Helen Thomas has been appointed director of BBC England, a new role designed to “better reflect all of the UK’s nations and regions”, the corporation has announced.
Thomas will have “direct editorial and operational responsibility” across all non-networked TV, online and radio output in England, including regional news programmes such as Look North and Points West.
The role was created to bring England in line with other UK nations, all of which are already led by BBC directors.
It replaces the controller of BBC English regions role, from which David Holdsworth has stepped down after 34 years at the BBC.
Thomas said: “It’s so important that we serve and reflect all of the country’s diverse communities.
“England is a complex, changing place and the BBC needs to evolve our offer to ensure we are providing the best services possible to people across the country.”
Thomas will be in charge of 13 regional TV services, 39 local radio stations, and regional and local online services. She will be tasked with ensuring England is represented within the BBC.
Thomas has worked for the BBC intermittently since 1985, including as editor of BBC Radio Humberside, head of regional and local programming in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and head of Yorkshire.
BBC director of nations and regions Ken MacQuarrie said: “We’ve made a big commitment to better serve the nations and regions and represent the diversity of the UK.
“[Thomas] is a creative, innovative thinker who has a track record of forging new partnerships and championing content that reaches new audiences.
“Through her work on the reinvention of local radio to leading our biggest English region, Yorkshire, she has shown she is passionate about serving all of our communities and making content that reflects and represents our audiences.”
MacQuarrie thanked Holdsworth “for his outstanding service over more than three decades” and “brilliant leadership to our teams across England”.