North East 2023

Creative Cities Convention 2023 included BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore, Channel 5/Paramount supremo Ben Frow, Channel 4’s Head of Nations and Regions Sinéad Rocks and ITV’s Group Director of Diversity Ade Rawcliffe. Local heroes Scarlett Moffatt, Robson Green were joined by Dragon’s Den’s Sara Davies MBE and Hairy Bikers’ Si King.


Paul Baker

International Studio Development Advisor, FulwellCain Studios

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Adam Bouabda

Company Director and Exec Producer, Sea & Sky Pictures

Adam is a producer from Hartlepool,  in the North East of England. Scripted comedy has been his primary focus in television. He started with co-producing several Comedy Sparks for Channel 4, followed by sketches for satirical news outlet Newsthump, then a script commission with BBC Comedy. He went on to become the recipient of the inaugural BBC Comedy Regional Partnership, with Hat Trick Productions. The two companies are co-developing five sitcom ideas for BBC Comedy, with at least one guaranteed further development. 

Adam’s company ‘Sea & Sky Pictures’ produces short films, feature films and scripted comedy, as well as factual and factual entertainment.  In February 2023, they were selected to be supported by the BBC, as part of their Small Indie Fund.  Adam wants to create ideas with global appeal, but with a strong sense of place, ideally in the North East.

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Andy Brereton

Senior Commissioning Editor, Comedy, Channel 4

Before joining Channel 4, Andy was co-Managing Director of Shiny Button Productions. The company produced scripted comedy shows King Gary, Murder They Hope, Amazon comedy film “Your Xmas or Mine” and Channel 4’s The Curse.  Prior to that he was Head of Development at Tiger Aspect, creating the BAFTA winning Murder in Successville, Crackanory, Murder on the Blackpool Express and Drunk History.


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Magnus Brooke

Group Director of Strategy, Policy and Regulation, ITV

Magnus has responsibility for ITV’s strategy, policy and regulatory teams, which includes overseeing ITV's corporate strategy development and leading on interaction with UK and European regulators, government and parliamentary committees.  Magnus is a non-executive director of a number of ITV subsidiaries and JVs and from 2019-22 was a non-Executive director of ITN the news and TV programme producer.  From 2014-19 Magnus was Chairman of the Board of the Brussels based Association of Commercial Television in Europe which represents Europe’s commercial broadcasters to the EU institutions.

Prior to joining ITV he was Head of the BBC Director General’s Office for both Greg Dyke and Mark Thompson. He began his career as a lawyer specialising in regulatory and competition law at City of London law firm Ashursts, where he also trained.



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James Burstall

CEO Argonon 

Entrepreneur, producer and author James Burstall is the CEO of Argonon, one of the UK’s largest independent global production groups headquartered in London, Los Angeles, New York, Oklahoma, Glasgow and Liverpool. The group consists of nine production companies producing hundreds of hours of content annually across all genres for broadcasters, streamers and brands including The Masked Singer UK (ITV1), Hard Cell (Netflix), Worzel Gummidge (BBC One), Dispatches (Channel 4) and Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard (BBC One), and content for brands including McDonalds, Amazon and American Express. The group has won over 125 international awards including Emmys, BAFTAs and RTS Awards.  

Prior to Argonon, Burstall was CEO of Leopard Films, executive producing long-running series, formats and award-winning dramas for global broadcasters.James Burstall’s new leadership book, The Flexible Method, Prepare to Prosper in the Next Global Crisis is published in the UK in March and in the US in July. 

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Jo Clinton-Davis

Controller of Factual ITV

As ITV Factual Controller Jo's commissions include: BAFTA -winning Long Lost Family; Diana Our Mother; Queen's Green Planet; 56 & 63 Up; Crime & Punishment strand; Trevor McDonald's Mafia; Joanna Lumley's Silk Road; landmark singles e.g Kate Garraway Finding Derek; Kevin McDonald’s Story of Us. 

At the BBC, Jo was Head of Independent Commissioning & commissions included Masterchef & Hairy Bikers. Jo Directed & Produced BBC One's 7 part award winning documentary series 'Making Babies' & 'The Shop' about Selfridges, plus single docs for award winning strand 40 Minutes & Inside Story.  She cut her teeth on Newsnight, Crimewatch etc.


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Jason Cook

Writer, Comedian and Actor 

Jason is an award winning stand-up and writer. Since 2005 he has written many critically acclaimed stand-up shows, and has completed sell-out national and international tours, and has performed stand-up on television.

Since 2010 Jason has written and starred in two series of the award winning BBC2 sitcom Hebburn, as well as writing two feature length specials for GOLD, Murder on The Blackpool Express (which is the highest rating show in GOLD History!) and Death on The Tyne, the follow up. The third in the trilogy, Dial M for Middlesborough, aired in December 2019 and 2 series of Murder They Hope with more to come.

Jason also wrote and starred in his own Radio 4 series Jason Cook’s Happiness HQ. Aside from his own projects, Jason has written for Miranda, Mock The Week  and was the head writer on The Chris Ramsey Show. Oh, and he won Celebrity Mastermind… so he’s clever too!


