Praise for Menna Richards following 10 years as BBC Wales head

Posted Nov 16, 2010 by Mathew Wace Peck
People from within and outside the TV industry have been lining up to praise the outgoing director of BBC Wales Cymru, Menna Richards, who will be leaving the corporation early in 2011.
BBC Cymru Wales
BBC Cymru Wales
BBC Publicity
Under Richards’s leadership, BBC Wales Cymru has seen itself transformed from a relatively small part to a major player within the BBC, and is now the home of some of the corporation’s greatest programme successes, including Doctor Who, Tribe and Merlin.
Despite an uneasy relationship with the recently installed UK Conservative government, the Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, has paid tribute to Richards on BBC News, saying:
During a decade leading BBC Cymru Wales, Menna has been at the forefront of Welsh broadcasting and has made a major contribution to the thriving creative industries that are important to the economy of Wales.
Under Menna’s strong leadership, Wales has become a major creative centre for the BBC.
The fantastic successes of networked programmes such as Gavin and Stacey, Doctor Who, Torchwood and Coal House has given BBC Cymru Wales a reputation for excellence and placed it in prime position to reap benefits from the transfer of more drama and factual programme production out of London.
The new BBC drama village, which begins production in Cardiff Bay next summer, will be a lasting legacy to Menna’s vision and leadership of BBC Cymru Wales. I thank her for her huge contribution to broadcasting in Wales and wish her well for the future.
Meanwhile, according to BBC News, the BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, has written to the corporation’s staff, saying:
Menna has been an outstanding director of BBC Wales, who has combined strong creative leadership with an excellence in management.
I’d like to thank Menna personally for her superb professionalism, dedication and loyalty over the past decade.
He also said that Richards, through her combined “strong creative leadership [and] excellence in management [had led] a creative transformation at BBC Wales [and] strengthened journalism in both English and Welsh”.
Russell T Davies – who, under Richards’s leadership, oversaw the revival of Doctor Who and the development of its spin-off shows, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, enthused about her fearless and fun nature.
When I came back home, to work in Wales, it was amazing to meet Menna and to find a creative leader who was truly fearless. And great fun too.
But she’s a crusader for talent, and has opened up opportunities for so many people, in so many ways, leaving Welsh culture immeasurably better and richer and bolder.
Ms Richards told BBC Wales staff she would be "very sad to leave this brilliant organisation".
Meanwhile, Richards – who is said to be “very sad to leave this brilliant organisation” – was full of praise for her staff and what they had all achieved. She said:
We have achieved so much together and I will forever count myself truly privileged to have worked alongside so many talented and committed people.
I never had any doubt that Wales had the talent to make a real difference both here in Wales and on the UK stage, and it’s your passion and determination that has taken us on this extraordinary journey together.
I’m absolutely certain that that same passion and determination will continue to drive BBC Wales forward.
Prior to joining BBC Wales Cymru, in 2000, Richards was managing director of its commercial rival, HTV Wales.
During her time at the BBC’s Cardiff HQ, her achievements have included the securing of the new drama village – which is due to open in Cardiff Bay next summer, and will see production of Doctor Who and Casualty move there – and the opening of BBC Hoddinott Hall – at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay – as the new home for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Richards has also overseen the broadcast of a number of landmark TV series exploring Welsh life and history, which have included Coal House (2009) and Snowdonia 1890 (2010). Of these, she said:
Serving the nation has always been at the heart of BBC Wales’s vision.
We make a huge contribution to the life of Wales in all its aspects: social, cultural and political.
As the national broadcaster [of Wales], our role in helping define a nation has never been so important or so precious.
Earlier this year, Richards – who was born in Maesteg, Wales – was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to broadcasting, and appointed to the board of the Welsh National Opera.