Helen Bullough Helen Bullough

BBC Studios’ head of kids and family productions Helen Bullough is stepping down after 11 years with the U.K. broadcaster and will leave her role at some point later this year.

Who is Helen Bullough? Bullough joined the broadcaster in 2011. During her time at the company, she has held several high-ranking positions including head of CBBC Productions, which produces content for the BBC’s children’s television channel. In her most recent role as head of kids and family, she oversaw production of animated series such as JoJo & Gran Gran (pictured at top, left) and Go Jetters, as well as live-action dramas and educational programming.

What are the circumstances of Bullough’s exit? Bullough’s purview changed in April, when her in-house production department was absorbed by the commercial arm of the BBC Studios Kids & Family division under Cecilia Persson. The shift is part of a wider reorganization effort at the BBC towards becoming a “digital-first” broadcaster more in line with contemporary viewing habits. Bullough is the second high-profile children’s exec to leave in recent weeks. Longtime BBC Kids exec Michael Towner, who was famously responsible for Teletubbies, has also exited after 34 years; his role as senior commissioning editor was deemed redundant in the BBC’s new management structure.

What does the shakeup mean for kids and family, and specifically animation, at the BBC? Since joining the company in 2020, director of BBC Children’s and Education Patricia Hidalgo has overseen a wholesale remodeling of the broadcaster’s children’s teams. Facing increased competition from global competitors in the kids and family market, she has overhauled the network’s commissioning structure and headed the aforementioned move of BBC Children’s in-house production team under the company’s commercial arm. In terms of animation, the shake-up proposes a promising future. Speaking at the Manchester Animation Festival late last year, Hidalgo announced that the BBC will triple its investment in animation.

What other changes have come from the BBC’s reorg? In one shock announcement, the broadcaster indicated that its popular CBBC channel will be shifted entirely online, though the transition will not occur until 2025 at the earliest. For decades, the network was one of the U.K.’s most popular homes to animated content including Arthur, Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and Bluey, among many others. According to a report by Deadline earlier this month – citing an internal BBC email – a large number of roles will be eliminated at the company, including several positions within the CBBC and CBeebies’ websites.

How much is the broadcaster looking to cut? It’s been reported that BBC director general Tim Davie is hoping to save around £1.5 billion (USD$1.83 billion) over the next five years. Estimates predict that more than 1,000 positions within the company will be eliminated during that time frame, adding to the 1,200 employees who have already left since cost-cutting measures began a year and a half ago.

What are they saying? “Helen is a highly respected creative leader who has made an invaluable contribution to children’s television in her time with the BBC and BBC Studios,” said Persson. “She will be dearly missed, not just for her incredible expertise, empathy and deep understanding for our young audience, but for her warmth, care and exceptional leadership across her production teams.”

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