audiences.”

(With files from Jillian Morgan)

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.