The BBC has announced the next intake of Assistant Commissioners who will be joining BBC commissioning teams following the announcement of the fourth phase of the Assistant Commissioner programme last November.

The seven successful candidates will be joining a year-long placement with development opportunities, at the heart of the BBC’s commissioning teams across the UK.

Five of the new Assistant Commissioners will be based in the Nations and Regions, four based in Factual and one in Children’s & Education.

The Assistant Commissioner roles based in Wales and Scotland and the Assistant Commissioner, Documentaries role based in Northern Ireland will report jointly to both the Nations and Network Heads of Commissioning. The Assistant Commissioner, Children’s role based in Northern Ireland will report to the Head of BBC Children’s Commissioning & Acquisitions 0-6.

In addition, two new Assistant Commissioners will be based in London, one in Unscripted and one will be in Scripted, as part of the Elevate pipeline which aims to develop and progress deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent talent.

The seven new Assistant Commissioners are:

  • Gillian Burke – Children’s 0-12 Animated Content, Northern Ireland
  • Mark Harrison – Current Affairs, Midlands and North of England
  • Sidra Khan –Factual Entertainment & Events, Scotland
  • Raphaëlle O’Loan –Documentaries, Northern Ireland
  • Denise Mather – Specialist Factual, Wales
  • Caroline O’Neill – Unscripted, London
  • Rhianna Adams-Christie – Scripted, London

Dawn Beresford, Director of Talent, Commissioning says: ‘We’re excited to welcome the seven new Assistant Commissioners to our commissioning teams. The recruitment process has demonstrated the strength of talent in the Nations and Regions and from deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent pools and I look forward to seeing this new intake continue to flourish in their careers.”

Nichola Garde, Creative Diversity Lead, Disability says: “It has been a fantastic experience meeting so many talented deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent candidates.  We are excited that this will support more opportunities at senior level and looking forward to continuing to work towards strengthening that pipeline.”

Now in its fourth round, the BBC’s Assistant Commissioner programme’s previous participants include Muslim Alim, BBC Commissioning Editor, Daytime & Entertainment; Kate Ansell, Commissioning Editor, Unscripted at Channel 5; Sreya Biswas, BBC Head of Commissioning, Natural History; Dwayne Eaton, Commissioning Executive, Entertainment at Sky; Nawfal Faizullah, BBC  Commissioning Editor Drama; Patrick McMahon, BBC Commissioning Editor Factual; Kalpna Patel-Knight, BBC Head of Commissioning, Entertainment; Fatima Salaria, Managing Director at Naked TV and Julie Shaw, BBC Commissioning Editor, Daytime.

Gillian Burke – Children’s Content Commissioning, Northern Ireland

Prior to joining the BBC, Gillian worked as a Line Producer for Sixteen South Studios on seasons 2-7 of PBS Kids’ hit show, Pinkalicious & Peterrific! Other credits include the Emmy nominated If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Amazon Prime’s The Bug Diaries.

Gillian says: “Creating content that is worthwhile and truly serves its audience is something I feel extremely passionate about and is at the core of what the BBC does. I am incredibly excited and humbled to be part of a world-class team of commissioners, all dedicated to the children and guardians who watch our shows. The stories we write are the stories they will take with them as they grow, and no one understands that more than the BBC Children’s & Education family.”

Mark Harrison – Current Affairs, Midlands and North of England

Mark is a BAFTA and RTS winning Executive Producer whose recent credits include Paramedics On Scene and Scotland, Slavery and Statues for the BBC and Rescue: Extreme Medics for Channel 4. He has experience working across Documentary, Current Affairs, Specialist Factual and Factual Entertainment genres on programmes such as  Dispatches, Panorama and Watchdog and started his career as a Production Trainee at the BBC.

Mark says: “I am so excited to get started finding and championing the next generation of brilliant ideas from filmmakers across the Midlands and North of England. I’ve seen first hand the transformative effect of investment from the BBC outside of London and I’m thrilled to have the chance to work in my hometown of Birmingham.”

Sidra Khan – Factual Entertainment & Events, Scotland

Sidra Khan is a television producer, director and development producer who has delivered some of the most popular, game changing TV content. She produced and directed the first series of the BAFTA Award-winning Wife Swap, Wife Swap USA, Faking It, Supernanny, Come Dine With Me, The Apprentice and was a producer on Back In Time for Birmingham. She has been a development producer for Wall to Wall, Betty TV and the BBC was appointed the first Head of Development at Firecrest Films.

A trained lawyer, Sidra was selected for the Breakthrough Leadership Scheme as one of 50 black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds leaders who will help shape and redefine future leadership in the TV industry.

After 20 years in London, she relocated to her native Glasgow where she is developing ideas and building strong regional diverse contacts and talent.

Sidra says: “I am proud to be joining the BBC and look forward to playing a part in the BBC’s commitment to bringing a wide range of outstanding storytelling to audiences.”

Raphaëlle O’Loan – Documentaries, Northern Ireland

Raphaëlle O’Loan is an RTS award nominated self-shooting Producer Director with a strong track record in making challenging observational, presenter led and retrospective documentaries from development to delivery. Her recent credits include Murder in Paradise, Ulster by the Sea and Heist: the Northern Bank Robbery.

Raphaëlle says: “Having spent my career so far working in programme making, I’m excited to become part of a team helping to shape the future landscape of unscripted TV.”

Denise Mather – Specialist Factual, Wales

Denise has been in the industry for over 20 years and have a passion for making great content and getting the best out of talent and teams. She has worked on a range of high profile network programming across numerous genres including live and events, factual entertainment, competition formats, consumer, crime, travel and fixed rig series. Most recently she was Series Producer on two series of All That Glitters: Britain’s Next Jewellery Star presented by Katherine Ryan.

Denise says: “After more than 20 years in the industry it’s going to be fascinating to move away from production and step ‘behind the curtain’ into the world of the commissioning. I’m thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to work for the BBC and am genuinely excited to play my part in creating exceptional content and nurturing talent.”

Caroline O’Neill – Unscripted, London

Caroline O’Neill is a Series Producer-Director and Executive Producer with over 20 years’ experience in the factual space. From Series Edit Producing The Rap Game to Exec Producing Jo & John Bishop: Life after Deaf, Caroline has had a meteoric editorial rise. Alongside her ‘day’ job Caroline is dedicated to making meaningful change in the industry. She co-runs the group, Deaf & Disabled People in TV, is a member of the Coalition for Change, a graduate of the 2020 Screenskills Series Producer Programme and this year was awarded the Pact Unsung Hero tribute.

Caroline says: “I am tremendously excited to be joining the BBC Factual commissioning team, and I cannot wait to offer up a fresh and diverse perspective whilst learning and growing from an extraordinary team of BBC commissioners.”

Rhianna Adams-Christie – Scripted, London

Rhianna joins the BBC from Amazon’s Audible as Producer and Development Executive in the scripted originals commissioning team. Most recently she has produced seven scripted audio dramas working with the likes of Hat Trick, Mercury Studios, Disney and Green Door productions. Her background includes both development and production working at the likes of Lime Pictures on Hollyoaks, Chapter One Pictures, Sister and Whisper Films.

Rhianna says: “I am beyond thrilled to be joining the BBC Drama team, a company I have long admired and ahead of the curve nurturing eclectic and diverse talent which is exciting. I hope my experience and perspective can positively contribute to the magnificent work being delivered by the BBC and I can’t wait to support the commissioning team in championing dynamic voices and stories.’’

Jon Creamer

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