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Sara Davies MBE

Founder & Creative Director, Crafter’s Companion

At the young age of just 21, Sara founded the global, multimillion pound business Crafter's Companion. The company’s first product was a ground-breaking tool that disrupted the craft market and it has continued to delight its highly-engaged customers with innovative designs ever since. 

Today, the international award-winning company sells art and crafts products across more than 40 countries and has offices in the UK and US. 

In April 2019, Sara was the youngest-ever female dragon to join BBC One’s Dragons’ Den and in 2021, she danced her way to week seven on Strictly Come Dancing with her partner Aljaz Škorjanec. 

This summer, she’s set to be a judge on the BBC’s brand-new wedding-themed show with Fred Siriex and Raj Somaiya.


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AA Dhand


AA Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store.  After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing.

The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels. 

Having published six novels, he began developing them for a UK broadcaster. 

“Virdee” is due to hit our screens in the near future.  Amit also has an original series in development with Euston films


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Deborah Dunnett

Commissioning Editor Daytime and Features, Channel 4

Deborah Dunnett is a Commissioning Editor for Daytime and Features from Channel 4’s Glasgow Hub. She commissions a range of content from Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig to Miriam Margolyes and Alan Cumming: Lost in Scotland plus all Matt Baker’s More 4 series. Upcoming titles include Joe and Katherine’s Bargain Holidays and The Big Interiors Battle – a competition to win a luxury apartment, mortgage free.

Before moving into this role Deborah was Nations & Regions Manager for Channel 4 - helping Indies make the most of the broadcaster’s commitment to spend outside of London.  Working closely across all commissioning genres, Deborah led strategy on increasing Indie engagement across the UK as well as running the Alpha Fund for small and emerging indies. She was also responsible for stakeholder engagement in the Nations and Regions.

Prior to Channel 4 Deborah was an Exec Producer and Head of Development in Glasgow, creating Scotland’s leading free-to-access recruitment site on the side.

ITN head shots, 28th February to 2nd March 2023. Commisioned by Frances Mullan

Cait FitzSimons

Editor, 5 News

Cait has been the Editor of 5 News for 5 years. In 2022, she oversaw the successful relaunch and expansion of 5 News at 5 to an hour duration with the new presenting line-up of Dan Walker and Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije. The programme also enjoyed its most successful year for awards last year winning two MJA awards and one from the Society of Editors.

Cait has also worked for Sky News and ITV News as well as making special programmes for general elections and royal weddings. She spent time on the road – covering everything from elections to music festivals, including Sky News’ coverage of the Asian Tsunami and its Bafta award winning work on the Soham murders.

As a member of ITN’s senior leadership team, Cait is involved in setting the strategy and direction of the company. She’s committed to improving the diversity of newsrooms and has a particular interest in improving the representation of people from across the regions and nations of the UK.


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Ben Frow

Chief Content Officer, UK, Paramount

Ben is Chief Content Officer, UK, at Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS), with oversight of Channel 5 and its digital brands, the wider Paramount channel portfolio, and the global streaming service Paramount+ UK which launched in June 2022. 

 Under Ben’s leadership, Channel 5 has undergone a creative transformation through continued investment in high quality originations across all genres, and a focus on increasing original commissions for peak time. Channel 5 has broadened the scope of its programming, commissioning drama, history and more, to build on its roots in factual programming and attract talent including Michael Palin, Susan Calman, Jay Blades and Jeremy Vine. This fundmental shift in the channel’s perception – and wider audience appeal – has been recognised with a raft of industry awards, including Channel 5’s first ever BAFTA for Cruising with Jane McDonald, Channel of the Year awards from Edinburgh and the RTS, and accolades for programmes across a range of genres.

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Jazz Gowans

Creative Director & Executive Producer, Nine Lives Media

Jazz is an award-winning creative leader and executive producer who founded and ran Transparent Television (part of the global Argonon Group) for over 15 years. Jazz has worked with all the major networks and has a proven skill and tenacity for popular factual TV with programmes currently showing in over 100 countries worldwide. 

Recently named one of TV Collective’s top 50 diverse leaders in television Jazz is a BAFTA judge and chairs many awards juries/committees for BAFTA, RTS, Griersons and Broadcast. Before TV, Jazz spent over a decade as a celebrity/features journalist, writing for publications such as The Guardian and Vogue.

 Her commissions include: A Very British Brothel, My Daughter Amy (Winehouse); The Band Aid Story; Britain's Forgotten Army with Joanna Lumley for Channel 4; ITV’s MOBOs: BBC2’s Restoration Roadshow; Botched Up Bodies, Hidden History of Britain with Michael Portillo, Queens of Pop: Aretha to Whitney for C5.

