Former Hollyoaks producer Bryan Kirkwood, to take over Eastenders

by Lisa McGarry

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Bryan Kirkwood will succeed Diederick Santer as EastEnders Executive Producer following his decision to step down from the role in February 2010.

He will take over from Santer next year after EastEnders celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Kirkwood comes to EastEnders having spent three years producing Hollyoaks, during which time the show enjoyed awards success and soaring popularity.

Since moving on at the end of 2008 Kirkwood has been producing its sister show Hollyoaks Later.

Prior to his time at Lime Television, Kirkwood spent 10 years working on Coronation Street as a storyliner, where he developed a love and talent for storytelling and characterisation.

Bryan says of his appointment: “I’m a huge soap fan so for me to be the new Executive Producer of EastEnders is a dream come true.

“Diederick Santer has done an amazing job and I’ll be taking over a show at the top of its game – quite a daunting task but one I can’t wait to get started on.”

Diederick Santer has been EastEnders Executive Producer since October 2006 and he also sits on the board of BBC Drama Production.

During his time Santer been credited with taking EastEnders to the peak of its powers, producing a show with brave and compelling storylines.

Under his guidance EastEnders has swept the board at awards ceremonies, continuously leading the way as Best Soap and Continuing Drama in the National Television, RTS, British Soap, Inside Soap and many other awards.

He also recently announced the launch of an online spin off, E20, to further heighten the show’s reach and appeal.

Santer has been responsible for the creation of the Mitchell Sisters and the Masood family, plus the long-awaited return of Ricky and Bianca.

Stories about paedophilia and bipolar have drawn wide praise for their power, responsibility and accuracy, and Santer’s apocalyptic 2007 Christmas Day episode featuring the reveal of Max and Stacey’s affair was the most-watched TV programme that year with 14.38 million viewers.

Santer will continue working for BBC Drama Production as an Executive Producer with a special responsibility for developing new shows that can be internationally co-produced.

The aim will be for him to identify and develop dramas that can be made through BBC Drama Production in conjunction with BBC WorldWide Los Angeles.

Diederick Santer says of his departure: “I’ve had the most fantastic time at EastEnders. It’s without doubt the best job in telly, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

“It’s a busy and challenging job so I’m now looking forward to becoming reacquainted with my family and friends.

“I’m grateful to all the people I’ve collaborated with over the last three years who work so hard and so creatively. It’s been a real pleasure to work with them and to get to know them, and I’m going to miss them all enormously.

“I’m delighted that I’m passing the show on to Bryan Kirkwood. He’s a vastly talented and original producer with a brilliant storylining mind.

“I’m confident that, under him, EastEnders will continue to thrive and to grow and to keep delivering the very best drama to its massive audience.”

John Yorke, BBC Controller Drama Production & New Talent, adds: “Diederick has presided over an incredibly strong period in the show’s history and demonstrated an instinctive mastery of what makes the programme such a success.

“Able to switch from brave and radical public service storytelling to big sweeping set pieces, he has been concerned only to get the best out of those around him and to match the highest standards of the programme’s founders.

“Leaving EastEnders fighting fit and at the top of its game as it reaches its quarter century, he’ll be missed hugely by cast and crew. He’s going to be a very hard to act to follow but I’m confident Bryan is the right man for the job.”