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J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Taps BBC Vet Ben Stephenson to Head TV Department

Production company announces shakeups to roster along with new addition

Former BBC drama bigwig Ben Stephenson has joined J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot production company to lead its television department.

Stephenson, who previously served as controller, Drama Commissioning for the BBC, will oversee all aspects of development and production for the department, working from Los Angeles.

At the BBC, Stephenson was responsible for commissioning “Sherlock,” “The Missing,” “Luther” and other dramas. He also oversaw long-running series “Doctor Who” and “EastEnders.”

“It is a thrill to welcome Ben Stephenson into the Bad Robot family,” Abrams said of the new addition. “His love of great TV, his passion and respect for writers, and his remarkable taste are all in evidence through his groundbreaking work at the BBC. We can’t wait to work with Ben to tell engaging and impactful stories.”

In addition to the BBC, Stephenson has also worked at Channel 4, Tiger Aspect, Yorkshire TV, Granada TV, LWT, and Shed Productions.

Stephenson noted in Monday’s announcement that he’s eager to help take Bad Robot “into its next phase.”

J.J. Abrams is without doubt one of the world’s greatest writers, directors and producers, and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining him at Bad Robot,” Stephenson said. “Bad Robot already has an extraordinary reputation for great TV, and I’m hugely looking forward to working with some of the world’s best writers to help take the company into its next phase. The BBC has been a thrilling journey, and I am grateful to everyone I have worked with and all the wonderful programs I have been able to work on, but I am ready for a new challenge and can’t wait to begin a whole new adventure with J.J.”

With Stephenson coming aboard, Bad Robot’s Kathy Lingg will transition to a producer role, providing co-executive producer services on “Person of Interest,” as well as the upcoming projects “Westworld,” “Roadies” and “11/22/63.”

“It has been a great joy to work with Kathy Lingg for the past eight years. Her outstanding leadership and dedication is outdone only by her kindness and generosity,” Abrams said, adding that he’s “looking forward to continuing to work with Kathy.”

The company also said that Athena Wickham will exit the company at the end of the month to run Kilter Films, which co-produces “Person of Interest” and “Westworld” with Bad Robot.

“Ten years ago, Athena Wickham began working with me as my assistant. She has been at Bad Robot ever since. My sincere apologies go out to her for that,” Abrams said. “Since then, she has become one of the smartest, hard-working and impressive executives I’ve ever known. I respect and adore Athena more than I can express, and am so glad we get to keep collaborating as she transitions to head-up Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Kilter Films TV division.”