Our speaker programme for this year’s Creative Cities Convention is an inspirational mix of industry experts who will share their own unique insights and expertise.
Join us to hear their views about a range of subjects which will impact on the future of broadcasting and the media as we look to the future our industry is creating.
See below for our growing list of speakers, listed alphabetically.
Leader of Glasgow City Council
Susan Aitken became leader of Glasgow City Council when the SNP became the largest party on the Council and formed a minority administration in May 2017. She was elected as a councillor for the Langside ward, where she lives, in 2012 and has been leader of the SNP group since 2014, having previously served as the group spokesperson on health and social care.
Before being elected, Susan worked in a variety of policy and research roles in the Scottish Parliament and the third sector, and as a freelance writer and editor specialising in health and social care policy. She grew up in Biggar in South Lanarkshire, moved to Glasgow aged 17 and is a graduate of both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
VP Production & Development, Love Nature4K
Alison Barrat is Vice President of production and development for Love Nature4K, a natural history channel that reaches 150 million households in 110 countries. Alison works with production companies and coproduction partners to help shape and greenlight new projects for Love Nature4K.
For more than two decades Alison has produced, written, and directed wildlife documentaries. Her work has been seen on PBS, National Geographic, The Smithsonian Channel, Discovery, and Animal Planet among others. She is an Emmy, and multi award-winning filmmaker. Alison has a B.Sc. in Zoology from Glasgow University, an M.A in film and documentary, and a certificate in Environmental Communication from Duke University.
Head of Creative Diversity, Channel 4
Babita is Head of Creative Diversity at Channel 4 – leading a team tasked with fulfilling one of Channel 4’s key priorities - ensuring the broadcaster continues to improve on and off-screen representation across its content.
Providing guidance and expertise on all aspects of inclusion, diversity and authentic portrayal for Channel 4’s commissioning team as well as its independent production partners, Babita also supports start-ups, BAME-led and regionally based companies alongside projects with diverse content or talent attached. Babita is committed to making broadcasting more inclusive and reflective of the diversity of the UK.
Babita joined Channel 4 from the BBC, where she was the Diversity and Inclusion Lead for BBC Content.
Controller, BBC Three
Fiona Campbell is Controller of BBC Three, the home of content for under 35s on BBC iPlayer and responsible for shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Glow Up, Fleabag and This Country.
Previously Fiona was Digital Director for BBC News where she developed BBC News presence on third party platforms as well as the BBC News app and website. Fiona spent five years as a Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 News between 2005 – 2009 where she also executive produced Dispatches output.
She began in production as a researcher on the Money Programme in London in 1994 and went on to work on Watchdog and Panorama as an Assistant Producer and then Producer-Director during the Kosovo and Iraq Wars. She was a Commissioning Editor for Documentaries and Current Affairs at BBC Three just before the Channel went online.
Sr. Director of Development, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, and Animal Planet
Laura is based in London and works alongside international and domestic producers to develop prime-time series for the US networks, while helping to steer strategy for new projects.
During her time with the network, Crowson has been an instrumental part of the Discovery team that is responsible for developing such hits as Naked and Afraid, Gold Rush: Dave Turin's Lost Mine and Undercover Billionaire.
Before joining Discovery, Crowson was a Development Executive/Producer for Gurney Productions in Los Angeles, CA. Prior to her work with Gurney Productions, she was in the highly prestigious agent trainee program at Creative Artists Agency.
Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks UK
Ben is Director of Programmes for ViacomCBS Networks UK, which includes Channel 5, the UK’s third largest commercial TV channel and its digital channels 5STAR, 5Select and 5USA, as well as Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network.
Ben was promoted into an expanded role across the ViacomCBS UK brand portfolio in November 2019, having initially joined Channel 5 as Director of Programmes in February 2013. Ben has ultimate responsibility for all content across the company’s TV networks and associated streaming services in the UK.
Under Ben’s leadership, Channel 5 has undergone a creative renewal through continued investment in high quality originations across a range of genres, with a focus on increased original commissions in peak time.
Deputy Head, Specialist Factual Unit, ARTE France
Hélène commissions natural history, history science, adventure and human interest programmes. Before that, she was a London-based freelance producer, writer and director for more than 10 years working mostly for the BBC in-house specialist factual unit.
Her credits include 700 Sharks for Arte and National Geographic, Lost Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs for Arte, Channel and Discovery Science, Okavango: River of Dreams for Arte and PBS, Forces of Nature for BBC1, Wonders of life; Oceans and Trust Me I’m A Doctor for BBC2, Animal Fight Night for National Geographic and Supersized Earth for Discovery.
Creative Director, Factual, STV
Craig joined STV in 2018. In his previous role as Lead Commissioning Editor for Natural History and Specialist Factual Craig’s commissioning credits include BBC’s Blue Planet Live, Drowning in Plastic and Inside the Factory and he has worked across a range of formats including blue chip series, live events, social experiments, competitions and returning formats.
