New head of BBC Studios‘ Documentary Unit, Alan Holland, has announced new hires and commissions for the unit.

Holland has announced new executive producer hires. Amanda Lyon working across specialist factual series for a range of domestic and international broadcasters. Sam Emmery, specialising in documentaries and Anna Sadowy  working across documentaries.

They join his newly appointed Creative Directors – Kirsty Cunningham (Documentary & Crime) and Abigail Priddle (Specialist Factual) both started with the division earlier this year; and were joined by Ben Mitchell as Creative Director of Popular Factual.

Holland has also announced three new commissions for the BBC, one fronted by Emmerdale star and Strictly Come Dancing winner Kelvin Fletcher, a series telling the story of struggle, triumph and resistance brought to life through the lens of the hip-hop art form with hip hop icon and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D and an insight into the autistic mindby award-winning naturalist Chris Packham.

Inside the Autistic Mind (w/t), Working with autistic people who are each at a key point in their lives, wildlife presenter, Chris Packham, will take a deep dive into their minds, immersing himself in their everyday experiences, observing and learning about the unique ways these individuals sense and interact with the world. He’ll also introduce them to people who may be able to answer their questions about their particular experience of autism. Then, working with leading CGI, VFX and animation facilities, they’ll use their shared expertise to bring these personal interior worlds to life.

Kelvin’s Big Farming Adventure follows every action-packed step as the soap actor and his family as they leave the city behind and make their first rookie attempts to start a new life in the country and start a new farming business. Filmed over the summer of 2021 against the backdrop of the stunning Peak District landscape, the series sees Fletcher get to grips with the notoriously tough world of livestock markets, sheep wrangling and the maintenance of a huge estate with endless outbuildings and an unmanageable cast of animals.

The commissions add to a production slate that includes a boxset series about Brazilian President Jai Bolsonaro; a David Dimbleby fronted three parter about the key turning points in the BBC’s history as part of the broadcaster’s centenary programming and UKTV’s Scouting For Toys which follows the world’s largest toy auctioneers.

Holland’s division is also in production on a number of yet to be announced titles for the Channel 4, Channel 5 and a number of international streamers and platforms.

Alan Holland says: “It’s a really exciting time to be working in Factual production so it’s thrilling to see our slate grow at such a pace, despite the challenges of the pandemic. Bringing Ben in as a creative director and Amanda, Anna, Ben as executive producers into the unit is already having a transformative effect on development & in production.”

Holland’s documentary division is one of three genre units overseen by MD of Factual, Tom McDonald, alongside the Natural History Unit and the Science Unit. McDonald commented: “Alan has really hit the ground running these past six months, winning multiple new projects, and ensuring exceptional delivery of the pipeline he inherited. The Documentary Unit is becoming a magnet for the best creative talent in Factual across the UK – this feels like just the beginning for Alan and team’s growth.”


Jon Creamer

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