BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the U.K. public broadcaster BBC, said on Tuesday that it has named Richard Knight director of audio, BBC Studios Productions, starting in January. Reporting to Ralph Lee, the CEO of BBC Studios Productions, he will join the company amid continued growth in podcasting.
BBC Studios said the move comes as it looks to grow its audio unit “to take advantage of new creative opportunities in the U.K. and globally.” As part of that, it confirmed on Tuesday a previously outlined plan to move selected factual, entertainment and drama audio content from the BBC’s in-house production team to BBC Studios as of April.
“The model was developed to ensure the BBC maximizes the opportunities opened up by the growing global market for podcasts, strengthening the BBC’s public service output and keeping talented people at the BBC,” it said. “It places programs and teams where they can best thrive creatively within the BBC, allowing the BBC to grow global audiences and revenues to bring more investment back into the BBC to benefit all audiences.”
Given the BBC’s role as the largest distributor of British programs, “the move will leverage BBC Studios’ distribution expertise and global network to build the reach and revenue of British audio content internationally, supporting the whole audio industry in the U.K.,” it added. “BBC Studios will become the home to timeless network radio content that is made for audiences in the U.K., but also has global appeal, including a range of factual, entertainment and conversation programs (e.g Desert Island Discs, In Our Time, This Cultural Life and The Life Scientific), as well as drama (recent productions include: Fukushima, Harland and Faith, Hope and Glory) and documentaries (The Gift, The Boy in the Woods, Breaking Mississippi).”
BBC Studios also touted its other “already distinctive audio program slate with favorites like I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, Just A Minute, The News Quiz, The Infinite Monkey Cage and Just One Thing, as well as recent narrative series such as Believe in Magic, Vishal, Mother, Neighbour, Russian Spy with Rosamund Pike and History’s Secret Heroes with Helena Bonham-Carter, and TV companions including The Planet Earth Podcast and The Strictly Come Dancing Podcast.”
But it also highlighted that “the vast majority of BBC Radio’s in-house speech content will continue to be produced as it is now, safeguarding the BBC’s unique, rich offer to listeners and retaining expertise and scale.” It will will focus on radio and podcast output “built around journalism, topicality and live broadcast.”
As director of audio for BBC Studios Productions, Knight will work closely with Louise La Grange, senior vp – audio distribution to grow the BBC Studios audio production and distribution business. Helen Pendlebury, director of digital and business development, will continue to lead the commercial strategy, deal-making and business development for audio production.
“Our plan ensures that our unique, rich audio offer to audiences will continue to thrive in the future, and we will reach wider audiences, open up more creative opportunities and bring back more investment into the BBC,” said Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s chief content officer. “BBC Studios has a proven track record in producing and distributing distinctive British content, and with the fast-growing global podcast market, it’s an exciting time to be working together to expand its audio business.”
Lee added: “We are looking forward to building on our audio leadership and creative capabilities to grow the reach of British audio content in the U.K. and around the globe. Richard brings a rare combination of skills and experience. He is a talented producer, executive producer and leader, with a real depth of editorial experience and a long record of creative success.”
Knight said about his appointment: “I have loved getting to know the truly amazing and creative people at Wondery. But I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity by BBC Studios to lead so many talented producers into a new phase for public service audio.”
During Knight’s time leading the Wondery content team in the U.K., the podcast studio launched the likes of Terribly Famous, Hooked on Freddie and Ghost Story. Prior to Amazon, he worked as factual commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4. As executive producer in current affairs at the BBC he also worked on the likes of The Inquiry, Tunnel 29, Fatwa, Islamic State’s Most Wanted, The Public Philosopher and My Indian Life.