BBC’s top drama executive to address Screen Forever: SPAA Conference

29 August, 2013 by IF


One of the most influential and successful drama executives in the world, Kate Harwood, Head of Drama Production, England for the BBC has been confirmed as a keynote speaker at Screen Forever, the 2013 SPAA Conference taking place at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre from 18 to 21 November. Harwood will speak on Tuesday, 19 November.


The BBC is probably the greatest public broadcaster in the world, with a reputation for quality drama that is second to none. Harwood joined the development team at the organisation 23 years ago and was a script editor for the BAFTA-winning drama Holding On seven years later. Since then she has risen through the organisation, as a producer (with credits including Charles II – The Power and The Passion and David Copperfield) and as an executive producer (Daniel Deronda and Crime And Punishment).

She was appointed Executive Producer of one of the Corporation’s prized programmes, EastEnders, in 2005. Now in its 28th year on television, and consistently one of the BBC’s highest-rated programmes, the EastEnders under Harwood’s oversight won a BAFTA and two National TV Awards.

In 2006, Harwood was appointed Head of Series and Serials for BBC Drama Production, then in 2008 was elevated to Controller, Series and Serials. Her leadership has delivered some of the most critically acclaimed and top-rated dramas of recent years, including Cranford, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Silent Witness, Luther and Silk. Forthcoming dramas include Quirke starring Gabriel Byrne, the critically acclaimed Burton and Taylor and The Musketeers, which is coming to the new premium BBC channel in 2014.

In December last year she was appointed Head of Drama Production, England giving her responsibility for all in-house drama series and serial production in London and Salford.

In her keynote address, Harwood will give a rare insight into in-house drama production at the BBC, as well as discuss the BBC’s recent moves to commission internationally. Deirdre Brennan, BBC Worldwide Australia & New Zealand’s Director of Content will interview Harwood and discuss the BBC’s most recent example with her – Jane Campion’s astonishing crime drama Top of The Lake, co-produced with UKTV in Australia & New Zealand and other international partners.

In addition to her keynote address, Harwood will also host a Briefing Roundtable (where a small number of delegates can meet up with individual industry leaders to learn more about their business practices), and will participate in the International Partnership Market (a new event at this year’s conference that matches local producers with their international counterparts interested in co-productions and as well as meetings with distributors, financiers and international sales agents).

Harwood’s participation in Screen Forever: SPAA Conference contributes to of one of the three themes of this year’s event – The Craft. With her background in script editing and vast experience producing across a wide range of genres – from Victorian classics to thrillers and contemporary legal dramas, from long-running serials to short-run groundbreaking dramas – Harwood will provide a valuable insight into the nature of UK television and the BBC’s highly successful creative process.