Other commissioning highlights include The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs, Big Life Fix, The Parkinson’s Drug Trial: A Miracle Cure? Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me, Animals with Cameras and Amazing Hotels: Life beyond the Lobby. In production, Craig was Executive Producer for BBC Science and KEO Films, with credits across Specialist Factual, Features, Current Affairs and Documentaries, including the multi award-winning Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die for BBC Two.
Co-Host of Creative Cities Convention
Sanjeev Kohli is the co-writer/co-star of award-winning Radio 4 comedy Fags Mags and Bags, has written for sketch shows Chewin’ The Fat and Goodness Gracious Me, has presented extensively on the BBC, and has written and recorded vocals for the musical project The Grand Gestures.
Sanjeev has also appeared in the likes of Cold Feet, Fresh Meat and Look Around You (where he played Synthesiser Patel), as well as being the star of the video for Elbow’s Lost Worker Bee. He is best-known however for playing shopkeeper Navid in Still Game for nine series on the BBC and three sell-out runs at The Glasgow Hydro.
In early 2020, you’ll be able to catch Sanjeev in Armando Iannucci’s new HBO drama Avenue 5.
Sanjeev will be joining broadcaster and Newsnight producer Kirsty Wark to co-host the Creative Cities Convention 2020 in Glasgow.
Chief Executive, ScreenSkills
Screenskills is the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen industries, responsible for helping build an inclusive workforce and future-proofing the screen sectors in a fast-changing world.
Seertha is also a member of the Creative Diversity Network board and the Royal Television Society Education Committee and was formerly VP of Pearson Qualifications International.
She worked at the BBC in senior roles including BBC Online controller and launching BBC HD and in a variety of production roles at the BBC and Channel 4. She began her career as the first woman reporter at the Financial Express in New Delhi, India.
Dawn McCarthy-Simpson MBE
Managing Director of Business Development & Global Strategy, Pact
Dawn is an international development expert with over 25 years’ experience in the broadcast industry (television and radio). This includes Managing Director, Commercial Director and Broadcast Development Director roles at local, national and international television channels.
Dawn was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to Exports in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Currently Dawn leads on both the business development and international strategy at Pact, creating strategic opportunities and activating projects which enhance global exploitation for the UK TV sector. In 2017 she launched the Global Creative Alliance, attracting 15 country partners to help stimulate co-production activity.
Head of Digital Channels & Acquisitions, ITV
Paul became Head of Digital Channels & Acquisitions at ITV in 2016, with oversight of the channels- ITV2, ItvBe, ITV3, ITV4 & CITV.
Some of Paul’s recent commissions include Don’t Hate the Playaz, The Stand Up Sketch Show and Hey Tracey! for ITV2, Gemma Collins: Diva Forever and The Real Housewives of Jersey for ItvBe and The Rubbish World of Dave Spud for CITV.
Love Island is currently the biggest show in Paul’s charge, a programme that has driven ITV2’s growth amongst younger audiences. In 2019, ITV2 returned its best ever year for 16-34yr olds. Last summer, Love Island reached 6.3m under 35’s and prompted 154 million programme requests on the ITV Hub.
Before joining ITV in 2012, Paul spent five years at Channel 4, becoming the Head of E4. He has also worked for Channel 5 and Discovery but began his career at the ITV Network Centre in 1994.
MD / Creative Director, Synchronicity Films
Claire Mundell is a BAFTA and RTS award-winning screen executive and MD / Creative Director of Synchronicity Films. Synchronicity has an active slate of high-end international TV projects including a scripted adaptation of Hanif Kureishi’s The Body and a series based on the global hit and Sunday Times / New York Times bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Claire exec-produced the BAFTA winning and International Emmy nominated BBC One series, The Cry, a psychological thriller starring Jenna Coleman, adapted from Helen FitzGerald’s novel by Jacquelin Perske, which debuted to critical acclaim and a UK overnight audience of 7.3m.
Credits include; Karen Gillan's directorial debut, The Party's Just Beginning; modern-day love story and BIFA / BAFTA nominated Only You starring Laia Costa and Josh O'Connor, written and directed by Harry Wootliff, produced in collaboration with The Bureau; double BIFA- winning, Weekend, written and directed by Andrew Haigh; Not Another Happy Ending starring Karen Gillan; and BAFTA Scotland Best Film Crying With Laughter, written and directed by Justin Molotnikov.
Prior to establishing Synchronicity Claire spent over 10 years at the BBC as both Head of CBBC Scotland and an Executive Producer in BBC Drama. Claire is a former BAFTA Scotland Chair and Council Member / Board Director of PACT.
Nigel has worked as a Natural History film-maker for 25 years. Creating landmark Natural History hits such as Springwatch, Big Cat Week, Secret Life of Elephants and Hebrides – Islands on the Edge.
He’s also worked with gorillas in the Congo, Polar Bears in Arctic Canada, Orangutans in Borneo and Ospreys in Scotland. Trained at the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit Nigel is a multi-award winning producer known for his creative and innovative flair.
