BBC strengthens drama production team

MUMBAI: BBC has announced that BBC Drama Production has made changes to build on the success of an increasing number of new commissions, re-commissions, the opening of a new hub in Manchester led by Phil Collinson, and a major expansion for the Writers Academy programme.

BBC Drama Production has seen a boom in work over the past 12 months, with series such as Five Days and The Curse Of Comedy, Cranford and The Passion, Oliver Twist and Lark Rise alongside its regular returning slate including EastEnders, Waking The Dead.

Its next major series House Of Saddam is due for transmission on 30 July on BBC Two. Drama Production currently operates from major bases in London and Elstree, Birmingham and Bristol and has recently added Manchester.

Vision Productions head Peter Salmon said, "The brilliant recent performance of BBC Drama Production is one of the big success stories of in-house programme-making.

"To cope with the pressures of their growing business, I have asked Nicolas Brown to lead the senior team as Director, Drama Production, and set out their strategy for the next few years, including growing the slate of titles, driving production modernisation and building commercial revenue.

"He will sit on the board of Vision Productions to make sure drama gets the credit and profile it needs to continue to deliver strongly. He leads an outstanding top team."

As part of the changes, John Yorke becomes controller, Drama Production and New Talent. While remaining editorially responsible for the Continuing Drama Series, all currently enjoying ratings and award success, he will also spearhead a four-fold expansion in activity for writer, producer, director and script editor training.

John will oversee an expansion of Writers Academy to the Nations and Regions and by drawing in the BBC Writersroom, lead a much more co-ordinated approach to training.

Kate Rowlands (Creative Director, New Writing) will work alongside John to ensure that writers' training is linked up across the whole of the UK.

Kate Harwood, who has been behind such successes as Cranford, Oliver Twist and The Passion, will take on responsibility for the department's single films, and becomes Controller, Series and Serials, BBC Drama Production.

She is editorially responsible for series, serials and singles across the whole of Drama Production. Kate's team are currently working on some of the highlights of the BBC One Autumn schedule, including new productions of Survivors, Little Dorrit and Tess of the D'Urbevilles, as well as the return of Silent Witness and Lark Rise To Candleford which returns in Winter 2009.

Kate, John and Phil Collinson, who have just started work leading the Manchester hub of Drama Production, will now report managerially to Nicolas Brown in his role as Director, Drama Production - who has responsibility for the delivery of the creative, production and financial strategy across the whole department - and sit on the Drama Production Board.

Salmon said,"These changes have become urgent at a time when the ambitions of in-house drama have resulted in its most successful period for years.

"Editorially, the department is at the top of its game, enjoying a growing slate of ambitious productions, BBC One's Criminal Justice being just the latest. All this increases our need to plan long term and develop and manage more strategically.

"The expansion of the hugely influential Writers Academy spearheaded by John and the creation of a new production centre in Manchester led by Phil, will help ensure that we build on our recent creative successes and get the best value for money from all in-house drama production."

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