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Duncan Gray

Founder of Twenty Six 03 

Last year, Gateshead based indie Twenty Six 03  produced Angels Of The North Series 4 (BBC Three), 24/7 Pet Hospital (BBC One), Inside The Heist (Discovery Plus), Hannah Spearritt : Breast Implants and Me (ITV Be) and Retreat Yourself (ITV X)

Previous to setting up Twenty Six 03, Duncan was a Commissioner at ABC in Los Angeles where he Exec Produced Jimmy Kimeml Live for 3 years, at ITV where he commissioned BGT and Sky where he commissioned A League Of Their Own,  As Head Of Entertainment at Granada, Duncan launched Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, Popstars: The Rivals and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway

Duncan started his career at Planet 24 where he developed both The Big Breakfast and Survivor as well as being Series Editor of The Word and Executive Producing The Big Breakfast

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Robson Green

Actor/ Presenter and Director - Rivers Meet Productions

Robson is an Actor/ Presenter and Director of Rivers Meet Productions based in the North East of England. He is well known for his documentary series such as Robson Green: Fishing Coast to Coast, Extreme Fishing, and Walking Hadrian’s Wall. He can most recently be seen playing the leading role, Geordie Keating, in ITV’s Grantchester (Series 1-8).

Other television: Age Before Beauty  (BBC); Strike Back (series 5) (SKY/ HBO); Mount Pleasant (series 2) (SKY1); Waterloo Road (BBC); Being Human (BBC3); Joe Maddison's War (Mammoth Screen); Wire In The Blood (series 1-5) (Coastal Productions ltd); City Lights  (ITV); Northern Lights (ITV); Beaten (East Coastal Productions ltd); Like Father Like Son  (Ecosse Films) Rocketman (Coastal Productions ltd); Christmas Lights (ITV); Unconditional Love (Fairfax Company/ Coastal Production ltd); Last Musketeer (STV/Coastal Productions ltd); Grafters (series 1 & 2) (ITV/ Coastal Productions ltd); Touching Evil (Meridian/ United Film and ITV); Reckless (ITV).

Alison Gwynn

Alison Gwynn

Chief Executive, North East Screen

From providing marketing leadership at the Centre for Life to being instrumental in the planning and development of Seven Stories, Alison is now leading the resurgence of the TV and Film industry in the North East. Her role at North East Screen is to drive strategic development identifying new sources of revenue and ensuring North East Screen is best place to serve the growing industry.

Alison has recently brought together 12 local authorities and 3 combined authorities to form the North East Screen Industries Partnership (NESIP) working alongside the BBC to deliver growth through partnership working, creating jobs and encouraging inward investment.


Sonny Hanley

Sonny Hanley

Director of ITV Academy

Sonny’s career at ITV has spanned over 20 years with roles varying from Production to Technology to Operations to Content Services.  Prior to his current role as ITV Academy’s Director, Sonny’s work would see him introduce new technology to help production as well as work on the transformational project that moved tape delivery fully digital.  Sonny started his career within the factual entertainment department in Leeds, working on shows for ITV, Channel 4 as well as many others.  Sonny is also the Chair for ITV Embrace, ITV's internal network for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic colleagues and sits on the Board of the Northern Ballet Company as a Non-Executive Director.


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Kirsty Hanson

Commissioning Editor  UKTV

Kirsty is an experienced Commissioning Editor and Executive Producer with a raft of high-profile primetime series to her name from Popular Factual and Documentary to Formats and Features. Kirsty has managed major international brands, series with ambitious scale and extreme environments as well as sensitive and compliance-heavy series. Since joining UKTV in 2018, Kirsty has commissioned shows including Wedding Valley, Alex Jones: Making Babies, Rochelle Humes: Interior Designer In The Making, The Wedding Fixer, Special Ops: Crime Squad UK, My Greatest Dish and Sarah Beeny: Renovate Don’t Relocate

Prior to UKTV, Kirsty was a Commissioning Editor at BBCWW, where commissions include Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby, Meet The Humans with Michael MosleySpecial Forces: Ultimate Hell WeekThe Secret Helpers, all for BBC2. Other freelance credits include The Hoarder Next Door, The Restaurant ManHow Not To Get OldWould Like To MeetWhat Not To WearAntiques Uncovered with Lucy Worsley and Turn Back Your Body Clock


Emma Hardy

Emma Hardy

Director of Commissioning Operations , Channel 4

Emma spent more than 20 years as Director of Talent and Managing Director at Princess Productions, where she helped to launch the TV careers of high-profile talent including Dermot O’Leary and Mel & Sue. During Emma’s time at Princess, she was involved in a raft of formats across genres including The Sunday Night Project, The Wright Stuff and Sunday Brunch.

Emma has been part of a number of well-known collaborations, such as working with Cancer Research UK on their Stand Up To Cancer/Channel 4 campaign. She also had a stint as Executive Producer at Manchester City Football Club, overseeing the All or Nothing full-access eight-part documentary for Amazon Studios. At Channel 4, Creative Diversity, the Off-Screen Talent department and Indie Relations all report to Emma and she is very heavily involved in many cross-departmental collaborations


Patrick Holland

CEO Banijay UK

Patrick is Banijay UK’s CEO overseeing the management and strategic direction of the UK group’s portfolio of over 20 scripted and unscripted production labels.

Patrick joined Banijay in May 2022 from the BBC, where he was Director, Factual, Arts & Classical Music (appointed April 2021) and prior to this Channel Controller of BBC Two (appointed March 2017).

