Baroness Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library, said: “I am delighted that Roly Keating will be joining us as Chief Executive. He has a strong record of creative leadership and strategic innovation at the BBC and has wide experience and a deep commitment to the digital information environment. He is the ideal person to build on the successes of the British Library and to ensure that the Library continues to be a leading-edge provider of knowledge as we take forward our Vision for 2020. I look forward to working with him.”
Roly Keating commented on his appointment: “It’s a huge honour to have the opportunity to lead one of the UK’s greatest cultural institutions, at a time of exciting change driven by the internet and connected media. Under Lynne Brindley’s leadership the British Library has set standards for the world in both the quality of its curatorship and the boldness of its thinking around new technology. I am looking forward to working with the Library’s talented staff and leadership team to take it on the next stage of its journey into the digital age.”
Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC said: “During Roly’s 29 years at the BBC he has proved himself to be one of the corporation’s greatest cultural heavyweights. Beginning with his work on Omnibus and Arena and then as a founder producer on The Late Show before moving on to run BBC Four and BBC Two, Roly has always had a keen understanding of the BBC ethos of making the good popular and the popular good. His most recent role as Director of Archive has enabled him to start the vital work of opening up the BBC’s archive making it accessible to audiences across the world. We are hugely grateful for everything he has done for the BBC and we are delighted that he will now be going on to run another of the UK’s most valuable cultural institutions, the British Library. We wish him every success for the future.”
Roly Keating, born in 1961, graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1983 with a first class degree in Classics. Roly joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1983. As a producer and director in Music and Arts, he made films for Omnibus, Bookmark and Arena. He was a founder producer and subsequently editor of the long-running arts and media magazine The Late Show and was also editor of the literary series Bookmark.
In 1997, Roly became Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC's joint venture channels with Flextech, including UK Style, UK Horizons and the re-launched UK Gold.
In 1999 he was made BBC Controller of Digital Channels, with overall editorial responsibility for BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge, as well as UKTV and BBC Prime. The following year he became Controller of Arts Commissioning, with responsibility for music and arts programming across BBC Television, before moving to BBC Four in December 2001.
As Controller of BBC Four, Roly led the launch of the channel in March 2002, where key programmes included The Falklands Play, The Alan Clark Diaries and the UK premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2003 he was seconded for six months to act as joint leader of the BBC's Charter Review project.
From 2004 to 2008, Roly was Controller of BBC Two. Under his tenure he oversaw the launch of a raft of influential and popular returning series, including Dragons' Den, Coast, The Choir, Springwatch and The Apprentice, as well as memorable programmes and series including Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain, The Power of Nightmares and Jerry Springer The Opera. From October 2007 to May 2008 he combined his job on BBC Two with the role of Acting Controller, BBC One. BBC Two was named Broadcast Channel of the Year in 2007.
In his current role as Director of Archive Content Roly acts as overall editorial leader for the BBC’s online services, including BBC iPlayer. This role is also responsible for the development and implementation of the BBC’s strategy to increase digital access to its massive archives, including the new Arts Council England partnership The Space and the proposed download-to-own initiative Project Barcelona.
Roly Keating will take over from Dame Lynne Brindley, who will be leaving the Library on 31 July 2012 after 12 years as Chief Executive.