Helen Thomas appointed Director of BBC England

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin
Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas has been appointed Director of BBC England – a new role created as part of the Corporation’s push to better serve all the UK’s Nations and Regions.

She will be in charge of the BBC’s output in England across all platforms, including 13 regional television services, 39 Local Radio stations and online services. Additional responsibilities will include representing the BBC externally and ensuring the country is represented within the Corporation.

Thomas first joined the BBC in 1985 following a stint in commercial radio. After a career break to have children , shereturned to work at ITV’s Yorkshire Television.

In 1999 she re-joined the BBC as editor of BBC Radio Humberside, before being promoted to Head of Regional and Local Programming in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Her remit was eventually extended across the whole of Yorkshire.

Thomas, who lives in York, is currently leading work to reinvent BBC Local Radio. 

She said: “I feel very lucky to be given this exciting new role to lead the BBC’s work in England. It’s so important that we serve and reflect all of the country’s diverse communities. England is a complex, changing place and the BBC needs to evolve our offer to ensure we are providing the best services possible to people across the country.

“In the last year, I’ve been focusing on how to reinvent Local Radio so that it better reflects our communities, nurtures new talent and brings people together through new partnerships and engaging content. This work will continue and I hope to extend it right across everything the BBC does in England. I’m looking forward to making creative, compelling content that entertains and informs all our audiences.”   

The role of Director of England replaces the role of Controller of BBC English Regions. David Holdsworth, the current Controller of BBC English Regions, has chosen to leave the BBC after 34 years. 

Ken MacQuarrie, BBC Director of Nations and Regions, added: “We’ve made a big commitment to better serve the Nations and Regions and represent the diversity of the UK. This new role will be central to that work by providing strategic direction and overall leadership in England across all platforms.

“Helen brings with her a wealth of skills and experience, as a journalist, programme-maker and leader. She is a creative, innovative thinker who has a track record of forging new partnerships and championing content that reaches new audiences.

"Through her work on the reinvention of Local Radio to leading our biggest English region, Yorkshire, she has shown she is passionate about serving all of our communities and making content that reflects and represents our audiences. I know she will do a fantastic job.  

“I would like to thank David Holdsworth, who leaves the BBC this week, for his outstanding service over more than three decades. He has provided brilliant leadership to our teams across England.”