Under his leadership the channel built an unparalleled pipeline of series that graduated to BBC One and won channel of the year awards at both the Edinburgh TV Awards and Broadcast Awards. 

Prior to joining BBC Two, Patrick was Head of Commissioning, Documentaries for the BBC and prior to joining the broadcaster, Patrick was managing director of one of the UK’s biggest factual independent production companies, Boundless (part of Fremantle Media UK).  


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Caroline Hollick

Head of Drama, Channel 4

Caroline is of Head OF Drama at Channel 4, and is based in the Leeds HQ.  Recent successes include groundbreaking series It’s a Sin by Russell T Davies, and BAFTA-winning drama Help by Jack Thorne. Newer shows include returning series Screw by Rob Williams, The Undeclared War by Peter Kosminsky, Chivalry by Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan, and critically acclaimed Somewhere Boy by Pete Jackson, alongside continuing drama Hollyoaks.

Previously, she was Creative Director at Studio-Canal owned Red Production Company. Before that she was Head of Development at Red and she began her career as a production trainee at Yorkshire Television.


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Si King


Hailing from the North East, Si King is a large-hearted, proud and grounded Geordie with a passion for great food, travel and music.

He started his career as an Assistant Director and Locations Manager on numerous productions including the Harry Potter films and Byker Grove. 

In 1994, Si met Dave on the set of Catherine Cookson’s The Gambling Man and, realising their strong mutual interests, the Hairy Bikers concept was written and subsequently commissioned.  The lads packed their panniers and embraced the opportunity to seek out new dishes from around the globe.

Twenty years later with over twenty top selling cookbooks and a successful podcast, The Hairy Bikers have achieved unrivalled success creating dishes all over the world with Michelin starred chefs to local villagers alike.

Si continues to live in the North East working hard to support the local community and charities he cares so passionately about.


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Stewart Kyasimire

Executive Producer and Managing Director “Create Anything” 

Fuelled by an innate passion for storytelling, particularly the untold stories of underrepresented communities, Stewart has charted a career path in film and TV. He has been recognised for his groundbreaking work on the documentary 'Black and Scottish' (BBC)', which garnered two Bafta nominations. Through his leadership and activism, Stewart has been instrumental in transforming Create Anything into a prominent Scottish production company, specialising in both scripted and unscripted content for major broadcasters like Amazon, BBC and Channel 4.

As the MD of ‘Re:frame’, a diverse talent pool for TV and film, Stewart has provided a platform for underrepresented creatives behind the camera to work with major production companies.  In 2020, Stewart was recognised by the BBC, Future Figures 2021 alongside notable individuals such as Sir Lewis Hamilton and Olympian Alice Dearing.


Emma Lawson

Emma Lawson

Commissioning Editor, BBC Comedy

Originating from the North East, Emma worked her way through the ranks on many hours of scripted comedy with major indies including Objective (Peep Show, Star Stories), Fremantle (Count Arthur Strong) and Roughcut TV, where she stayed for 10 years working with Ash Atalla on projects including five series of Cuckoo (BBC Three) and People Just Do Nothing (BBC Three). 

Emma went on to produce Trying, the first scripted comedy for Apple TV+, which led to an in-house commissioning role working under Jay Hunt. Since leaving Apple she has originated a new comedy series for Sky One, worked as a development executive for Universal Music’s global scripted arm, and set up regional development initiative The North East Comedy House, before joining the BBC Comedy commissioning team in January 2022.



John McVay OBE

Chief Executive, Pact

John is the Chief Executive of Pact the UK’s leading Trade Association for Film, TV, Animation, Children’s and Digital production companies. John contributes to many UK government and international policy fora on the creative industries, broadcasting, trade and investment. He has extensive experience of policy development across all aspects of broadcasting and television production and leads on all Pact policy development in the UK and Europe.  He also maintains excellent relationships with all of the UK’s major political parties and the devolved assemblies and parliaments. 

John is currently; a Board member of the Creative Diversity Network, a member of the Creative Industries Council (CIC), an industry advisor to the AHRC Creative Industries programme, Industry board member of the British Film Commission, a board member of the Creative Cities Convention and is industry lead on the UK Government backed £500m Production Restart scheme.


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Brian Minchin

Executive Producer, Hartswood West

Hartswood is in production on The Devil’s Hour season 2 for Amazon, Wolf for BBC, and recent shows include Inside Man, Dracula and Control Room. It is developing a slate of shows including Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s critically acclaimed novel The Warlock Effect. 

Cardiff based Brian was recently Executive Producer of The Time Traveller’s Wife for HBO. Before joining Hartswood Brian was Executive Producer at BBC Wales, and ran Doctor Who alongside Steven Moffat. He has EP'd or Produced Russell T Davies’ Torchwood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Wizards vs Aliens, and the Sarah Jane Adventures. As part of the BBC Wales Drama team Brian worked across many shows including Being Human, and Dirk Gently. Awards won by the shows include BANFF, BAFTA Audience Award, RTS, NTA, Peabody.


