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BBC Studios Productions CEO Ralph Lee to Exit

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Ralph Lee, BBC Studios Productions’ CEO, will be leaving the BBC’s commercial arm in April after almost six years to pursue a new challenge outside the organization. 

Since being appointed director of content in 2018, “Lee has guided BBC Studios Productions to unrivaled creative recognition – winning 111 awards and 400 nominations in the ’22/’23 financial year alone – and becoming the most awarded production group at the BAFTA and RTS Awards,” BBC Studios said on Thursday.

BBC Studios has initiated a search for Lee’s successor.

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“Ralph’s leadership has been a game-changer for our production business, taking BBC Studios to creative and award-winning heights in every genre, both domestically and internationally,” said BBC Studios CEO Tom Fussell. “His calm stewardship through and out of the COVID pandemic was invaluable, and he’s attracted outstanding talent like Kate Ward, Rich Knight and Cecilia Persson to our organization, whilst overseeing global expansion and growth among our production units, labels and invested indies.”

Lee said: “As hard as it is to leave such an inspiring business and colleagues who are pioneers in their respective creative and craft fields, I feel now is the right time to explore other opportunities.”

The former Channel 4 deputy chief creative officer has led the production business’ output, with a diverse portfolio including the likes of Strictly Come Dancing, Happy Valley season 3, EastEnders, Doctor Who, Prehistoric Planet, Good Omens, The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World, Inside Our Autistic Minds, Planet Earth III, The Coronation of King Charles III, Silent Witness, and Black Ops. He has also been in charge of original podcast series, such as Believe in Magic.

The single biggest supplier of content to the BBC, BBC Studios Productions has also seen its third-party commissions grow, “now serving a sweep of global customers including Apple TV+, Amazon, Netflix, Channel 4, UKTV, Discovery and Disney+,” the company said.

In 2022, he was made CEO of BBC Studios Productions when the company created a single content unit for its scripted, factual, global entertainment and kids & family productions, talent relationships and content investment. The move saw him assume oversight of BBC Studios’ production labels and invested indies, including House Productions, Lookout Point, Clerkenwell, Voltage TV, Sid Gentle Films and Firebird Pictures, as well as BBC Studios’ international production operations in the U.S., France, India, Australia, and the Nordics.

Lee’s tenure has also seen the introduction of culture and leadership initiative The Pledge across all BBC Studios productions, empowering senior leaders to take responsibility for behavior on their sets and to provide clarity and support its teams – whether on or off-screen. And in 2020 Lee also announced the creation of an “Inclusion Rider,” committing BBC Studios Productions to a minimum target of 20 percent of its teams on all new BBC and third-party U.K. commissions coming from a Black, Asian, minority ethnic background, having a lived experience of a disability, or being from a low-income background. 

Ralph Lee, courtesy of BBC Studios

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