CEO Ralph Lee is moving on from BBC Studios

“It’s been an absolute privilege to lead BBC Studios Productions for six fulfilling years, I’d like to thank all the fantastic production teams across BBC Studios for making this such an enriching and rewarding experience.“
— Ralph Lee

Ralph Lee, BBC Studios Productions’ CEO, has announced that he will be leaving the BBC’s commercial arm in April after almost six years with the business to pursue a new challenge outside the organisation.

Since being appointed Director of Content in 2018, Lee has guided BBC Studios Productions to unrivalled 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.

The former Channel 4 Deputy Chief Creative Officer has presided over the production business’s continued world-class output, with a diverse portfolio of original, returning and continuing multi-genre titles including Strictly Come Dancing, Happy Valley 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 – plus original podcast series such as Vishal and Believe in Magic.

As well as remaining the single biggest supplier of content to the BBC, BBC Studios Productions has also seen its third-party commissions grow to almost 40% since Lee took the reins, now serving a sweep of global customers including Apple TV+, Amazon, Netflix, Channel 4, UKTV, Discovery and Disney +

In 2022, he was made CEO of BBC Studios Productions when the company created a single content powerhouse for its Scripted, Factual, Global Entertainment and Kids & Family productions, talent relationships and content investment – strengthening its creative and commercial offering for commissioners and buyers around the world. 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 US, France, India, Australia, and the Nordics.

His tenure has also seen the introduction of an innovative, industry-leading culture and leadership initiative called The Pledge across all BBC Studios productions, in response to wider challenges within the industry, that empowers senior leaders to take responsibility for behaviour 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% of its teams on all new BBC and third-party UK commissions coming from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic background, having a lived experience of a disability, or being from a low-income background.

Tom Fussell, CEO BBC Studios, says: “Ralph’s leadership has been a gamechanger for our production business, taking BBC Studios to creative and award-winning heights in every genre, both domestically and internationally. 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 organisation, whilst overseeing global expansion and growth among our production units, labels and invested indies. However, it’s the deeply personal approach and investment Ralph’s brought to our programme-making culture that will best sum up his legacy here. I want to thank him enormously for his contributions and wish him the best of luck in his next adventure.”

Ralph Lee commented: “It’s been an absolute privilege to lead BBC Studios Productions for six fulfilling years however, after an incredibly busy but hugely successful 2023, I started to think about what was next for me professionally. 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. I’d like to thank all the fantastic production teams across BBC Studios for making this such an enriching and rewarding experience.“

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


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