Screen Yorkshire CEO Sally Joynson to leave after helping to bring Channel 4 to Leeds and All Creatures Great and Small back to screens

Sally Joynson, a pivotal figure in helping the region to become a top location for film and television production, will leave the Screen Yorkshire agency after 20 years.

Under Joynson's tenure the organisation has invested in more than fifty productions - including the readapted All Creatures Great and Small, Peaky Blinders and films such as This Is England and Official Secrets – in turn securing over 100 awards and nominations for content made in the region.

She also played a key role in bringing Channel 4 to Leeds.

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My Yorkshire: Sally Joynson
Sally Joynson is stepping down at Screen Yorkshire CEO.

The search for a new CEO will start immediately.

“I always said that when I reached a certain age, I was going to take some time out to focus on me, and in the blink of an eye we’re here," said Joynson.

"It’s been an absolute privilege to lead Screen Yorkshire for so long and I’m immensely proud of what’s been achieved and the role we’ve played in making things happen in this most glorious part of the country. I leave the film and TV industry in Yorkshire in the best shape it’s been for a very long time.

But it’s now time for a new era to begin – both for me and for Screen Yorkshire. I’m looking forward to taking some time out, concentrating on spending time with my family and looking at new opportunities in non-executive roles when the time is right.”

Joynson began her career with Screen Yorkshire as Head of Industry Development and was the organisation’s second employee when it was first set up in 2002.

She became Chief Executive in 2006 and is credited with relaunching and rebuilding the company as a standalone enterprise after the closure of the regional screen agencies in 2010.

Securing almost £15m in funding to invest in content produced in the region, she created the Yorkshire Content Fund – the biggest of its kind in the UK – of which the first recipient was Peaky Blinders.

Since then, the fund has invested in more than fifty productions - from feature films like Dad’s Army and Official Secrets to critically-acclaimed TV shows like Ackley Bridge and All Creatures Great and Small.

In 2018, Joynson received the Royal Television Society Yorkshire’s Outstanding Contribution Award.

She has worked with and supported acclaimed independent production companies based in the region, such as Leeds's True North and Sheffield's Warp Films.

And as CEO she played a major role in establishing Yorkshire and the Humber as the UK’s fastest growing centre for film in TV between 2009 to 2015. The work of the organisation delivered unprecedented growth in the industry's employment and turnover in the area - more than double the rate of any other in the UK – supporting more than 12,000 jobs with a turnover of £1.1bn.

In 2015, Joynson helped found Church Fenton Studios, home to ITV’s global hit Victoria, and established the first British Film Institute-backed out-of-London screen cluster in 2016 - the first award through its Creative Clusters Challenge Fund, designed to accelerate growth in key regions.

Recognising the need to champion underrepresented talent and address industry skills shortages, Joynson also introduced a slate of new schemes through Screen Yorkshire such as Beyond Brontës, which has notched up an impressive track record of getting 73 per cent of its participants into screen sector work, and partnered with ScreenSkills and the National Film and Television Society (NFTS) to launch the UK’s first Centre of Screen Excellence, which supports training in craft and technical grades.

Joynson also played a key role in bringing Channel 4 to Leeds, as part of the consortium that successfully pitched for the broadcaster to relocate its main headquarters outside of London.

Last year, Screen Yorkshire launched a service in the pandemic to support freelancers, securing over 4,600 days of work since July 2020.

John Surtees, chairman of Screen Yorkshire, said: “There are no words that can fully do justice to our debt of gratitude to Sally for the extraordinary contribution she has made to Screen Yorkshire.

"Screen Yorkshire has never been stronger thanks to her passion, advocacy, resilience, and diplomacy which she has employed over the last twenty years to steer the organisation through both the good and the more challenging times.

"Her legacy impacts not only this organisation but the wider screen industries in Yorkshire & Humber. As we launch the process to find her successor, I and the Screen Yorkshire Board would like to wish her a wonderful retirement.”