As Vice President, Programming & Development Bill Gardner focuses on multiplatform content strategy and production in the genres of history, culture, natural history and science. He works closely with flagship PBS strands such as NATURE and NOVA as well as managing a large portfolio of independent series and premier documentaries.
Since joining PBS in 2012, projects he oversaw have won three Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, two Dupont-Columbia Awards, an Imagen Award, an NAACP Image Award, a James Beard Award and numerous Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and Wildscreen Awards. International co-productions he has developed or commissioned have also earned several BAFTA and Grierson Awards in the UK. During this time PBS rose from the 12th to the 6th-most watched network in the United States, reaching over 200 million people annually, with Bill’s commissions leading a resurgence in the Wednesday night factual television bloc to help make PBS the #1 broadcaster in unscripted content and routinely attracting younger, more diverse audiences to PBS. With deep connections in the international production community, Bill is a specialist in assembling blue-chip co-productions with partners across the globe, from public broadcasters to commercial networks and emerging OTT platforms to international outreach and engagement organizations. He oversees the PBS- Arté development partnership and the PBS-BBC co-production partnership, now in its seventh year, with successful multi-platform output such as Spy in the Wild, 8 Days, Wild Alaska Live and The Planets in the Science and Natural History genres and Basquiat: Rage to Riches and Civilizations in the Arts & Culture space.
Other recent projects include award-winning science and natural history specials such as The Farthest-Voyager in Space, E.O. Wilson: Of Ants & Men, The Age of Nature and Earth A New Wild; landmark cultural history series Native America, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, The Black Church: Our Story, Our Song; Latino Americans, Makers: Women Who Make America; Not Done: Women Remaking America; American Epic and Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music. He also developed and oversaw The Great American Read, hosted by Meredith Vieira, the first ever major television and multiplatform campaign to identify America’s best loved novel. Bill also developed, commissioned or oversees formats such as PBS’s highest performing series Finding Your Roots, No Passport Required with Chef Marcus Samuelsson and PBS’s Lucy Worsley portfolio.
Before joining PBS Gardner was Executive Producer at Discovery Studios, where he oversaw and developed projects for multiple networks with partners such as the NFLPA, Petfinder.com and the Department of Defense. Prior to that he spent over a decade as an independent producer, director and showrunner for multiple networks both in the US and globally, including National Geographic, CNN, Discovery and The History Channel. He has produced programs in over 30 countries and spent 2 months embedded with US Special Forces investigating the looting of Baghdad’s Iraq museum in 2003. During this time he was the first Westerner to film inside the holy Shi’i shrines of Abbas and Hussein in Karbala.
Bill holds a Master’s Degree in cultural anthropology, has taught university courses in Arkansas and Marrakech, Morocco and sits on the Board Executive Committee of the Jackson Wild Film Festival.