BBC Studios Production Hires New Director of Factual


BBC Studios Production has named Tom McDonald its new director of factual.

Reporting to Director of Content Ralph Lee, McDonald will be responsible for the production house’s overall factual strategy, leading the creative teams and driving growth across the portfolio. McDonald will remain in BBC content until the end of the year and will take up his new role in early 2020.

Tom joins BBC Studios from BBC Content, where he has been head of natural-history and specialist factual commissioning since 2016. He is currently responsible for all natural-history, science, history and religion and ethics programming across BBC One, Two, Three, Four and iPlayer.

During his time leading the department, his team’s commissions have won multiple industry accolades including RTS, Grierson, Broadcast, Emmy and BAFTA awards for titles as diverse as Big Blue Live, Muslims Like Us, Planet Earth II and Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley.

Tom’s commissioning credits include global landmark series, single films, live events and formats, including Blue Planet II, The Planets, Drowning in Plastic, A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad, Thatcher: A Very British Revolution, The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs, and Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me. He also commissioned the feature documentaries Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of Harvey Weinstein and Peter Jackson’s WWI film They Shall Not Grow Old.

Tom joined the BBC as a commissioning editor in documentaries, science and natural history in 2012 and before then, he worked in the independent sector as an executive producer on various factual titles, including 24 Hours in A&E and Who Do You Think You Are?

Lee said: “Tom is a passionate and exceptional program maker, who’s overseen some of the most successful factual content of recent times. BBC Studios is renowned for the quality and range of its factual programs and I’m delighted he will be bringing his immense strategic and creative talent to this important growth area for BBC Studios.”

McDonald added: “I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with some of the very best directors, producers and indies—as well as amazing colleagues—over the last seven years. During my time in commissioning, the broadcasting landscape has changed at an extraordinary pace. So now feels like the perfect moment to take on a new challenge, building on BBC Studios Production’s global reputation and helping to shape their factual output for the years to come.”