He left the BBC to co found Maramedia with Jackie Savery in 2008 which has won and been nominated for Wildscreen, Jackson Hole, RTS, BAFTA and Emmy awards attracting some of the best talent in the industry.
Nigel also specializes in Children’s TV and in 2017 created popular CBeebies character – Gudrun the Viking Princess. His company Maramedia is currently producing international Nordic-style wildlife epic Stormborn with Blue Ant Media, Smithsonian channel, BBC Scotland, Arte and Screen Scotland. Marakids is in production with pre-school drama Olga da Polga, based on Michael Bond’s loveable guinea pig character.
Head of Diversity, ITV Commissioning
Ade Rawcliffe is Head of Diversity for ITV Commissioning and is responsible for delivering ITV’s on-going commitment to reflecting the diversity of modern Britain at the heart of mainstream television, both onscreen and behind the camera.
Prior to that, Ade led the Creative Diversity team at Channel 4 and spearheaded the delivery of the broadcaster’s 360° Diversity Charter. She oversaw the creation of C4’s Commissioning Diversity Guidelines and developed projects through diverse funding vehicle the Alpha Fund, including the BAFTA award winning drama Run.
Rawcliffe was also part of the team responsible for C4’s coverage of Rio 2016 Paralympics and London 2012 Paralympics, which broke records for employing disabled presenters and production staff.
Ade also worked in the Features commissioning team at C4 and was a Television Producer at the BBC, ITV and in the independent sector.
She is a member of BAFTA’s TV Committee, a Board Member of Women in Film & Television (WFTV) and Times Up UK and a Trustee of the National Trust.
Managing Director, Nations and Regions, Channel 4
Sinead Rocks is Channel 4’s Managing Director, Nations and Regions, and is the lead executive based at its National HQ in Leeds, overseeing the operation of the broadcaster’s newly created Creative Hubs in Glasgow and Bristol.
In this role, Sinead is responsible for developing new relationships and opportunities for Nations & Regions producers, talent and stakeholders and will play a pivotal role as Channel 4 increases its commitment to spend on regional production from 35% to 50% of main channel UK commissions by 2023, worth up to an additional £250m in total.
Sinead started her career as a journalist at BBC Northern Ireland before joining BBC Children’s to work on the launch of the CBBC channel. She is a former editor of Newsround as well as Executive Producer for BBC Current Affairs where she headed up the Manchester network unit and led the team making content for The One Show, Panorama, documentaries for BBC Three and also launched the Rip Off Britain franchise.
Her last role for the BBC was as Director of Education; driving the organisation’s education strategy and overseeing a range of output across TV, radio and online including BBC Bitesize & BBC Food. In summer 2019 she moved to Channel 4 to lead on the delivery of its 4 All The UK strategy.
Chief Executive, Voltage
Sanjay is an award-winning executive producer with more than 20 years’ experience of programme-making. He spent nearly 15 years at the BBC, and was MD of leading factual indie, Dragonfly Film and TV.
At Voltage he has overseen a wide-ranging slate of ideas and productions including the BAFTA nominated One Deadly Weekend in America (BBC Three), Life Inside Jail (ITV), Inside the Factory (BBC Two).
Development Producer, Synchronicity Films
Ruth is Synchronicity Film’s Melbourne-based Development Producer. Ruth was an integral part of the script team on Synchronicity's BBC/ ABC show The Cry. Since then, Ruth has been working to extend Synchronicity’s network in the Southern Hemisphere, building relationships with Australia’s significant writing talent, and developing projects for their blossoming international slate.
Ruth played a key role in Synchronicity’s acquisition of the screen rights to Sunday Times and New York Times best-seller The Tattooist of Auschwitz and is now working closely with screenwriter, Jacquelin Perske, on the adaptation.
Previously in the UK Ruth was a Script Editor, Development Executive, Assistant Producer and Story Producer for STV Productions, Shed Productions, BBC and Kudos – her credits include Taggart, Waterloo Road, Stonemouth and Clique. Ruth and Synchronicity MD/ Creative Director Claire Mundell first worked together in BBC Drama in Scotland.
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.
Karl Warner is controller of E4, where he leads the creative vision and commissioning for the youth channel brand. In his role Karl also oversees, 4Music, as well as the six channels that fall under the Box Plus network, (The Box, Box Upfront, Box Hits, Kiss, Magic and Kerrang) and is the lead on Channel 4’s online content strand for teenagers, which will be distributed on YouTube and social media.
Prior to joining Channel 4 he was the co-Managing Director of producers, Electric Ray, a joint-venture with Sony Pictures Television which was launched in January 2014. Electric Ray commissions include The Class of 92, Million Pound Menu, Alone at Home and Bromans. Prior to launching Electric Ray, Karl was a commissioning editor at the BBC, where he commissioned a range of shows including, Undercover Princes, Russell Howard’s Good News and Junior Doctors for BBC Three and John Bishop’s Britain, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Live at the Apollo for BBC One.
Before joining the BBC, Karl was Head of Development at Monkey Kingdom.
Want to join us in Glasgow? Get your tickets here!