BBCS restructures US and UK production teams

Shake-up to align scripted and unscripted entertainment teams with Valerie Bruce to exit

By John Elmes 10 Jul 2024

BBCS restructures US and UK production teams
Ghosts; Cr: BBC/Monumental Pictures/Guido Mandozzi

BBC Studios has enacted a shake-up of its US and UK scripted and unscripted entertainment production teams to bring the transatlantic divisions closer together. 

The move will see the departure of longstanding exec Valerie Bruce, general manager of BBCS LA Productions, at the end of the summer. 

Under the changes, the US scripted team - headed by Angie Stephenson and Rachel Bendavid - will now report to BBCS scripted president Mark Linsey, who is also based in LA. The unit will continue to work closely with production partners in the UK and BBCS’ North American content sales team, led by Lawrence Szabo, executive vice-president. 

BBCS LA veteran Stephenson and ABC Entertainment drama commissioning chief Bendavid were appointed in February to be a bridgehead between the US and UK scripted output, helping steer the successful adaptations of hit comedy titles Ghosts for CBS and Fox’s Welcome to Flatch (This Country) and Call Me Kat (Miranda). 

On the non-fiction side, executive vice-president of entertainment and music Ryan O’Dowd will lead unscripted entertainment, reporting into London-based Matt Forde, BBCS Productions’ managing director of global entertainment. 

This move will closer align UK and LA entertainment development, placing the strand at the centre of BBCS’ 12-strong global network of offices. The change is designed to place a stronger focus on BBCS’ formats stable which includes Magnum’s ITV hit The 1% Club. 

This is the second significant restructure for BBCS productions’ global entertainment division this week. Unrelated to the US-UK changes, KFTV sister site Broadcast revealed BBCS is to bring its entertainment, music, factual entertainment and events production divisions together. 

Bruce will exit BBCS after a 13-year tenure having held numerous executive leadership roles since joining as senior vice-president, business affairs for BBC America in 2011. In 2016, she joined the LA production team as SVP, commercial director, before being upped to EVP.  

She took overall responsibilities for LA Productions in 2019, before promotion to her most recent role. 

Forde said: “In a fast moving and constantly changing business in both the UK and US, it makes sense to bring our unscripted entertainment and scripted teams in Los Angeles closer to our UK teams to maximise the opportunities we’ve identified between both markets.  

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Valerie who has driven significant commercial growth across all of our production activities in LA, including hit shows such as ABC/Disney’s Dancing with the Stars, Wrestlers for Netflix, the Life Below Zero franchise for NatGeo, The Weakest Link on NBC, Ghosts on CBS and most recently The 1% Club on Amazon Prime/Fox..”  

Linsey added: “Announcing a scripted production base in LA that is fully integrated with our production portfolio in London will hugely benefit our business.  

“As well as developing their own slate of ideas, Rachel and Angie will work closely with our UK producers and the content sales team to find the best possible route for their content into LA and connect them with the unique talent across our drama and comedy units, labels and creative partners.”

This story originally appeared on our sister site Broadcast

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