Scarlett Moffatt

Scarlett Moffatt


Scarlett has become a regular on TV screens after making the public laugh with her quick-witted humour on Gogglebox before being crowned Queen of the Jungle on I’m A Celebrity.

Scarlett headed to Channel 4 in July 2022 for prime time investigative documentary, Britain’s Tourette’s Mystery: Scarlett Moffatt Investigates, which tackles the rise of Tourette’s and tics in young people since the pandemic. The documentary landed 5* plaudits from the critics and was a ratings hit. She also fronts Scarlett’s Driving School, her own 10 part series for BBC1.


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Charlotte Moore

BBC Chief Content Officer

In September 2020, Charlotte Moore was appointed Chief Content Officer and joined the BBC Board. She is the senior leader for BBC content and audiences across all genres and platforms, with the exception of News and Nations and Regions.

In July 2016, Charlotte Moore became Director, BBC Content and Controller of BBC One. She was responsible for the creative vision across the portfolio of channels, BBC iPlayer and genres and took on oversight of BBC Sport.

In January 2016, Charlotte Moore was appointed Controller of TV Channels and iPlayer.

Charlotte was appointed Controller of BBC One in June 2013. Under her leadership, BBC One enhanced its position as the nation’s most popular TV channel.

Charlotte was the BBC Commissioning Editor of Documentaries from 2009. Prior to joining the BBC in 2006, Charlotte was Director of Contemporary Factual at IWC Media.


Jimmy Mulville

Jimmy Mulville

Managing Director & Executive Producer, Hat Trick productions

Jimmy was one of the founders of Hat Trick Productions in 1986. Since then, he’s overseen its growth into one of the country's leading producers of popular and award-winning comedy, drama, entertainment and digital media. He has a proven track record of identifying, developing and nurturing the best new writing and on-screen talent in the UK. His success spans a 30-year career; from long-running hits Whose Line is it Anyway?  (the first UK show sold to the US), Have I Got News For You and Father Ted, to Outnumbered, Episodes starring Matt Leblanc and most recently  Channel 4’s award-winning hit Derry Girls.

In 1999 Jimmy received the BAFTA Award for Outstanding Creative Contribution to Television. He is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool.


Helen Munson

Helen Munson

BBC Commissioner, Daytime and Early Peak 

Based in the North East, Helen is a Commissioner for Daytime and Early Peak.

Recent commissions include Robson Green’s Weekend Escape, Northern Justice, 24/7 Pet Hospital and Hope Street. Prior to being a Commissioner, Helen worked in various scheduling roles across BBC ONE and BBC TWO.


Caroline Norbury, 25Mar2022, Photographer Bronac McNeill

Caroline Norbury OBE

Chief Executive, Creative UK

Caroline is the Chief Executive of Creative UK, the independent network for the UK’s Creative Industries working to support and invest in creative talent and businesses, and unite the UK’s creative industries.

Caroline sits on the Creative Industries Council and chairs the Investment for Growth sub-group of the Council. She is a non-executive director of Crowdfunder, the UK’s largest rewards-based crowdfunding platform; a member of BAFTA and the Royal Society of Arts and a trustee for the PRS Foundation, a charity supporting new music and talent. Caroline is also Chairwoman of The Music Works, a charity in Gloucestershire changing the lives of young people through music. She was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to the film industry, and has recently been awarded an OBE at The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022 for her leadership and advocacy in shaping the creative sector’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.



Lisa Opie

Lisa Opie

Managing Director, Ubisoft Leamington and Ubisoft Reflections

Lisa is Managing Director of the UK’s two AAA Ubisoft studios, Ubisoft Reflections and Ubisoft Leamington, part of the wider Ubisoft group, with 20,000 team members working across more than 30 countries worldwide.

New to games, Lisa was previously Managing Director of Production, BBC Studios, whose raft of titles include Top Gear, Doctor Who, Trying, Strictly Come Dancing, and Good Omens, among many more.

Prior to that Lisa was Managing Director of BBC Studio’s Factual. She led the Factual teams as they left public service and launched commercially, successfully winning commissions from all major broadcasters and platforms, including Emmy Award winning Surgeons Cut for Netflix, Pre-Historic Planet for Apple, The Story of the Clash for Spotify and Green Plant for the BBC.

 Lisa began her career in the theatre, having attended the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Indiana University Theatre School.


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David Parfitt

Trademark Films, Chairman of North East Screen

David has worked as an independent film, TV and theatre producer for over 30 years.  His film credits include Henry V, Peter's Friends, Much Ado About Nothing, The Madness of King George (BAFTA for Outstanding British Film), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, The Wings of the Dove, Shakespeare in Love (winner of Seven Academy Awards and four BAFTA Awards including Best Film), Gangs of New York, (Production Consultant), I Capture the Castle, Chasing Liberty and A Bunch of Amateurs.  

David’s company Trademark Films co-produced the world’s first hand-painted animated feature film, Loving Vincent, which was nominated for both BAFTA and Academy Awards in the Animation category.  Most recently, David produced The Father starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman winning two Oscars and two BAFTAs. 

