BBC director of news Fran Unsworth to step down

Outgoing boss says it has been a ‘great privilege’ to work at corporation

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 07 September 2021 12:46

The BBC's director of news and current affairs is to step down from her role next year, it has been announced.

Fran Unsworth, who took up the role in 2018, will leave at the end of January 2022.

"I have had a ringside seat at some momentous events, including the Falklands War, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, wars in the Middle East, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11 and countless general elections," Ms Unsworth said in a statement.

"It has been a great privilege."

She added: "The jobs I've done have not always been easy. Undoubtedly, some were more fun than others. But I am proud to have done all of them - and to work for an organisation which has such a vital and precious role in the UK and around the world.

"The BBC is free of commercial and proprietorial pressure. Our bosses are the audiences we serve. I am honoured to have been be part of it."

Ms Unsworth has worked at the BBC for over 40 years, starting her career with Radio 1 in 1980.

Her previous roles have included BBC home news editor, head of political programmes, and head of newsgathering.

She was the BBC's acting director of news and current affairs for periods between 2012 and 2013 and became the first female director of the BBC World Service Group in 2014, overseeing the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s.

Tim Davie, the BBC's director-general, said Ms Unsworth had throughout her career, "embodied the values of BBC News".

"She is a world-class journalist and is respected and admired by colleagues across the BBC," he said.

"Fran has taken BBC News through one of the most testing periods in its history, providing a vital service during the Covid-19 pandemic, when record audiences turned to BBC News.

"She has led BBC coverage during a period of momentous events at home and abroad, alongside leading a huge modernisation programme to reshape BBC News.

"Before this, as its director, she oversaw the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s, which has proved a major boost to international coverage at a time of great international need.

"Fran has been a hugely valued member of the BBC's executive committee and the BBC board. She will be greatly missed by everyone at the BBC."

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