Jackie Edwards has been appointed as Head of Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), a major new pilot being delivered by the BFI as part of the UK Government’s support for distinct, high-quality content for children and young audiences to be broadcast on UK Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) channels and platforms.
Edwards will join the BFI in February and will be based in Leeds, with the Fund opening for applications in April. The Fund is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Contestable Fund and assigns the BFI up to £57 million to deliver a three year pilot. Edwards will report to BFI Deputy CEO, Ben Roberts, and work on the final design and implementation of the Fund.
Edwards has been the BBC’s Head of Children’s Acquisitions and Independent Animation since 2015, delivering programming for 0-16 year olds. As well as overseeing the strategy for her department, Edwards was responsible for pre-buying and acquiring live action and animated programming. She joined the BBC in 2008 as CBeebies Content Manager and later as Executive Producer, working on programmes including Tree Fu Tom, Octonauts, Bing, Rastamouse and Clangers.
Prior to the BBC, Edwards was a freelancer, working on the development, finance and production of shows for a variety of companies such as LEGO, CBBC, Three Stones Media and Mackinnon & Saunders. She started her television career in animation in 1995 as a production assistant with Hibbert Ralph Entertainment (later Silver Fox Films), going on to produce many prestigious specials and award-winning series.
Ben Roberts, BFI’s Deputy CEO said: “Jackie’s passion for public service broadcasting, and her extensive experience in original and high quality programmes for young people of all ages, made her the perfect choice to help us shape and deliver the Fund. The landscape for television audiences is evolving at speed, but the appetite for innovative, relevant material which speaks to today’s young people feels as strong as ever. In supporting the UK’s world class indie sector, and working with broadcasters, I’m confident that Jackie and her new team will create something potentially game changing.”
Jackie Edwards said: “While I will be sad to leave BBC Children’s, the role of Head of Young Audiences Content Fund was simply irresistible as it presents a unique opportunity to revivify and diversify the kids public service broadcast landscape in the UK.”
John McVay OBE, Chief Executive, Pact said: “Pact welcomes the appointment of Jackie Edwards to this key role in the BFI. Jackie’s experience, passion and understanding of children’s production is exemplary and her recent experience of working with one of the world’s leading children’s channels should give the broader industry confidence that this vital funding will be spent in a way that supports creativity, commercial opportunity and help increase the number and range of programmes available for UK children to enjoy.”
The YACF aims to stimulate the creation of content for children and young audiences (up to the age of 18) that entertains, informs and reflects their experiences of growing up across the UK today. It will support original programming, in both live-action and animation, and across genres including education, fiction and drama, arts and culture, factual, and religion. The Fund will offer production funding for projects which have secured a broadcast commitment from a UK Public Service Broadcaster to make the programme available to a UK audience on a free-to-access, Ofcom-regulated service. Development funding will be available to support new voices and emerging producers, for which a broadcaster commitment is not necessary. One of the priorities of the Fund is to support content which is reflective of UK cultural identity and the nations and regions – both on screen and off screen – with a commitment to support content in UK indigenous languages.