Shake-up in factual as four jobs close

Emma Swain Emma Swain said she wants a team with fewer leaders

Top jobs in factual commissioning will be closed as part of changes to the department which has resulted in programmes such as The Ottomans and Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain.

As part of the restructure, four jobs will be closed and three new head of commissioning roles will be created.

The affected jobs belong to Aaqil Ahmed, Sam Bickley, Martin Davidson and Clive Edwards.

They may or may not decide to apply for three new posts to be created under the proposals.

These are: head of science, business, history and religion (specialist factual); head of specialist features, natural history; and head of documentaries, current affairs and BBC Three.

Currently, Ahmed - the man behind The Ottomans - splits his time between commissioning and his role as head of religion and ethics. Bickley is BBC Three's head of commissioning for features and documentaries, Davidson commissions for history and business, while Edwards does the same for current affairs.

Emma Swain, the controller of factual commissioning, said the changes were necessary because of savings targets in television and the fact that there will be fewer hours commissioned overall, especially on BBC Three.

In an email to staff, the controller added: 'I want to shape a factual commissioning team with fewer leaders, clearer distinction between roles, greater alignment with channels and external stakeholders and greater flexibility.'

Six total heads

An additional three senior jobs - head of formats, features and events; head of arts; and head of music - will bring the total heads in factual commissioning to six. It's currently eight and a half.

Alison Kirkham, currently head of commissioning for factual features and formats for BBC One and BBC Two, becomes the overall head of formats, features and events. Mark Bell will remain head of arts, while Jan Younghusband will continue as head of music.

There are also plans to close three-and-a-half commissioning editor roles in factual; there are currently 11 commissioning editors.

The number of executive producers in the unit, however, will go from two to five.

Swain told staff that these are 'significant changes' to the department. 'A consultation process has begun - everyone affected has been spoken to and we will of course be supporting them throughout the process.'


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