BBC Studios Documentary Unit revamps its structure

Beth Ambrose, Sonia Sohal and James W Newton to join the unit as Head of Production, Head of Development and Senior Executive Producer respectively.

11 JUN 2024

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Georgia Moseley, Head of BBC Studios’ The Documentary Unit and Katharine Patrick, Senior Creative Director announced three new appointments to their senior team. Beth Ambrose, Sonia Sohal and James W Newton will join the unit as Head of Production, Head of Development and Senior Executive Producer respectively.

Beth Ambrose, who joins as Head of Production, started her career in the indie sector at Fremantle then joined the BBC working across an array of factual programming from “Louis Theroux” to “The One Show”, “Imagine” to “Planet Dinosaur”. She’s also made feature length dramas such as “The Whale” and Simon Amstell’s “Carnage”, and spent time at BBC Comedy. After four years as Head of Production at Bohemia Films making documentaries such as “Bent Coppers” for BBC Two and “The Festival That Rocked the World” for Sky, she returned to the BBC and has Line Produced and Production Exec’d a range of titles in Science and the NHU including “Our Universe” for Netflix and “Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster” for BBC One.

Sonia Sohal joins the unit as Head of Development from Story Films where she was brought in to drive the new popular factual side of documentaries at the company. Prior to joining Story Films, she was Head of Development at start-up indie, Great Scott Media, and before that was Development Executive at Raw, working with the senior leadership team to grow a slate of documentary formats. With a strong track record of developing documentaries and factual formats, she has credits such as “Surviving Paradise” (Netflix), “Joanna Lumley’s India” (ITV), “Child Genius” (C4), “Fantastical Factory of Curious Craft” (C4), and “Uncharted“ (Nat Geo), Sohal brings a wealth of experience building diverse, (cross-genre), and ambitious ideas for broadcasters and streamers in the UK and beyond.

Joining as Senior Executive Producer is James W Newton a BAFTA, RTS and Grierson nominated director and executive producer. Recent work includes “Evacuation” for Channel 4 which premiered at Sheffield DocFest. Newton also executive produced “Super Surgeons: A Chance At Life”, as well as devising narrative product placement for the series partner “Macmillan Cancer Support” and leading a team to create original branded idents. Newton received a Factual Director BAFTA nomination for “Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles”, a critically acclaimed pregnancy series told through the eyes of the women and medical teams who treat them. He has executive produced “The Kidnap of Angel Lynn”, for Channel 4, which won Outstanding Documentary Film at the True Crime Awards.

Beth Ambrose said: “I am thrilled to be joining such an ambitious, hard-working and creative team. The work of The Documentary Unit is so wide ranging and embraces such a wealth of expertise in developing and making complex, hard-hitting and inspiring content. I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of its future.”

Sonia Sohal added: “I couldn't turn down the opportunity to join the new-look unit with the creative aspiration to generate new and innovative content through a range of documentary forms. I'm incredibly excited about building a diverse and ambitious slate with some brilliantly talented people."

James W Newton stated: “It is a privilege working with amazing people, because the films we make are a product of the teams we build. The best projects come when we work together, to create a vision for original storytelling. Through extraordinary characters, we can then shed new light on our increasingly complex world. I’m incredibly excited to be working on long-term access at the Docs Unit, and to be a part of their brave new strategy.”

The new appointments join BBC Studios Documentary Unit renowned for exploring storytelling in all its forms, from institutional access and compelling human stories, observational singles and series, to bold and innovative constructed and popular factual formats.  Spanning three bases across the UK in London, Cardiff and Salford, programmes include the BAFTA, RTS and Broadcast award winning “Scam Interceptors”, BAFTA winning “Life and Death Row”, “Finding Sarah: The Search for Justice”, “Murder Case: The Digital Detectives”, “The Met”, “Crimewatch Live”, and “Rip Off Britain”, in the summer.