More than 20 of the UK’s leading commissioners will be speaking at this year’s Factual Festival, including the heads of factual from both the BBC and Channel 4.

Across Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd November at BAFTA, 50 top level speakers will include the UK’s key commissioners for Documentary, Factual Entertainment, Specialist Factual and International Factual.

Channel 4’s head of Factual Danny Horan will give the low-down on the new regime at the broadcaster in an interview with Sanjay Singhal, chief executive of Voltage TV.

There will be close-ups with top factual commissioners, including Richard Watsham, director of Commissioning, UKTV, which is increasing its spend on factual and  Heather Jones, senior vice president, Content and Creative EMEA, A+E Networks who will outline opportunities for producers.

BBC controller of Factual Commissioning Alison Kirkham will be on stage with ceo of Wonderhood Studios David Abraham and ceo of Barcroft Media Sam Barcroft to explore the future of programme funding in the short and long term, in a session chaired by Pact council chair Sara Geater.

In association with the Grierson Trust, the Festival will interrogate The Promise of the Regions panel with panellists Kelly Webb-Lamb, deputy director of Programmes from Channel 4, Nick Andrews, head of commissioning, BBC Cymru, Andrew Sheldon, creative director and Founder, True North and John Willis, Creative Director, Tinopolis Group.

YouTube head of Originals for EMEA Luke Hyams will join Johnny Webb, ceo of Sundog Pictures to hear the story behind the creation of on of the platform’s first original commissions.

Commissioners speaking also include David Brindley head of Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment commissioning, BBC, Clare Laycock, head of Brands, Discovery, Clare Sillery head of Documentary commissioning, BBC Jo Clinton-Davis controller, Factual, ITV, Guy Davies commissioning editor, Factual, Channel 5, Alf Lawrie head of Factual Entertainment, Channel 4, Tom McDonald head of Specialist Factual and Natural History commissioning, BBC, Adrian Padmore and Lucy Willis, commissioning editor and commissioning editor, Factual at Channel 5,  Shaminder Nahal and Alisa Pomery, commissioning editor, Arts, Topical and History and commissioning editor, Documentaries for Channel 4 and Jules Oldroyd, svp Global Programming &Acquisitions, National Geographic Partners.
There will also be the opportunity to book one to one meetings with commissioners from the BBC, Channel 4, A+E, UKTV, Nat Geo, Discovery, ITV, TCB Media and Channel 5.

Elsewhere in the Festival programme, Filmmaker Stacey Dooley will give a keynote interview, chaired by True Vision co-founder Brian Woods.

The SVOD Landscape panel will bring delegates up to speed with SVOD demand for factual. Kim Shillinglaw, director of Factual for Endemol Shine UK, has been leading the company’s SVOD business development and Paul Corney, SVP Global Digital and Co-productions, All3Media International is the distributor’s ‘go to’ exec for SVOD deals. While Spring Films md Richard Melman works closely with Netflix.

Commissioners, distributors and indies with experience of growing their business in the US and internationally will reveal opportunities that lie beyond the UK. 

Maartje Horchner, evp Content, All3Media International chairs a panel looking at where to find investment beyond the UK with panelists Lilla Hurst, joint managing director, Drive, Mark Reynolds, Unscripted Portfolio director, BBC Studio and Paul Heaney, ceo, TCB Media Rights.

Dan Korn, vp Programming, A+E Networks will be on stage with three leading indies who have built business on US commissions: Danny Fenton, chief executive officer, Zig Zag Productions, Dimitri Doganis, founder, Raw TV and Justine Kershaw, co-founder and creative director, Blink.

The Festival website gives details of sessions and speakers across the two days. To find out more and to book tickets, go to

Pippa Considine

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