David was Chairman of BAFTA 2008-10 and Chairman of Film London 2010-17 and was appointed Chairman of North East Screen in January 2023.


Leo Pearlman

Leo Pearlman

Co-founder, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, Fulwell 73

Leo, alongside his partners, co-founded Fulwell 73 in 2007. The production company has gone on to become an Emmy and BAFTA award-winning content company, producing some of the most watched and impactful shows on the planet. From ‘The Kardashians’ to ‘Sunderland Til I Die’ and with bases in London, LA and Sunderland, Fulwell continues to set the standard across multiple genres. 

Leo's role encompasses business development and growth strategy, spearheading the development of Fulwell North in Sunderland, which aims to showcase local talent and to help close the regional skills gap in the film and TV industry.  Leo is also a prolific producer, and executive producer, having worked on Cinderella (Amazon Prime), Supergreed: The Fight For Football (Sky),  Captains and DB Cooper Where Are You (Netflix), Blowing LA (Paramount+) and the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special  (BBC). His output has enjoyed accolades including BAFTA TV Awards, National Film Awards, Emmys, Grammys and Brits. Leo grew up in Sunderland and studied in Manchester.


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Ruth Pitt

Media consultant and Creative Cities Convention director

Ruth is a trained journalist and a former head of documentaries at Granada Television, creative director of documentaries in BBC Religion and Ethics and head of factual at Tiger Aspect Productions. She also founded and ran her own production company Real Life Productions.

Since 2015 Ruth’s media consultancy Under The Moon Ltd has been advising local government and other organisations on the development of the screen and creative sectors outside London. 

The company also runs industry events and designs mentor networks to help under-represented groups through glass ceilings. Clients include Channel 4, ScreenSkills, Pact and councils in Bradford, Leeds, the wider North East and the office of West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin.

Ruth was creative consultant for the Leeds City Region’s successful campaign to secure Channel 4’s new National HQ, which garnered a Royal Television Society award for outstanding contribution to television. 

She is a regular chair at festivals and events and is currently working closely with the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to establish a ground-breaking National Poetry Centre in Leeds.


From ITV 

Pictured: Ade Rawcliffe


Ade Rawcliffe

Group Director of Diversity and Inclusion, ITV

Ade is Group Director of Diversity & Inclusion at ITV. She is the first Diversity Director on the Management Board of a FTSE 100 company. She has responsibility for all diversity and inclusion related matters across the Group, leading, developing and delivering ITV’s global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategy. ITV recently launched an £80 million Diversity Commissioning Fund.

Prior to joining ITV, she led the Creative Diversity team at Channel 4, spearheading the delivery of the 360° Diversity Charter and was part of the team responsible for C4’s coverage of Rio 2016 Paralympics and London 2012 Paralympics, which broke records for disabled presenters and production staff. Ade also worked in the Features Commissioning team at C4, as a Producer on shows including: Big Brother, The Big Breakfast and This Morning.

Ade sits on the Board of BAFTA, chairing their Learning, Inclusion & Talent committee and is a Trustee of The National Trust, and a Board member of Times Up UK.


Sinead Rocks, Managing Director for Nations & Regions, Channel 4

Sinéad Rocks

Managing Director for Nations and Regions, Channel 4

Sinéad is Managing Director for Nations and Regions and the lead executive at Channel 4’s new National HQ in Leeds. She leads delivery of C4’s Nations and Regions strategy and oversees 4Skills; C4’s extensive training commitments aimed at broadening access to the broadcasting industry across the UK and strengthening the production sector outside of London.

Prior to joining Channel 4, Sinead was the BBC’s Director of Education, responsible for a range of content across TV, radio and online and she also played a key role in the BBC’s move to Salford – migrating the BBC’s Learning department to the North West site. She started her career as a journalist at BBC Northern Ireland and is a former editor of Newsround as well as an Executive Producer for BBC Current Affairs. 



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Hilary Rosen

Director of Commissioning, UKTV

Hilary Rosen leads UKTV’s award-winning team of commissioners, overseeing all of UKTV's original unscripted and scripted content. Her team has delivered the hit scripted shows The Cockfields, Annika and The Diplomat, and Hilary has overseen some of UKTV's biggest successes including BAFTA-winning show Taskmaster and award-winning Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable. While running the Factual and Factual Entertainment slate she and her team commissioned breakout hits Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over, the double BAFTA-winning Big Zuu's Big Eats and the Bangers and Cash franchise.

Prior to UKTV Hilary was creative director at Silver River. Her career has also encompassed ten years as a senior executive producer at Lion Television and a decade in BBC News and Current Affairs. Hilary is an active member of the BAFTA Television Committee and has also acted as a consultant for BBC Academy, worked on the Edinburgh International TV Festival and Realscreen advisories and is passionate about mentoring women in television.

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Professor Katy Shaw

AHRC Director Creative Communities

Katy Shaw is Professor of 21st-century writing and publishing at Northumbria University, UK and Director of the UKRI/AHRC Creative Communities programme. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion in the creative industries (the subject of her 2022 TED talk) and the redistribution of the creative industries from the capital to the regions and nations as part of the ‘levelling up agenda’.

