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Meet the Team 


Helen O’Donnell - Head of Development

Helen’s role builds on her success in creating and launching new content with digital creators including, Dan Howell, Joe Sugg, DanTDM, Mariam Musa, Adeola Patronne, Joe Wicks, and Sam and Nic Chapman.

Championing youth within the organisation, Helen chairs the BBC Studios Next Generation Board, aimed at re-inventing the BBC for the next generation, and she is an advisory board member and speaker at Vidcon. She is currently being mentored by Jay Hunt, Creative Director, Europe, Apple, as part of the annual Women in Film and TV Mentoring scheme.

Paul Hembury

Paul's career has spanned programming and acquisitions, commissioning and development. He developed commercially viable content with the best talent in the business as Director of Entertainment Talent at BBC Studios.

He is an advocate for digital platforms as a gateway to finding raw talent who may not have had the means to be discovered in the past. Paul is an advisory board member at Vidcon, the world's largest celebration of digital video and online creators.

Katrina Bell – Senior Development Producer

A proud Glaswegian, Katrina has enjoyed a diverse career that spans numerous creative industries.

The co-executive producer on the BBC Sounds/1Xtra podcast Pressed, which has held the highest proportion of under 35’s listeners across the network since its launch in July 2021, Katrina is a development producer with a demonstrated history of collaboration, entrepreneurship and creativity. She works cross-genre and cross-platform (podcasts, books, live shows and long-form content) on developing ideas with top-level talent.

She led recent development activity with Pinterest, to uncover new stories and storytellers in the Factual Entertainment space.

Sarah Farrow – Head of Talent

Sarah specialises in working with unscripted onscreen talent, supporting up and coming creators, be it journalists, scientists, chefs, or natural history experts, develop their careers.  She also continues to work with some of BBC Studios most established UK presenters across commercial activity such as live events and international promotion.

Her career began at 19 Entertainment where she managed ancillary and commercial partnerships with the company’s portfolio of global talent and brands, such as American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and The Spice Girls.

Shukri Dirie - Development Coordinator

Shukri is the Development Coordinator, working across the whole of the TalentWorks slate. Prior to joining BBC Studios, Shukri worked in film publicity and marketing, on major campaigns including The Lost Daughter, Jojo Rabbit and Bohemian Rhapsody at Netflix, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures. She enjoys writing and is currently working on her own mini-series. She is passionate about creative storytelling and bringing diverse stories to the forefront.

Scripted Specialists

Deborah Sathe - Senior Production Creative Director (Drama)

Deborah started her career as a theatre director and producer before moving to the BBC to set up the Asian Network’s soap opera Silver Street. From radio Deborah moved to BBC television as diversity producer setting up and running three series of the award winning EastEnders E20 before becoming Story producer for EastEnders. Deborah moved into the world of feature films as Head of Talent Development and Production for Film London, delivering domestic and international film training as well as running feature film funds. Deborah moved from Film London to Cinestaan International Film Studios, making and selling feature films for both the international and domestic markets including Bollywood smash hit Gully Boy, Oscar nominated Cold War, and critically acclaimed animation Bombay Rose. Deborah returned to BBC studios in November 2019 where she is now the Creative Director, overseeing the soaps, medical shows and cosy crimes, as well as a slate of new productions in various stages of development. Deborah also oversees training for scripted at BBC Studios.

Kris Green - Training Executive (Drama)

Kris joined EastEnders in 2010 as a storyliner, before moving to the Script team where he became Senior Script Producer. He went on to produce two episodes of Casualty, before joining the Drama team as Training Executive. Kris is responsible for the training strategy for all on and off-screen talent across the portfolio.

Tom Williams - Head of Development (Drama)

Tom began his career at the BBC where he worked across story and script for the likes EastEnders and Doctors, before going on to script edit the first series of The Man in the High Castle for Amazon. He worked in a number a development roles for the likes of 42 and Wall to Wall, contributing to productions such as Julian Fellowes’ The English Game for Netflix. More recently, he worked on Amazon’s Ten Percent for Bron/Headline, before becoming a Drama commissioner for Apple.

Sarah Creasey - Senior Development Producer (Drama)

Sarah is an experienced editorial Producer who has worked extensively across Holby City and EastEnders, as well as shows including Ripper Street and Love & Marriage for Tiger Aspect. She now runs the CDS Drama slate as Senior Development Producer under Deborah Sathe and Kate Oates.

Neil Irvine - Exec Producer (Father Brown/Sister Boniface)

Neil began his career script editing Doctors, Holby City, Land Girls and Father Brown, now in its 11th series. More recently he developed Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, Sister Boniface Mysteries and an adaptation of The Canterville Ghost. He is currently developing new projects alongside his role as Executive Producer of Father Brown and Sister Boniface Mysteries.

Jill McCracken - Development Manager (Drama & Comedy)

Jill is our Scripted Development Editor and Manager. She works across BBC Studios Comedy and Drama productions and specialises in identifying new Intellectual Property, worlds, and stories for adaptation into scripted programmes.

Suzy Cripps - Development Producer (Drama)

Suzy develops series for BBC Studios Drama and helps run The Writer Spotlight. She’s previously worked with Soilsiú Films, Dramadan and Mammoth Screen.  

Victoria Barber - Development Editor (Drama)

Victoria is part of the team that runs The Writer Spotlight. She also works across the BBC Studios Drama slate, identifying and developing series ideas. Victoria has worked for Euston Films, Mammoth Screen, and BAFTA Rocliffe.

Lizzie Melbourne - Development & Production Coordinator (Drama)

Lizzie Melbourne joined BBC Studios in 2022. Prior to that, she worked in theatre developing emerging new artists and was included in ‘The Stage 100’ for her work with the National Student Drama Festival.

Tia Welsh - Team Assistant (Drama)

After studying Creative Writing at York St John University in 2019, Tia took the plunge into the HETV and Film landscape in 2022 to pursue her love for literature and the big screen. She moved from the Isle of Man to London to work as the Office Runner for BBC Indie, Moonage Pictures (Bodies, The Gentleman, Famous Five) for the next 12 months, helping to support Executive Producers Will Gould (Peaky Blinders), Matthew Read (Happy Valley) and Frith Tiplady (Peaky Blinders).

Tia will provide support across development and production, acting as the key focal point of contact for the drama team. She is currently working on her own personal slate of writing projects.  

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