BBC appoints head of entertainment

The BBC has reshuffled the senior commissioning ranks of its unscripted division, with the appointment of Kalpna Patel-Knight as head of entertainment.

Patel-Knight takes on the newly created role following an internal restructure of BBC Television’s senior leadership team, which saw the recent closure of the director of entertainment role.

The rejig in May saw Kate Phillips, who had been director of entertainment commissioning, taking up a giant remit as director of unscripted for the public broadcaster.

Patel-Knight, meanwhile, has been a commissioning editor for entertainment at the BBC since 2017, working on shows such as Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel, Blankety Blank and Wim Hof’s Freeze The Fear.

Before that, she led entertainment at UK prodco Possessed and worked as an executive producer on shows including Celebs Go Dating and Surprise Surprise.

Patel-Knight also set up, and is chair of, the BBC’s first ever Creative Diversity and Inclusion Panel.

The exec will now work closely with former BBC studios exec Phillips to lead the direction of BBC Entertainment, the pubcaster said, and will be responsible for commissioning entertainment output on all channels and BBC iPlayer.

She starts 5 September, with a replacement for her current commissioning role yet to be named, and will oversee more than 500 hours of original programmes a year, ranging from Strictly Come Dancing and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, to The Apprentice, Top Gear, Wim Hof’s Freeze The Fear and MasterChef.

Phillips said: “With her proven track record in production and commissioning, her vision for the future, and her love of entertainment, [Patel-Knight] will be a great leader and I look forward to working with her alongside the other heads in unscripted.”

These include:

Jo Wallace – Senior Commissioning Editor
Ruby Kuraishe – Commissioning Editor
Katie Taylor – Commissioning Editor
Rachel Ashdown – Commissioning Editor
Pinki Chambers – Commissioning Editor
Sarah Clay – Commissioning Editor
Neil McCallum – Commissioning Editor, nations and regions lead
Jamie Dodds – Digital commissioning executive
The reshuffle earlier this year brought together all BBC commissioning teams across entertainment, factual, arts & classical music and daytime, early-peak & events into a single unit under Phillips.

It led to the scrapping of director of entertainment and director of factual, arts & classical music roles. Fiona Campbell, who had been serving as acting director of factual, arts & classical music, following the departure of Banijay-bound Patrick Holland, returned to her role as controller of BBC Three. Holland has not been replaced, with his oversights coming under Phillips’ remit.

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