National Archives appoints new chief to lead organisation into ‘digital age’

UK’s public archiving organisation has announced its Cambridge University alumnus and former BBC TV producer Saul Nassé as new leader, who brings a vision to ‘truly create archives for everyone’

The National Archives has appointed a former BBC television producer and University of Cambridge exams chief as its new chief executive.

Saul Nassé will take up the post of chief exec and keeper of The National Archives at the end of July, replacing Dr Jeff James, who has led the organisation since 2014. Nassé is a fellow of Robinson College at the University of Cambridge and a former group chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, the university’s examinations business.

Before joining the university, Nassé had a long career at the BBC, working in both the UK and India. His final role at the BBC was controller at BBC Learning, where he led the teams that commissioned and produced educational content such as Bitesize and Domesday Reloaded. On the latter project, the creation of a website for the digitised content of the BBC’s 1986 Domesday Project, the BBC worked with The National Archives to transfer the material and the website was transferred to The National Archives in 2018.

Nassé was also the youngest ever editor of Tomorrow’s World, a BBC science television programme that ran for 38 years.

Andrew Wathey, chair of The National Archives, said he is “excited” to welcome Nassé as the organisation’s new chief exec and keeper.

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“He brings a wealth of leadership experience in a variety of high-profile roles, and a deep commitment to The National Archives and to the enormous potential presented by archives in a digital age,” Whartney said. “He will be an excellent ambassador for The National Archives, building on the organisation’s successes as we take forward our vision ‘Archives for Everyone’. I very much look forward to working with him.”

Nassé said it is a “privilege” to be asked to join the National Archives. “[It is] an extraordinary institution, preserving the records of the nation and enriching the lives of individual citizens”.

He said believes the “team, the board and colleagues across the worlds of archives and culture” can together achieve the organisation’s goal to “truly create archives for everyone, enhancing the impact of the collections in the future”.

An advert for the role posted in November offered £145,000 per year and said the new chief exec would oversee the organisation’s “single biggest transfer in our history, which will involve the ingestion of historical records of about 10 million former military service personnel”.

Tevye Markson

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