She will lead the BBC’s arts and classical music output on TV, “driving audience reach and impact across the country and maintaining the BBC’s position as the UK’s biggest creator, investor and broadcaster of original Arts and Classical Music content.”
Whilst her remit focuses on TV, iPlayer and Arts Digital, she’ll be collaborating with radio and BBC Sounds to make the most of the BBC’s arts and classical content for all audiences.
The position was created to see Arts and Classical Music TV commissioning fully integrated into BBC Content, as part of a new commissioning “powerhouse” under the leadership of Patrick Holland (Director of Factual, Arts & Classical Music). The restructuring of TV Arts and Music commissioning aims to bring “specialist depth, modern storytelling and enhanced ambition to the genres and bring new opportunities for collaboration and programming of scale to help grow BBC iPlayer, build the BBC’s vital role in British Arts and Classical Music sectors, and deliver outstanding content for all licence-fee payers.”
After winning the William Hardcastle Award for Journalism, Klein began her professional career as a presenter on radio and TV with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She then returned to the UK to work in production on Radio 4 programmes, including Start The Week and Loose Ends, before moving to television as a director and producer. Her production credits range from live events, such as BBC Proms, to producing drama documentaries on Mozart and Beethoven and making documentary films on Ted Hughes, Martin Amis, Steve Reich and John Adams.
Klein began presenting in 2005, when she was named as one of The Guardian’s 25 Up-And-Coming Cultural Figures, and has since become a familiar face and voice on BBC TV, hosting BBC Proms, The Culture Show and BBC Young Musician Of The Year. She has written and presented several critically acclaimed BBC television series, ranging from the 18th century to the present day, including Tunes For Tyrants (on the abuse of music by 20th century dictators); a history of British light entertainment, with Frank Skinner; the legacy of the musical West Side Story; arts and politics in the 19th century; Evita: The Making Of A Superstar (the real life of Eva Peron); and a history of black classical composers with Sir Lenny Henry. On radio, she is the co-presenter of BBC Radio 3’s most listened-to show, Essential Classics, as well as a regular guest presenter of Radio 4’s Saturday Live.
From October 2021, Klein will move aside from presenting to focus on her new senior leadership role.
Suzy Klein says: “I could not be more thrilled to be taking on this exciting new role, flying the flag for the best of arts, culture and classical music at the BBC.
“I joined the Corporation almost 25 years ago, first as an arts and music researcher, then assistant producer, director and series producer, eventually going on to present some of the programmes I most cherish. If my appointment represents something, it is a long-term commitment to the transformative power, inspiration and joy that the arts bring. That’s something I can’t wait to share with my brilliant commissioning team, as we work together to create the most compelling, unmissable programmes for audiences across the UK.”
Patrick Holland, Director BBC Factual, Arts & Classical Music, says: “I am so excited to be announcing Suzy Klein as our new head of Arts and Classical Music. Suzy combines deep subject knowledge with a proselytising passion for great arts and classical music broadcasting. Her vision for the future development of the genres on television and iPlayer made her the stand-out candidate for this most important of roles.
“She is an unrivalled communicator with brilliant relationships across the Arts and Classical Music sectors, and has a strong track record in production. She will be leading an exceptional team of commissioners in the genre, and we can’t wait for her to start.”
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