Jana Bennett said: “The creation of this important new role reflects our commitment to putting audiences at the heart of what we do at the BBC.
“To deliver the ambition of Creative Future and meet audiences’ expectations in a changing world, we need our programmes to reflect fully and accurately the diversity of the UK population.”
First in this newly created role is Mary FitzPatrick, a former BBC programme maker who has most recently been Channel 4’s Editorial Manager of Cultural Diversity.
Part of Jana’s team, Mary will work closely with channel controllers, commissioners, in-house and independent production companies to improve on-screen portrayal and diversity on BBC Television, including offering valuable advice to programme makers during the course of the development and production of programmes.
Mary will take overall responsibility for reviewing and tracking on-screen content including the portrayal of black and minority ethnic and disabled people.
Part of her role will be to ensure that programmes are culturally authentic and accurate, but also challenging and authoritative. She will aim to set up the industry’s definitive database for locating diverse on and off-screen talent for use by in-house production and Indies.
Jana Bennett added: “Mary FitzPatrick has a formidable track record in marrying outstanding diverse talent with a range of genres and great productions.
“This, combined with her fantastic relationship with internal and external producers and PACT, makes her the perfect person to drive this new role. I look forward to welcoming her back to the BBC.”
Mary FitzPatrick said: “I see my role as enhancing the BBC’s programming by opening it up to diverse talents and voices in a way that will deepen its relationship with all its audiences.
“The emphasis will be not be on quotas or box-ticking, but on focusing minds on the fact that television audiences are hugely diverse and they rightly expect to see themselves and their life experiences reflected on TV.”
Mary has been Editorial Manager, Cultural Diversity at Channel 4 since 2004, during a period which has seen her advising on casting on many shows including How Clean Is Your House?, Wife Swap, A Place By The Sea, and You Are What You Eat.
Mary FitzPatrick began her career as a director and producer at the BBC where she worked on award-winning series’ such as Horizon and Inside Story.
As an Executive Producer in the independent sector she made factual programmes as varied as Trouble At The Top, Britain’s War Heroes and Hidden Identities, about Jamie Bulger’s killers.
Mary will take up her new role in July 2006, working alongside Krishan Arora, the BBC’s Independent Executive, and reporting to Helen Blenkinsop, Managing Editor, Television Commissioning.