BBC Studios Natural History Unit has appointed Jess Colman and Laura Harris as joint Heads of Development reporting into the new Head of Natural History Unit, Jonny Keeling.

Colman and Harris will be tasked with generating and winning business across all platforms as well as scouting and developing new on and off-screen talent.

Promoted from her current role as Development Executive for the Natural History Unit, Colman has successfully led UK and SVOD projects, including BBC’s forthcoming landmark Asia and other major global landmarks, the BBC’s environmental series, Our Changing Planet, Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins and the award-winning The Year Earth Changed for AppleTV+.

Previously, Colman was Head of Development for Bristol-based indie, True to Nature and Daytime Development Executive for BBC Studios. In production, she has series produced and produced a range of factual programmes, including BAFTA award-winning Coast, Big Blue UK, Gordon Ramsey’s F-Word, and Channel 4’s impactful environmental campaign, Jamie’s Fish Fight.

Harris will be returning to BBC Studios Natural History Unit after two years as Head of Development at Freeborne Media and Seadog TV and has seen commissioning successes with Great National Parks and Oceans for Netflix and My Family and the Galapagos for Channel 4. Whilst at NHU, she developed Endangered for Discovery Channel, the NHU’s first non-BBC Commission.

Harris has 15 years’ experience producing and directing television for the global market across natural history, science, history, obs doc and adventure genres including Secret Life of Dogs (ITV), Bear Grylls Ultimate Survivor (Discovery Channel), Richard Hammond’s Jungle Quest (Sky1) and Man & Beast with Martin Clunes (ITV). 

The current Head of Development Gavin Boyland will be moving into a Series Producer position within the NHU leading an ambitious landmark series.

Jonny Keeling, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit said: Innovation and creativity are at the heart of the Natural History Unit – to have both Jess and Laura combining their skills and experience to lead the development team will ensure we continue to deliver compelling wildlife content of the highest quality, telling original stories with emotional impact.

Jess Colman, new Head of Development for BBC Studios Natural History Unit said: “It’s brilliant to join forces with Laura at a time of exciting growth for the Natural History Unit. It’s never been so important to engage a wide audience in the many challenges facing the natural world. It is a constant joy to work together with the world-class programme makers of the NHU.”

Laura Harris, new Head of Development for BBC Studios Natural History Unit said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the award-winning BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit and to build on its creative success alongside Jess. I’m looking forward to working with the team to develop high quality, ambitious content that will delight audiences and strengthen the NHU’s global reputation.” 


Jon Creamer

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