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Kay Benbow Dies: “Legendary” Leader Of BBC Preschool Channel CBeebies Was Champion Of Kids TV

Key Benbow, the influential former Controller of BBC preschool channel CBeebies, has died.

Several of her former colleagues have taken to social media to post tributes to Benbow, who is considered among the most important and successful BBC children’s TV executives of recent times.

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CBeebies won the BAFTA Channel of the Year award five times and RTS Channel of the Year during her tenure and commissioned numerous shows that remain on air today, including the annual Christmas live show.

“Kay was a legendary leader of CBeebies and affectionately known as the Queen of Beebies by some of those still within BBC Children’s, several years after her departure,” wrote Stuart Rowson, a former BBC Children’s colleague who now runs Lucky Socks Media.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Everyone in the BBC Children’s & Education department is incredibly sad to hear the news that Kay Benbow has passed away. Our most sincere condolences go to Kay’s husband, Ian, their sons and to the wider family.

“As the Controller of CBeebies, Kay was known across the whole kid’s media sector for her passion and commitment to providing young children with the very best content. She was pivotal in taking CBeebies programmes into new and original areas, never afraid to stretch preschool minds into unthought-of territory – such as ballet, Shakespeare, mathematics, science and the joys of the annual live Christmas show.”

Benbow worked in TV for 35 years, almost all of which at the BBC. She rose to run CBeebies in 2010 and held the role until late 2017. After exiting, she became a consultant and children’s content specialist, working on shows for CBeebies and Milkshake!, the kids brand of Paramount Global-owned Channel 5.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sheffield University in recognition of her services to the industry and the BBC spokesperson added she was “loved and respected by everyone who worked with her.”

“Kay will be deeply missed by a huge number of current and previous BBC colleagues, a testimony to the many lives she touched in addition to her service to the audience,” they added. “She was an extraordinary person and did so much for CBeebies and young children across the UK.”

Michael Carrington, who preceded Benbow at CBeebies, also paid tribute. Had had exited the BBC in 2010 to join Turner and later moved to Australia to join pubcaster the ABC.

“During my tenure as Controller of CBeebies at the BBC, Kay served as Head of Production, and I had the privilege of witnessing her exceptional talent, dedication, and warmth firsthand,” he wrote. “Her passion for children’s programming was evident in every project she undertook, leaving an indelible mark on the industry and audiences.

“Beyond her professional accomplishments, Kay’s kindness and unwavering support left a lasting impression on me. Her leadership and guidance were invaluable, and her presence will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”

“Although distance may have separated us geographically, the memories of our time together remain cherished. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside such a remarkable individual and to have shared in her vision for creating engaging and enriching content for young audiences.”

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