Scot­land’s top women broad­cast­ers

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Feature - Compiled by Rus­sell Lead­bet­ter

Hay­ley Valen­tine

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.

Alex Ma­hon

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.

Ni­cole Klee­man

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.

Louise Thorn­ton

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.

Sarah Brown

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

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.

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