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ITV Studios creates three new Senior Directors of Production

The esteemed and highly regarded Sally Debonnaire prepares to retire from full-time production management after a forty year career

Four Heads of Production also named within Group

19th October, 2021 – ITV Studios has announced a number of senior production management appointments following a restructure which will ensure the group is best-placed to meet the growing demands of the global content business as it grows UK and international production.

Three new Directors of Production will individually oversee UK Scripted, UK non-scripted and international production, supporting the creation of outstanding and distinctive content across all ITV Studios labels and indies.

The new roles have been created alongside the decision by long-standing Director of Production, Sally Debonnaire, to retire from full-time production management by early 2022. Debonnaire, who joined ITV Studios in 2012, leads its global production management teams and has overseen the expansion of Studios to a 60 strong production label business. Sally leads Studios production strategy and implementation across the group, including Duty of Care, producing during Covid, technological innovations and is passionate about developing generations of production  -  as well as mentoring, guiding and leading in-house colleagues, Sally is ITV’s representative on the ScreenSkills Board to contribute to a pan-industry approach to production skills and training.

Matt Cleary and Helen Killeen take on the roles of Director of Production for scripted and non-scripted respectively, reporting into David McGraynor, Chief Operating Officer, with Ben Russell taking on the role of Director of Production International and reporting directly to Lisa Perrin, Managing Director, International Production.

Meanwhile, Jeanette Moffat takes up the role of Head of Production at Lifted Entertainment and Alice Gairdner will do so at ITV Studios Daytime, while in Continuing DramaNader Mabadi and Lee Rayner take up the position at Emmerdale and Coronation Street respectively.

Julian Bellamy, Managing Director of ITV Studios said:  “We’re working in a huge period of change for our industry, and with ITV Studios’ strategic ambition to continue to grow UK and International production, the task is only going to get bigger and production management is vital in delivering this.

“Matt, Helen and Ben will lead teams that are capable of driving innovation and the sharing of best practice across all our UK and international businesses and I’m delighted to have them on board. It is also testament to the strength of the talent we have working for us that Jeanette, Alice, Nader and Lee have all been promoted to their new roles.”

Julian added: “Sally will remain at ITV Studios for the next few months and we’ll all have the chance to say a proper goodbye to her sometime next year. In the meantime, it’s typical of Sally’s leadership that she’s put in place such a well organised transition plan with a brilliant production management team.”

Further Information on Sally Debonnaire

Sally began her career in the media industry over 40 years ago. Her early years were spent at London Weekend Television on programmes including Game For A Laugh, World of Sport, Blind Date and Dempsey and Makepeace. This was followed by a five year spell as a freelancer working for major independent companies.

Sally joined Talkback Productions in 1993 as Head of Production, becoming Managing Director in 2002. During this time she was a key member of the senior team leading rapid expansion as Talkback grew from a niche supplier of comedy into one of the best known and most successful companies spanning comedy, drama, entertainment, factual and documentaries with such iconic series as The Day Today, The Lost Prince, QI, Smack The Pony, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Grand Designs. As Chief Operating Officer of TalkbackThamesshe was responsible for successfully merging the two with over 1000 hours of programming including Brass Eye, Ali G, The Bill, Green Wing, The X Factor and The Apprentice.

As Managing Director at Avalon Television, Sally oversaw the relaunch of Harry Hill's TV Burp and the launching of Not Going Out before joining the BBC as Controller Production Operations, Vision Productions, where she was responsible for the overall operations function for Vision Productions, the BBC's in-house production department. She was accountable for the day-to-day management of the production slate including programmes such as EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear, Antiques Roadshow, The Thick of It and Frozen Planet. In addition to her production content responsibilities, Sally was the Vision lead for Training and Development, Sustainability and Health and Safety.

Further information on Matt Cleary, Helen Killeen and Ben Russell

Matt Cleary has over 25 years of experience, beginning his career in Entertainment, before moving into continuing drama at ITV Studios. In 2019, he was appointed Head of Production for Drama and Continuing Drama providing leadership and oversight to a growing slate of productions including high-end drama series such as Vera, Shetland and The Bay.

Helen Killeen started her career in factual and documentaries before moving to Daytime, where she played a key role in the launch of Good Morning Britain. In 2014, she was appointed to the role of Head of Production Daytime overseeing seven and a half hours of daily live television.

Ben Russell has been part of ITV for over 23 years, with his first 15 years spent in entertainment productions as both a production manager and a line producer on many successful reality, studio and location based productions. He moved to ITV Sport as head of production operations in 2013, where he was responsible for commercial, logistical and operational aspects of the sport production portfolio. This included overseeing some of the most watched recent live sporting events on television, including Football and Rugby Union World Cups, and helping to launch horse racing coverage back on ITV. 

Further information on Jeanette Moffat, Alice Gairdner, Nader Mabadi and Lee Rayner

Jeanette Moffat joined ITV over 20 years ago as a production coordinator and has worked across numerous genres for a number of broadcasters, including Channel 4, ITV2, Channel 5, Discovery and ITVBe. Having successfully overseen some of Lifted Entertainment’s biggest and most ambitious programming projects, including the move of The Voice UK from the BBC to ITV, the UK launch of The Voice Kids and the relaunch of Dancing on Ice, Jeanette became Deputy Head of Production in 2019. During her time with Lifted Entertainment, Jeanette has also worked on some of the label’s most established shows, including I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and Love Island.

Alice Gairdner has worked in production management since 2007 and started in factual programming. She moved to Daytime working on This Morning and then moved across to ITV Breakfast to become Line Producer across Daybreak and Lorraine. In 2017, Alice took on the role of Studio Operations Manager and played a key part in overseeing the move of Daytime to Westworks and Studioworks. Alice was appointed Deputy Head of Production Daytime in 2020.

Nader Mabadi has been with ITV for 18 years and has worked on productions within Entertainment, Drama and Continual Drama in many different operational and office based production roles. In 2009, Nader implemented a scheduling system for Emmerdale and in 2018 was appointed Senior Production Manager. Growing up with the Emmerdale Village down the road, Nader feels honoured to be in his new role as Head of Production.

Lee Rayner started his career in Lloyd's of London before navigating into the world of TV, quickly scaling the AD ladder on numerous productions, before becoming the Production Scheduler on The Bill until its end in 2010. He joined Coronation Street as Production Scheduler / 1st AD in 2011 and was made Production Manager 18 months later. Other credits include two series as Production Manager on Death in Paradise for the BBC.

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ITV Studios

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