BBC Studios Natural History Unit Head Julian Hector Steps Down

Julian Hector, head of the Natural History Unit at BBC Studios Productions, will step down at the end of the year after five years leading the unit, and almost three decades at the BBC.

Since taking over from Wendy Darke in 2016, Hector has overseen a stellar period in the Bristol, England-based production house’s 64-year history, with shows like “Planet Earth II,” “Blue Planet II,” “Dynasties” and “Seven Worlds, One Planet” proving global successes.

Under his leadership, the Natural History Unit (NHU) also won several new commissions, including the BBC’s “The Green Planet” and “Frozen Planet II,” Apple’s upcoming “The Year the Earth Changed,” National Geographic’s “Ocean Xplorers,” “Endangered” for Discovery, and “The Americas” for NBCU.

In the past four years the unit’s output has received more than 200 awards, including four Emmys and 11 BAFTA TV awards.

Hector began at the unit in 1993, producing series like “Battle of the Sexes” and “Wild Africa.” As editor of Natural History Radio he led the development and production of award-winning programs like “Tweet of the Day,” “World on the Move” and “Saving Species.” He went on to become an executive producer in television, producing hard-hitting “Ivory Wars” and “Tigers About the House.”

In 2019, the Natural History Unit and David Attenborough accepted the Chatham House Prize for the impact of “Blue Planet II” from the U.K.’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Following his departure from the unit, Hector will pursue other interests connected to wildlife and championing the natural world.

Tom McDonald, BBC Studios’ MD of factual, said: “During his tenure, he has put the natural world and the NHU’s people at the center of his thinking so his departure at the end of the year will be bittersweet. He has transformed the NHU, growing the business and transforming its culture. His legacy will be felt for many years to come – in our output, in the opening of NHU L.A. and in innumerable other ways.”

“It’s a wrench to leave the helm of the Natural History Unit after five wonderful years,” Hector added. “I feel honored to have led the world’s best wildlife filmmaking team in creating such hugely influential work. Rest assured I will continue to weave the natural world into all I do and will always champion the public service ideals of the BBC, surely one of the most important cultural and civilizing institutions in the world.”

BBC Studios’ search for Hector’s successor will begin immediately.

Hector is staying in his post until the end of year, at the earliest, allowing the BBC plenty of time to find a successor, and to have a smooth handover. He is not going to a competitor, or starting an indie production company, Variety understands.