SundanceTV's Sarah Barnett to Run BBC America, Perry Simon Signs Production Deal

Courtesy of AMC
Sarah Barnett

The hiring marks the first executive shift since AMC Networks took a stake in the cable import

The new regime is starting at BBC America. AMC Networks, which bought nearly a 50 percent stake in the cable channel in October, announced Friday that Sarah Barnett has been named president and general manager.

The SundanceTV topper will assume leadership of both networks in early 2015 — though her role at SundanceTV will be an interim one during the search for her successor. Also, current GM Perry Simon has entered into an exclusive production deal with BBC Worldwide North America, with development commitments already in place at BBC America and AMC Nets.

“Sarah has had a remarkable tenure guiding SundanceTV through a dramatic evolution, taking the network ad-supported and establishing it as a formidable player in the scripted drama space,” said AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll, to whom Barnett will continue to report. “Sarah’s appetite for creative risk-taking and her strong leadership skills are well suited to this new role and we look forward to her building on BBC America successes, as the network continues to establish itself as a showcase for high-quality shows that resonate with critics and audiences alike.”

After years of bringing British imports, most notably Doctor Who, over to U.S. audiences, BBC America started making an impression in originals. Critical hit Orphan Black, most notably, was born during Perry's tenure.

“I’m delighted Sarah is to lead BBC America as the new general manager within the joint venture," said BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie. "She has a fantastic track record in the kind of intelligent, creative content that is BBC America's hallmark. And as a highly respected, collaborative team leader I have every confidence she will deliver success for both joint venture partners.”

"BBC America is flourishing on so many levels and I'm thrilled to be returning at such an exciting time,” added Barnett. “I leave SundanceTV proud of the creative, dedicated team that has done a terrific job elevating and growing the network and I know many more successes lie ahead.”

Perry had previously announced he would leave his current role at the end of 2015 upon news of BBC America and AMC Networks' joint venture last month.