Media release: BBC Scotland director, Donalda MacKinnon, to stand down


BBC Scotland director, Donalda MacKinnon, is to stand down as the Corporation’s Scottish leader – after four years in the role and 33 years with the broadcaster.

Speaking to staff at the BBC Studios in Pacific Quay today (Tuesday), the BBC’s senior figure in Scotland said she believed that having ushered in the biggest-ever programme investment here, including the launch of a new TV channel, the time is now right for her to pass on the director’s baton.

She said: “Reflecting back on all that we have achieved, and with complete certainty that we are in strong shape for the future, I’ve decided that this is the right time for me to stand down and allow a new leader to take you all to the next stage.

“It has not been an easy decision for me to leave this job, a brilliant team and the best colleagues and friends I could have wished to have… but I am sure that this is the right moment for me and for all of us.”

The BBC’s director-general, Tony Hall, and Nations and Regions director, Ken MacQuarrie, praised Donalda’s contribution to the BBC and wider creative industry.

Said Tony Hall: “Donalda has been a hugely valued colleague and friend. She has achieved an enormous amount in her time at the BBC and been a passionate advocate both for the BBC in
Scotland – and for Scotland’s interests inside the organisation.

“And beyond that, as a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion, Donalda has used her warmth and openness to bring about changes to the whole organisation, designed to make the BBC a great place in which to work for women and all.

“We’ll miss her – but we wish her a very happy retirement.”

Added Ken MacQuarrie: “Donalda’s passion for programme making, particularly from and about Scotland, has always shone in the many different parts of the BBC she’s worked in. She’s continued
to champion this in both English language and Gaelic output in her role as director of BBC Scotland, while also bringing her vision, empathy and a real resolve to pushing culture change within the organisation.”

Having had the privilege of many years of BBC service across a wide range of areas, Ms MacKinnon said she’d planned from the outset when taking on the director’s role four years ago that she would leave this year when she turned 60.

“It will be a milestone year for me and I’m keen, for family and personal reasons, to get some time back,” she concluded.

The search for a successor will begin immediately and Ms MacKinnon has said she will remain in post until the autumn to allow for a smooth handover.

Reflecting on her time in charge, she said that in addition to seeing increased programme investment and the addition of scores of new research and development jobs as Pacific Quay was earmarked as a BBC centre of excellence for technology, she’d been particularly proud of helping reshape the Corporation’s culture and enhancing career progression for women.

She continued: “I am pleased to see real progress being made following my report on career progression and hope it will lead to lasting change for women at the BBC in the years to come.”

Notes for editors:

The first female director of BBC Scotland, Donalda was formerly head of Programmes and Services (radio, television and digital) and prior to that, headed up Children’s and Gaelic services. She has also overseen partnerships and external relationships on behalf of the BBC in Scotland and has been sponsor of the BBC’s presence at the Edinburgh festivals.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, she completed a post-graduate diploma and began her career as a teacher before joining the BBC.

She has also been a passionate advocate of programme making in and from Scotland by in-house teams and independent production companies. The ongoing development of television, radio and digital services (responding to audience need and consumption) as well as the growth of network output for audiences across the UK have been key elements of her strategy.

She is a member of BBC Nations and Regions board, chair of BBC Scotland executive board and a former trustee on the Board of BBC Children in Need. Industry body membership has included Royal Television Society, Scotland and BAFTA. She has sat on the Skills Development Scotland, apprenticeship advisory board and has served on Third sector boards as a governor as well as a school board chair.

She is married with a daughter and twin sons (all now in their 20s).

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