Francesca Unsworth has been appointed Director of the BBC World Service Group, replacing Peter Horrocks.
Fran becomes the first female director in the 82-year history of the World Service and will take up her new post on 8 December 2014. Peter Horrocks announced earlier this year that he was leaving the BBC.
Fran began her journalistic career in 1980 in BBC Local Radio in Bristol and Leicester before joining Radio 1’s Newsbeat. She spent a spell as a network radio producer in Washington DC and later joined Radio 4’s The World At One and PM.
Fran was appointed the BBC’s Home News Editor and then, in 2001, Head of Political Programmes. In 2005 she became Head of Newsgathering, running one of the world’s largest newsgathering operations with bureaux across the world.
Between November 2012 and August 2013 Fran was the BBC’s Acting Director of News and Current Affairs. She is currently Deputy Director of BBC News and Current Affairs – a role which she will continue.
Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, said: “I have known Fran since she joined the BBC and watched in admiration as she has become that rarest of things: a lifelong BBC insider who thinks like an outsider. Her range of skills and experience combined with a quite exceptional gift for management makes her exactly the right person to take over the enormously important job of directing the World Service Group. I am thrilled with her appointment.”
Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, James Harding, said: “Fran embodies the best of the BBC: she is thoughtful and enabling, tireless and determined, interesting and smart. Fran is already known for her record in fighting for journalistic freedom and free expression. I know she will prove an inspiring and respected director of the World Service, inside the BBC, in Britain and around the world.”
Fran Unsworth said: “Today is the proudest day of my professional life. I do not take on lightly the responsibility of looking after a part of the BBC with such a proud history. I promise to be the guardian of the best of the BBC’s values of independence, impartiality and fairness in our international services, while continuing the successful modernisation of the World Service Group to take our journalism to new audiences worldwide.”ember 2014. She replaces Peter Horrocks, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving the BBC.