She sits as a commissioner on the LGA Culture Commission and the Gordon Brown Union Commission. Her policy consultancy focuses on R&D, innovation and the role of education in cultural partnership working.


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Nicola Shindler OBE

Executive Producer | Chief Executive of Quay Street Productions 

Nicola is a prolific, multi award-winning British television producer, who has worked with some of the most lauded names in television and created some of its most memorable series.  

Renowned for her relationships with writers, Nicola has produced some of the UK’s most successful and award-winning dramas, including It’s A Sin (Ch4/ HBO), Harlan Coben’s The Stranger and Stay Close(Netflix), Years and Years (BBC/HBO), Happy Valley (BBC), Queer As Folk (Channel 4), Ridley Road (BBC/ Masterpiece), Traces (UKTV), Last Tango in Halifax (BBC), Butterfly (ITV)

Her latest drama series, the first Quay Street Productions drama, is Nolly (ITVX), written by Russell T Davies and starring Helena Bonham Carter. Forthcoming series include Significant Other (ITVX), After the Flood (ITV) and Harlan Coben’s Fool Me Once (Netflix).  

Prior to launching Quay Street Productions in 2021, Nicola founded RED Production Company where she was Chief Executive for over twenty years.


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Kema Sikazwe

Actor, Singer and Presenter

Brought up in Newcastle. Kema developed a passion for rap, singing and songwriting at a  young age. In his early twenties, Kema started acting and landed a main role in BAFTA award-winning film “I Daniel Blake”.  He went on to write his one man show "Shine" which he performed at Newcastle Live theatre. Kema’s gone on to explore radio, creating and presenting a documentary series for BBC World Service called "Finders Keepers" about the looting and return of ancient artefacts.

When not performing, Kema runs a studio giving opportunities to young people to record. He also delivers song writing workshops in schools, youth projects and the community, teaching others how to use music as an outlet to express emotions and build confidence.

Kema is currently working on a BBC Three documentary about his journey and thoughts through therapy and developing his show “Shine” into a TV drama.


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Pam Smith

Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council

Pam joined Newcastle City Council as Chief Executive in January 2022 having been Chief Executive at Stockport Council since 2017 where she was also Greater Manchester’s Lead Chief Executive for ‘Age Friendly Greater Manchester’, and she continues to be the Solace lead spokesperson for Housing. She was previously Chief Executive at Burnley Council and has also worked for the Audit Commission.

Pam joins Newcastle City Council at a time of great change and opportunity as the city seeks to emerge strongly from the pandemic. Pam is passionate about people, communities and neighbourhoods and is eager to work with residents and colleagues from across the region to achieve the best outcomes for the people of Newcastle; leveraging the opportunities that levelling up and devolution offer to secure outstanding schools, excellent jobs and high-quality homes to make Newcastle one of the best places in the world to grow up, work and live.

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Sandra Smith

Director of Production at Banijay UK

With more than 30 years' experience in the television industry, Sandra works closely with label department heads and production chiefs on best working practices, focusing primarily on unscripted.

Other duties include providing support across the group's production management teams, support on production procurement, talent sourcing and liaising with studios.

Sandra has worked within the group for nearly 20 years.



Rhodri Talfan Davies

BBC Director, Nations

Rhodri Talfan Davies is the BBC Director of Nations and sits on the BBC’s Executive Committee.

Appointed to the role in January 2021, Rhodri leads the BBC’s work serving nations and local audiences across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The BBC Nations division is one of the largest in the organisation and produces a range of content across TV, radio and online for audiences in the nations, across the whole of the UK and globally. He leads the teams responsible for the UK’s biggest news show, the regional BBC One 6.30pm programmes, and a network of local and nations radio stations reaching almost 9m listeners across the UK.

In the last year, Rhodri has accelerated the delivery of standout TV programming from across the devolved nations, launching a new collaboration between nations and network teams to drive portrayal of different parts of the UK. These include The Pact, In My Skin, Granite Harbour and Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland.


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Kim Tserkezie

Actor, Writer, CEO Scattered Pictures

Kim has worked as an Actor, Presenter, Writer and Producer for twenty-five years, with a career spanning comedy, drama and documentary.  In 2022, she was included in the Top 10 most influential disabled people in the UK (Shaw Trust Power 100). 

Kim got her first TV break as a Presenter for BBC's Disability Today and From The Edge and went on to play Penny Pocket in four series of BAFTA award winning, Balamory. In 2020, Kim won a Royal Television Society Award for best drama performance for her leading role in Obsession (BFI Network). 

Kim set up production company, Scattered Pictures, in 2011. Based in Kim’s home city of Newcastle, the company is focused on underrepresented talent.

Kim has received TV drama and comedy writing commissions from BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and is currently commissioned to co-write two feature films. 

Kim has chaired industry events for RTS, BFI and Netflix. 


