Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Emma Swain confirmed as BBC's Controller Knowledge Commissioning

Emma Swain has today been confirmed as the BBC's new Controller of Knowledge Commissioning, responsible for devising and leading the Knowledge strategy across the breadth of factual programming, including arts, music, history, natural history, business, science, religion, consumer journalism and contemporary factual.

Emma has been the acting Controller of Knowledge Commissioning since February 2011. For the two years before this, Emma was the Head of Knowledge TV Commissioning, overseeing the eight-strong team that commissions 1,600 hours of factual TV content from Vision Productions and the independent sector, developing supply strategies for both, overseeing the operation of the WOCC and managing the Discovery Joint Venture.

In her new role, Emma will retain responsibility for leading the commissioning teams as well as taking a strategic overview of Knowledge commissioning across all four channels.

George Entwistle, Director Vision, says: "Emma is one of the foremost creative leaders in factual television in the UK, passionate about programming, courageous in the way she embraces new ideas and respected by in-house producers and independents alike. Emma has held a number of senior posts in Knowledge Commissioning with distinction over recent years, including Commissioning Editor for Specialist Factual, Head of Knowledge Multimedia Commissioning and Head of Knowledge TV Commissioning. As acting controller, Emma has led the Knowledge commissioning team with great energy and skill and I'm delighted to confirm her permanently in the role."

Says Emma Swain: "The BBC produces the best factual programmes in the world and it's a great privilege to be given this role, with responsibility for maintaining the high standards and quality of Knowledge output that our viewers have come to expect. It's a tribute to our suppliers and to the great team of factual commissioners that Knowledge programming has both increased its reach and audience appreciation across all four channels in the last year, and I look forward to continuing to lead this great momentum."

Prior to her role as Head of Knowledge TV Commissioning, Emma was the Head of In-House Knowledge Commissioning, which involved leading the in-house commissioning team. During this time she also commissioned Documentaries and Natural History.

Before that Emma was acting Controller of Daytime and Early Peak and before that she was Head of Multimedia Knowledge Commissioning, and Deputy Controller, Knowledge.

She also spent a brief period in 2007 as acting Controller, BBC Three.

Her TV career includes years spent as a freelance director before moving to the BBC Science department – initially on a two week development contract in 1996.

Shortly after joining the BBC she was appointed Deputy Commissioner and then Commissioner for Specialist Factual in 2002, commissioning Science, History, Business, Religion and Natural History for BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four from in-house and independent suppliers.

Over the years, Emma has been responsible for commissioning a range of highly successful programmes including Don't Tell The Bride; Kill It Cook It Eat It; Big Cat Live; Jimmy's Farming Heroes; Lost Land Of The Jaguar; Comic Relief Does Kilimanjaro; Life, the sequel to Planet Earth; and Wounded.

Knowledge Online Product

Emma takes over the role recently vacated by George Entwistle, who was appointed Director of Vision. Emma's former role, as Head of Knowledge TV Commissioning, will not be filled. Instead, some of the responsibilities George held have been redistributed.

Because Knowledge's online commissioning has been impacted by the reorganisation of BBC Online, Saul Nassé has been asked to take on responsibility for Knowledge's online commissioning. This reflects BBC Learning's responsibility for the new integrated Knowledge & Learning online product. Saul Nassé is therefore confirmed as taking over from George Entwistle as Portfolio Head for the Knowledge & Learning Online Product – alongside his continuing role as Controller of Learning.

In these roles Saul will now report into Roly Keating, Director of Archive and Vision's online lead. Saul will work closely with Emma and her team of commissioners to ensure that linear commissions from the Learning slate continue to reflect both Knowledge and Learning strategies.

As previously announced, Mark Linsey, Controller of Entertainment Commissioning, has become the Vision Board lead for Editorial Standards, which was also a role held by George Entwistle when he was Controller of Knowledge Commissioning.


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