Saturday 12 Jul 2014
Vanessa Whitburn joined the BBC in 1974 as a studio manager, working in London as a sound technician for the BBC World Service and network radio programmes. While there, she directed several plays on the London fringe circuit in her spare time.
As assistant producer of The Archers, 1977 to 1980, she was responsible for several important casting decisions – notably, selecting the actor Trevor Harrison for the part of likeable rogue Eddie Grundy.
From 1980 to 1985, Vanessa was Senior Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in the Midlands, directing and producing several Classic Serials for BBC Radio 4 and new plays by top dramatists such as Anthony Minghella, Caryl Phillips and Michelene Wandor.
Vanessa also worked on BBC television programmes, ranging from drama The Onedin Line to arts documentaries.
She was producer of Channel 4's flagship soap opera Brookside from 1988 to 1990, and returned to the BBC as a freelance, where she directed a BBC Two documentary called Moving Home about the move of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet to Birmingham.
Vanessa was appointed Editor of The Archers in June 1991, and has since introduced a number of storylines that have captured the headlines.
Under her editorship, the programme – which celebrates its 60th anniversary on 1 January 2011 – has gained awards from, among others, Mental Health in the Media, the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC), Mind Champion of the Year and a Sony Gold.
In December 1994, Vanessa took responsibility for running the radio drama department in Birmingham, alongside The Archers.
From 2004 to 2010, Vanessa was also Executive Producer for Silver Street, the soap for the digital radio station BBC Asian Network, also produced at The Mailbox in Birmingham.
She enjoys the theatre, ballet, opera, music, travelling when time allows and "good food in good company".
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