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Ben Turner

Co-founder, Managing Partner and Executive Producer, Fulwell 73

Ben is a multi-award winning producer, director, and founding partner at Fulwell 73, the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning London, LA and Sunderland based company responsible for some of the most culturally influential shows on the planet. Ben began as an editor, before his documentary In The Hands of the Gods (Lionsgate) brought him and brother Gabe into the spotlight. Ben has gone on to direct some of Fulwell’s biggest projects such as Class of 92, Hitsville The Making of Motown and I Am Bolt.

Ben now oversees creative at Fulwell and executive produces documentary series such as Sunderland Til I Die and Among The Stars. He has also directed music videos for artists like Harry Styles, commercials for companies like Honda, and comedy with talent like David Walliams. Upcoming projects include Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All, and series 2 of Netflix’s documentary series at the Qatar World Cup. 



Kirsty Wark

Host of Creative Cities Convention

Our host Kirsty Wark has built up a reputation as one of the UK’s most formidable and versatile television journalists. She is best known as an anchor on the BBC’s flagship news and current Affairs show Newsnight.

Born in Dumfries and now based in Glasgow, Kirsty’s broadcasting career began in 1976 when she joined the BBC as a graduate researcher. She produced a range of radio programmes in Scotland before spending time in London as a producer on Radio Four’s The World at One and PM. In 1983 she moved to television to produce Reporting Scotland and was the first woman to edit the programme.

Kirsty was one of the first journalists to arrive on the scene when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up in the skies above Lockerbie in 1988.  Two years later, she famously locked horns with Margaret Thatcher in a headline making interview which propelled her into the national spotlight.  In addition to political reporting, Kirsty presents many arts and cultural programmes; career highlights have included interviews with Madonna, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, Damien Hirst and George Clooney, to name just a few. She has fronted many documentaries for BBC Television including the critically acclaimed Blurred Lines: The New Battle of the Sexes and more recently The Insider’s Guide To The Menopause which was nominated for a BAFTA.

Away from the studio lights, food is her passion. She reached the final in Celebrity MasterChef in 2011 and was crowned top celebrity baker on The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief.

Kirsty has several major accolades to her name including BAFTA Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting, Journalist of the Year and Best Television Presenter.

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Richard Williams OBE

Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Screen

Northern Ireland Screen has, in the last 14 years, taken the lead role in developing the screen industry in Northern Ireland.  

Under Richard’s leadership, Northern Ireland Screen developed the Paint Hall as a film studio which was the home of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES for eight seasons.  And more recently partnered with Belfast Harbour Commission in the development of Belfast Harbour Studios, a new purpose-built studio complex.

During his time, Northern Ireland Screen has expanded its support to cover large-scale production, TV drama, independent film, factual/entertainment, animation and interactive content, including the development and production of many independent films, all genres of television and a growing number of digital content projects, including HUNGER for which Steve McQueen won the Camera D’Or, Terry and Oorlagh George’s Oscar winner THE SHORE, Michael Lennox’s BAFTA winner and Oscar nominated BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM, multi-award winning DERRY GIRLS and the recent Oscar® for An Irish Goodbye.

Richard previously worked for Waddell Media, represented Northern Ireland on PACT, worked in newspaper management and was a commercial solicitor.  He was awarded an OBE in 2019.


Chwarel director, Sioned Wyn the person behind the Together sponsored  Bafta winning Tv show ‘The Great House Giveaway’  brings her award into the Stockport office  of Together

Sioned Wyn

Creative Director/Cyfarwyddwr Creadigol Chwarel

Sioned is a trained journalist and radiographer  who spent 10 years at Granada Manchester, before moving to Newsnight in London. In 2001 she returned to her native Wales and started Chwarel ( which means Quarry in Welsh).  There she produced series and singles for the indigenous market in Wales – mainly BBC Wales and S4C.  She also directed the Bafta Wales nominated ‘Jo & Ruby’ and C4’s ‘The Horse Hoarder’.

In 2019 she cemented her relationship with C4 with a twenty part daytime series called ‘The Great House Giveaway’.  This went on to win a daytime UK  Bafta, Broadcast and two RTS awards thus securing the company a 60 ep two year deal.  Last year Chwarel was nominated for the Edinburgh TV Festival’s ‘Best Small Indie of the Year’.

This year Chwarel successfully bid for the franchise to produce the Welsh Gogglebocs for S4C alongside fellow Welsh indie Cwmni Da. 


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John Yorke

Managing Director, John Yorke Story and author of Into the Woods

As former Head of Channel Four Drama, Controller of BBC Drama Production and MD of Company Pictures, John has shaped stories that have attracted some of the biggest audiences for drama in UK TV history. He has overseen some of the most enduring and popular programmes, from Shameless and Life On Mars to EastEnders and Holby City, alongside award-winners like Bodies and Wolf Hall.  He is winner of numerous awards, including two BAFTAs as producer and six as commissioning editor.  

Throughout his career, John has forensically studied how stories work and why they resonate with audiences worldwide, distilling this knowledge into his book Into the Woods.

John can currently be heard analysing stories weekly on BBC Radio 4's Opening Lines. He is a proud alumnus and has been a Visiting Professor of English at Newcastle University.