BBC Studios Productions has announced Jonny Keeling as the next head of the Natural History Unit.

Keeling’s credits as Producer, Series Producer & Executive Producer include some of the unit’s most successful landmark series including- Planet EarthPlanet Earth II, and Seven Worlds, One Planet. As former head of NHU Children’s, he executive produced Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and Deadly Pole to Pole and developed & delivered projects across a wide range of genres including animation, comedy, and drama.

Over a career spanning 25 years, Keeling and his teams have won multiple accolades (including BAFTA, Emmy, RTS awards), and produced content spanning all formats, from live broadcasts to online games, and from short form video to 3D giant screen film.

He takes over from outgoing head Julian Hector who leaves after a five-year stint that saw the Bristol-based production house produce shows including Blue Planet II, Dynasties, and the forthcoming The Green Planet for the BBC as well as their first original commissions for international broadcasters.

Reporting to Tom McDonald, BBC Studios’ Managing Director of Factual, Jonny will be responsible for all of the NHU’s creative & commercial activity and will join Tom’s leadership team.

The NHU has recently won multiple new commissions with both the BBC including Frozen Planet II & Chris & Megs’ Wild Summer and with new buyers including Apple’s The Year Earth Changed, National Geographic’s Ocean Xplorers, Endangered for Discovery, and The Americas for NBCU.

Keeling will further develop the NHU’s presence in North America via NHU LA and will play a leading role in the NHU’s move to its new Bristol premises.

Tom McDonald, Managing Director of Factual, BBC Studios Productions, says: “Jonny is one of the best blue chip Natural History executives in the industry – and has a depth of experience not just in landmark programming but in a huge variety of tones & forms. As well as being passionate about the quality of the NHU’s programming, he’s a brilliant leader: ambitious and inspiring, and I cannot wait to work with him to continue the NHU’s incredible growth. 

Jonny Keeling commented: “I feel honoured to be taking on the role of Head of the Natural History Unit. The unit plays an increasingly urgent and vital role in telling impactful stories from the natural world during a time in which our planet faces unprecedented challenges. My ambition is simple – to produce high-quality content that’s original, ambitious and compelling and to ensure that the NHU remains the most respected maker of wildlife programming in the world”. 

Keeling is currently series producer on Planet Earth III and will assume his new role in December this year when Hector departs.

In the past four years the unit’s output has received over 200 awards, including 4 Emmys and 11 BAFTA TV awards.

Jon Creamer

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