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'Queen of CBeebies' Kay Benbow dies aged 63

Kay Benbow receiving the BAFTA Children's Award for Channel of the Year in 2013 credit:Bang Showbiz
Kay Benbow receiving the BAFTA Children's Award for Channel of the Year in 2013 credit:Bang Showbiz

Former Controller of CBeebies Kay Benbow has died aged 63.

The broadcasting executive joined CBeebies in 2002 and became the second Controller of CBeebies in May 2010, leaving the role in 2017.

During her time in charge, CBeebies won the BAFTA Children's Award for Channel of the Year four times, in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016.

Benbow's death was confirmed in a statement from the BBC which paid tribute to her incredible contribution to children's programming.

The statement read: "Everyone in the BBC Children's and 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 kids' 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.

"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.

"She was an extraordinary person and did so much for CBeebies and young children across the UK."

Kay was married to Ian Stubbs and the couple had two sons, born in 1994 and 1998.

Since her passing was announced, several of Benbow's former colleagues have paid tribute to her on social media.

Executive producer Michael Carrington - who preceded Benbow as CBeebies boss - wrote on LinkedIn: "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."

Stuart Rowson - who previously worked for BBC Children’s TV and is the founder of Lucky Socks Media - also paid tribute to Benbow on LinkedIn.

He wrote: "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."