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Monday 28 Jul 2014

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BBC's Natural History Unit Head Neil Nightingale to return to programme making for the BBC

Neil Nightingale

After six years as Head of the BBC's Natural History Unit, Neil Nightingale is to stand down and return to programme making.

Neil's first project will be a six part BBC One landmark series, Africa – a definitive television series on the greatest wildlife continent on earth.

During his time as Head of the NHU its output has gone from strength to strength, including a diverse range of natural history programmes on television, radio, online and for the cinema.

The unit has constantly excelled and created a world-class reputation for ambitious and groundbreaking factual programmes that inform and entertain audiences.

Recent output from the Natural History Unit on television includes Life In Cold Blood, Planet Earth, the Saving Planet Earth season, Wild China, Big Cat Live, The Secret Life Of Elephants, Lost Land Of The Jaguar, Expedition Borneo, Springwatch, Autumnwatch, Galapagos and Natural World.

On radio, recent series include Nature, Living World, Soundscapes and a major live event, World On The Move.

Peter Salmon, Chief Creative Officer, BBC Vision, says: "Neil has made a huge contribution to the BBC’s Natural History Unit.

"His in-depth knowledge, passion and skill for programme making meant that he was a first-class head of the BBC's Natural History Unit.

"I wish him every success with his next move, to return to programme making. Thanks to Neil and his teams the NHU is at the top of its game and in great shape for the challenges that the future will bring."

Tom Archer, Controller, BBC Factual Production, BBC Vision, says: "I am thrilled that Neil will be staying within the BBC to resume his brilliant programme making career. He's been a superb head of the NHU and I am sure he will now make some world-class programmes across the BBC."

Neil Nightingale says: "I have enjoyed my time as Head of the NHU immensely. It has been a great privilege to lead the world's most innovative group of wildlife producers but now I feel is the right time to return to my first love, programme making. Africa is an ambitious project and I can't wait to get started on it."

An announcement about the new Head of the NHU will follow in due in course.

Notes to Editors

Neil Nightingale graduated with a first class degree in Zoology from Oxford University, Neil demonstrated an early passion for the natural world and the species that inhabit our planet.

After working as a freelance science journalist he joined the BBC in 1983 gaining experience as a researcher and assistant producer in wildlife, news, current affairs, regional programmes, science and education.

As a producer for the Natural History Unit, Neil developed a fresh new style for David Attenborough in his first undertaking, Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives.

His award-winning Portrait Of The Planet in 1990 was one of the first documentaries to take a global view of human impact on the planet.

In David Attenborough's The Private Life Of Plants he employed new technology to reveal plants as they had never been seen before, and Restless Year, a nostalgic time-lapse portrait of the Cotswolds, was the highlight of the NHU's first Natural History Night and one of the top five Christmas shows on the BBC that year.

In 1995 Neil took on the role of Editor for The Natural World. Under Neil's leadership, The Natural World's programmes won the top award at every major international wildlife film festival and won the Royal Television Society award for Best Factual Strand.

During the same period Neil was also the executive producer responsible for a broad range of programming including Wild Down Under, Congo, Wild Battlefields, Wild Africa and the BBC One Wildlife specials.

Wildlife specials, including Lion – Spy In The Den, introduced innovation in style with new technology such as the "bouldercam", employed to capture a fresh perspective and often surprising new animal behaviour.

Meanwhile the Wildlife specials, Grizzly and Gorilla, introduced strong human storylines and Tiger won another BAFTA for the unit. He was appointed Head of the Natural History Unit in 2003.

EF

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