Scotland’s top women broadcasters
VALENTINE will be the driving force behind The Nine, the flagship nightly news programme which will launch on the new BBC Scotland channel in February. The BBC says her vision will steer the programme to have its own distinctive style and tone, “embracing a Scottish and global news agenda with the priorities of the Scottish audience always at its core”. Valentine has a substantial CV. She has worked as the BBC’s executive editor of Question Time, and was also director of current affairs at Mentorn Media, the company which makes the programme for the BBC. “I used to run Question Time. I still like the radio best,” she writes on her Twitter bio. As head of news for 5Live, Valentine led her team to a Radio Academy Gold Award for its news coverage of the 2010 election.
GLASGOW’S fast-growing media scene received a considerable boost in late October when Channel 4’s chief executive, Alex Mahon, revealed that the city would host one of the broadcaster’s two new Creative Hubs. It will have tens of millions to spend on new programming for the channel. She told The Herald earlier this month that the base, which will open late next year, would be for the long term. Mahon, as it turns out, knows Scotland very well, having grown up in Edinburgh. “From growing up in Edinburgh and spending a lot of time here, I know what a rich cultural heritage Scotland has got,” she says. Having previously led global producers, Shine Group, she became the first female Chief Executive of a major UK broadcaster when C4 appointed her in October 2017.
FROM a standing start just 10 years ago, Nicole Kleeman has grown her Govan-based company, Firecrest Films, to the point where Broadcast magazine has described it as “the fastest-growing TV production company outside London.” Kleeman’s executive credits include programmes for Panorama and Dispatches, as well as Lifers Behind Bars and the popular series, Supershoppers. To quote Firecrest’s website: “We make high-profile documentaries, series and features for major broadcasters, including the BBC and Channel 4. Our output has had a huge impact, winning multiple awards, record ratings, dominating the news agenda, prompting resignations, arrests, questions in Parliament and more than 40 front-page news stories.” Kleeman began her TV career at London Weekend Television before she joined the BBC, where she worked as a producer on Panorama, Newsnight, and The Culture Show. C4 took a minority stake in Firecrest in January 2017.
BBC Scotland’s commissioning executive (Digital, Social & Youth) has long acknowledged her passion for developing innovative content for younger audiences and nurturing the latest generation of Scottish filmmakers. Her emphasis is on finding new talent and fresh voices in comedy, drama and documentaries. Thornton is one of the creators of BBC The Social, an award-winning digital team based at BBC Scotland that develops creative new talent and concentrates on ground-breaking short-form films for digital and social platforms. She was previously head of BBC Bitesize in Scotland, commissioning and producing games and programmes for teens and kids to help them learn. Her credits have ranged from Don’t Ask Fern to Short Stuff.
Brown is the head of drama at STV Productions, a post she took up four years ago. She recently completed production on The Victim, a fourpart drama for BBC1, set in Scotland and starring Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah. It is STV’s first drama commission for the BBC, and is due to be transmitted early next year. Her next production will be an adaptation of Emma Healey’s bestselling 2015 novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, also for the BBC, which will start filming in 2019. Brown is a native of Glasgow and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before working first in factual television and at BBC Drama in London. Her BBC credits include Lark Rise To Candleford, Oliver Twist, and The Interceptor.
Donalda MacKinnon, Director of BBC Scotland since December 2016, is responsible for 13 BBC centres across the country, with more than 1000 staff involved in the production of both English and Gaelic language programmes and content for radio, television and digital platforms.
She is overseeing the launch of the new BBC Scotland television channel next year. Last July her report, Making the BBC a Great Workplace for Women, was published; its 30-plus recommendations were endorsed by the BBC Board. After graduating from Edinburgh University, she began teaching before joining the Corporation in 1987. Her earliest jobs were as a television researcher/assistant producer. She held senior positions in content production and direction, including that of head of programmes and services, before being appointed director.