National Geographic names Tom McDonald as VP of global factual and unscripted

Upon assuming his role in June, the executive will be tasked with leading the development and production of all global unscripted series and specials across all programming categories and formats.

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National Geographic has appointed Senior BBC executive Tom McDonald as eExecutive VP of global factual and unscripted content. The appointment, effective in June, was announced today by Courteney Monroe, President of National Geographic Content, to whom McDonald will report.“I have known and admired Tom for quite some time and could not be more thrilled he is joining our team as we expand our programming ambitions to help drive the global growth of Disney+," Monroe said.

Under his new role, McDonald will be responsible for leading the development and production of all global unscripted series and specials across all programming categories and formats, including travel, adventure, exploration, history, science and natural history – that feed Disney+ and Nat Geo’s linear channels. Bernstein will continue to oversee National Geographic Documentary Films.

McDonald’s will oversee various teams, which include Alan Eyres, senior VP of development and production for unscripted; Janet Vissering, senior VP of development and production for Wildlife and Natural History; and Michelle Upton, senior VP of production management. He joins Carolyn Bernstein, executive VP of scripted and feature documentaries, as Monroe’s senior creative team.

The executive most recently contributed to BBC Studios, where he served as  managing director of factual productions, overseeing the creative and commercial strategy for the genre, a staff of more than 500 people and over 300 hours of programming per year. Recent credits for the division include natural history series "The Green Planet" and science series "Universe" for the BBC.  “Tom is a brilliant creative executive with extraordinary vision and impeccable taste," Monroe said. "Having spent a decade at the BBC creating premium, genre-defining factual content, Tom is the perfect person to lead our efforts to produce best-in-class, must-see National Geographic content."

Prior to joining BBC Studios, McDonald spent more than seven years in the factual commissioning department of BBC Content, latterly as head of natural history and specialist factual commissioning. Before that he worked in the UK’s indie production sector. “It has been a privilege to work at the BBC, but the chance to join Courteney and her team at this pivotal moment in National Geographic’s evolution is an opportunity that was impossible to turn down," McDonald added. "As I relocate to the US and start a new chapter, I feel excited and energised by the opportunity to elevate National Geographic content across the Disney ecosystem. I cannot wait to get started.”

I have known and admired Tom for quite some time and could not be more thrilled he is joining our team as we expand our programming ambitions to help drive the global growth of Disney+.” Courteney Monroe President of National Geographic Content