Top Gear is making a number of key production personnel hires in preparation for the show’s move to Bristol in May and work beginning on Series 33.
Long-running executive producer Clare Pizey will now become Top Gear’s editorial director, a role that will see her assume an overview of both the main show, as well as the brand’s increased digital content productions. Her previous co-executive producer Alex Renton will now become Top Gear’s sole executive producer. Renton has worked on the programme since 2008.
Helena Berglund is joining BBC Studios Factual Entertainment Productions Bristol as the programme’s new production executive from her head of production role at True To Nature, where she was instrumental in winning business from a broad slate of clients including Sky, Netflix, PBS, ZDFE, Sky Kids and the BBC.
Berglund will lead production operations on Top Gear, from idea to distribution, developing the Top Gear production management team in Bristol and having overall responsibility for delivering the series’ UK and international shoots She will initially focus on the successful transition of the flagship production from London to its new home in the new BBC Studios Bristol headquarters.
Top Gear is also welcoming Chris Payne to its team in April as development producer. He will work alongside Renton and Pizey developing Top Gear’s big challenge films and Christmas Specials. Payne was previously a development executive and producer at RDF and North One Television working on a broad slate of popular factual formats and shows including Guy Martin Vs The Robot Car (Channel 4), The Gadget Show, Gadget Man (Channel 5) and Crash Course (ITV).
Finally, Hamish Summers recently joined Top Gear as series producer. Summers initially joined Discovery Channel as a producer of adventure programming, before working on shows such Masterchef, The Oscars, Sarah Beeny’s Double Your House and The One Show. For the last five years, he has series-produced BBC Studios DIY SOS: the Big Build from Bristol, securing guest visits from the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex for the Manchester Veterans and Grenfell Tower episodes, resulting in his team winning a RTS West, RTS National, and BAFTA awards.
Top Gear joins the BBC Studios Factual Entertainment and Events team that make Gardeners World, DIY SOS, Countryfile and Antiques Road show in the new BBC Studios Bristol HQ which will also be home to the Natural History Unit.
Clare Pizey, editorial director for Top Gear commented: “There’s no one better placed to steer Top Gear into the future than Alex – he has worked on the show for years alongside every single presenter. His vision, tenacity and ambition for the show know no boundaries and the future looks very bright with him overseeing the show. Chris joining the show is a real coup and the wide creative experience he brings from the motoring and gadget world will only help take and create ideas like the Top Gear Tribute to Eddie Kidd and Car Bungee to the next level. Hamish arrived in January and was straight on a plane for a huge shoot in Miami and hasn’t stopped since.”
Katie Brewer, director of production, BBC Studios Factual Entertainment & Events says: “I couldn’t be more delighted that Helena is joining our team. Last year highlighted what I have always known, that having outstanding production management is key to the success of a production and we are lucky to have her join our flagship production – Top Gear. I look forward to working with her and the wider team in Bristol as we grow the Factual Entertainment base.”
Top Gear’s last series (S31) averaged 5.5m viewers and a 27% share for BBC One across its five-episode run – which marked the second-highest average share in the show’s history. The series was one of the five most watched unscripted titles on BBC One in 2021 amongst young audiences (16-34s).
Series 32 of Top Gear will debut later this year on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
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