People/Biz

BBC arts director Jonty Claypole, group commercial director Bal Samra step down

BBC director of arts Jonty Claypole is stepping down from the British pubcaster in April 2021. The news comes as Bal Samra, the BBC’s group commercial director, announced he would also ...
December 7, 2020

BBC director of arts Jonty Claypole is stepping down from the British pubcaster in April 2021.

The news comes as Bal Samra, the BBC’s group commercial director, announced he would also be departing in 2021 after more than 30 years at the company.

Samra, previously managing director of BBC Television, has driven the delivery of a number of services including BBC iPlayer and BritBox. He additionally wrote the blueprint to create BBC Studios Production, and will lead some commercial projects at BBC Studios before his departure, the pubcaster stated.

Claypole (pictured), meanwhile, was appointed to his current role in 2014 with responsibility for creating a new arts strategy while leading the television arts commissioning team and working with colleagues across the BBC, including radio and digital.

Over the past seven years, he has transformed the BBC’s arts portfolio by bringing together its functions and services as a single department and brand, BBC Arts, and creating BBC Arts Online.

Under Claypole’s leadership, BBC Arts has produced programming such as Civilisations, the BBC4 monologues including Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle and the ongoing ‘Culture in Quarantine’ initiative. He also served as an executive producer or commissioning editor on series such as Mary Beard’s Shock of the Nude, BBC2′s Inside Culture and Museums in Quarantine.

Prior to his current role, Claypole spent 10 years as a program-maker with the BBC’s arts department, where he produced and launched strands such as ‘What Do Artists Do All Day?’ and ‘Handmade in Britain.’

He will continue to be chair of the board of trustees at Home, Manchester, as well as patron of Manchester’s Young Identity. His first book, Words Fail Us — a cultural history of speech disorders and passionate argument for diversity in speech and communication — will be published in the new year.

Claypole said in a statement: “It has been an honor to serve as the BBC’s Director of Arts over the last seven years. In that time, I have striven to make the BBC a place where artists, film-makers and emerging voices can create their best work and communicate with millions in the UK and around the world. Today, at the end of 2020, I see a cultural landscape completely transformed by a global pandemic — and, like many, I have started to imagine a different future. After leading the BBC’s ‘Culture in Quarantine’ initiative to its first anniversary in March 2021, I will step aside to support the arts in new ways and let others bring a different perspective to BBC Arts. I will miss the BBC greatly — because of what it stands for and does, and the people who make that happen — and I will continue to champion the irreplaceable role it plays in the arts and culture of this country wherever I am.”

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is a special reports editor at realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.

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