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Team for £57m Young Audiences Content Fund is announced

Jackie Edwards

The BFI has revealed the team that will deliver the three-year £57m Young Audiences Content Fund.

The Leeds-based Fund has been devised to support the creation of high-quality new programming for children and young audiences up to the age of 18.

It aims to directly address a historic lack of investment in content creation for this age group and is financed by the UK Government as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Contestable Fund.

Jackie Edwards, the former BBC head of children’s acquisitions and animation, will head the Fund. Her team will be:

  • John Knowles (Executive – Production) – a Bafta nominated children’s TV producer who joins from BBC Children’s, where he was In-House Development Producer for Animation and Puppetry.
  • Harriet Williams (Executive – Development) – joins from the Original Programming team at Disney Channel EMEA, where she worked on the development and production of scripted live action series.
  • Hesham Sabry (Business Affairs Executive) – comes from the BBC, where he was he worked in the commercial, rights and business affairs team as a manager across the full range of output for six years. 
  • Gill Biddle (Project Manager) – previously worked in Project and Production Management on titles for the BBC, ITV, the Smithsonian Channel and National Geographic.
  • Chandan Shergill (Fund Co-ordinator) comes from the public and charity sector and previously worked in a factual talent agency, working across numerous children’s shows and live events.
  • Aisha Jan (Administrator) – previously worked as Marketing Assistant for Sheffield Doc/Fest.

The Fund will have bases in Leeds and Manchester, whilst also utilising the BFI’s existing UK-wide infrastructure and network of partners to ensure that the YACF team are accessible to talent and commissioners all over the UK.

Edwards said: “I am thrilled to have recruited such a strong team – their experience and expertise will enable us to reach and support talent right across the UK. This Fund provides a fantastic opportunity for independent producers working in young people’s programming.

“I’ve had really positive conversations with the broadcasters, who are engaged and keen to commission new content, so I’m hugely excited about the potential of creating brilliant shows that will connect with their intended audience, who have for so long been underserved.”

Minister for Digital and Creative Industries Margot James added: “Young people in the UK deserve high quality content that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences growing up across the country today.

“The UK’s broadcast sectors reach hundreds of millions of people of all ages around the globe and are a tremendous success story that we are justifiably proud of. This innovative project is an integral part of our ongoing support for the UK’s vibrant media sector which we want to see go from strength to strength, and the BFI have put a great team in place to deliver this.”

The YACF is now open for applications, seeking projects which will entertain, inform and reflect young audiences’ experiences of growing up across the UK today.

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