Valerie Bruce To Exit BBC Studios’ U.S. Division As ‘Ghosts’ Producer Restructures Production Teams

EXCLUSIVE: BBC Studios Productions, which is behind series such as ABC’s Dancing With The Stars and CBS’ Ghosts, is bringing together its U.S. and UK production teams in a restructure that will see the departure of Valerie Bruce.

The company, which is the commercial production division of the British public broadcaster, is aligning its U.S. unscripted entertainment and scripted teams, largely based out of LA, with their UK counterparts.

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As such, Bruce, who is General Manager of its LA Productions unit, is leaving after 13 years.

The move will see Ryan O’Dowd, EVP, Entertainment & Music, reporting directly to Matt Forde, BBC Studios Productions’ MD, Global Entertainment, who is based in London. O’Dowd, who is understood to have renewed his deal with BBC Studios, will now work closer with the company’s UK development team as it looks to develop more formats that can travel into the U.S. following the success of The 1% Club, which recently launched on Amazon Prime Video and Fox.

On the scripted side, the LA Scripted Programming team, which is run by Angie Stephenson and Rachel Bendavid, will report into LA-based Mark Linsey, who is President, Scripted, BBC Studios. This team will work closely with its UK partners and the BBC Studios North American Content Sales team, led in LA by Lawrence Szabo, EVP of US Content Sales.

Bruce joined the company in 2011 as SVP, Business Affairs for BBC America, where she worked on shows such as Orphan Black. In 2016, she joined the LA production team as SVP, Commercial Director, later promoted to EVP, Commercial Director and then General Manager, LA Productions.

She ran the team that produced Dancing with the Stars, Nat Geo’s Emmy-winning Life Below Zero, ABC’s When Nature Calls with Helen Mirren, Netflix docuseries Wrestlers and Murder Among the Mormons and Andy Cohen’s Ex-Rated on Peacock on the unscripted side.

On the scripted side, she led the team that produced CBS’ Ghosts, which is going into its fourth season, as well as Call Me Kat, a remake of Miranda, and Welcome To Flatch, a remake of This Country, for Fox.

She also led negotiations on BBC Studios’ first-look deal with Lionsgate in 2018, which Deadline revealed had ended earlier this year. After that deal ended, Bendavid moved over to BBC Studios joining long-time BBCS executive Stephenson to co-lead Scripted Programming in LA, both reporting to Bruce.

O’Dowd, who previously worked for Ryan Seacrest, was promoted in 2021 to EVP, Entertainment & Music and was behind the reboot of Weakest Link at NBC.

Matt Forde, MD, Global Entertainment, BBC Studios Productions, said, “In a fast moving and constantly changing business in both the UK and U.S., it makes sense to bring our Unscripted Entertainment and Scripted teams in Los Angeles closer to our UK teams to maximise the opportunities we’ve identified between both markets. I’d also like to pay tribute to Valerie who has driven significant commercial growth across all of our production activities in LA, including hit shows such as ABC/Disney’s Dancing with the Stars, Wrestlers for Netflix, the Life Below Zero franchise for Nat Geo, The Weakest Link on NBC, Ghosts on CBS and most recently The 1% Club on Amazon Prime/Fox. We wish her all the best.”

Mark Linsey, President, Scripted, BBC Studios Productions added, “Announcing a scripted production base in LA that is fully integrated with our production portfolio in London will hugely benefit our business.  As well as developing their own slate of ideas, Rachel and Angie will work closely with our UK Producers and the content sales team to find the best possible route for their content into LA and connect them with the unique talent across our drama and comedy units, labels and creative partners.”

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