Benjamin Zand

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Benjamin Zand
Born (1991-02-02) 2 February 1991 (age 27)[1]
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Alma materEdinburgh Napier University
OccupationPresenter, reporter and documentary maker, editor and head of BBC Pop Up
Notable credit(s)
BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Our World, BBC News, BBC World News, The Travel Show, BBC Pop Up

Benjamin "Ben" Zand (born 2 February 1991) is an Iranian-British[2] journalist and filmmaker for the BBC from Liverpool, England. He makes documentaries for different BBC channels and is the head of a BBC documentary team, BBC Pop Up[3].

Early life[edit]

Zand attended Bowring Comprehensive School in Huyton in Merseyside.[4]


During university Zand started a travel website and began video production. His first documentary was called Tehrangeles, featuring Iranians living in Los Angeles.[2] After finishing his studies, he worked with production companies and eventually became a producer at the BBC World Service working on numerous radio programmes, including BBC World Have Your Say. After about a year, he moved on to BBC World News, as a producer and social media manager of BBC Facebook pages.

Zand then became a video journalist and reporter for BBC News, also becoming part of the BBC's video innovation lab. During this time, he covered stories from far-right ultranationalism[5] to Native Americans[6] in South Dakota. He helped start up BBC Trending and BBC Newsbeat's video offering, and also worked for the BBC's The Travel Show. Towards the end of 2014, he started the BBC's "mobile bureau" called BBC Pop Up with a BBC colleague.[7][8] Here, he travelled across the US crowdsourcing story ideas and making documentaries for BBC World News and BBC News.[9][10]

Benjamin is now the Editor of BBC Pop Up[3] and a presenter and filmmaker for different departments across the BBC making current affairs documentaries, including BBC Two, BBC Three and Panorama.

Additionally while working as a journalist for BBC, Zand met VICE News journalist Isobel Yeung. The two announced their dating relationship via their instagram accounts in 2018.


A list featuring some of Benjamin Zand's documentaries.

World's Most Dangerous Cities with Ben Zand[edit]

Zand visited "the most dangerous cities on earth, coming face to face with killers and terror". In this series he visited Caracas in Venezuela, Kabul in Afghanistan and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. [11]

R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes[edit]

Zand explored allegations surrounding the sex life of R&B legend R Kelly, including accusations of holding women against their will in his home in Atlanta and running a degrading sex cult — allegations he denies.[12]

R Kelly: The Sex Scandal Continues[edit]

In this follow-up film, Zand "gets to the heart of the latest allegations". Ben followed the story of the Savage family, and their daughter's involvement with R Kelly.[13]

Trump: A Very British Welcome?[edit]

As controversial US President Donald Trump visited the UK, Zand followed both sides of the Trump protests.[14]

Ben Zand: Cults, Gangs and God[edit]

On 18 January 2018, a three-part miniseries was released, in which he visited Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.[15][16]

Ben Zand in Dictatorland[edit]

In this series Zand travelled to three countries, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Belarus, to see what life is like living under a dictator. He met dissidents being tracked by the state, and those close to the rulers themselves. It was broadcast on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.[17]

Africa's Million Pound Migrant Trail[edit]

This documentary broadcast on BBC One's Panorama programme looked at life along the migrant trail that runs through sub-Saharan Africa via Libya to Europe. Zand visited Nigeria, Niger and Libya, to take a look at what the European Union was doing to address the European migrant crisis, and to see how much money is being made.[18][19]

Lebanon Stories[edit]

As part of BBC Pop Up, Zand travelled to Lebanon for a month to make four documentaries, ranging from drug lords, refugees, Islamic extremism and LGBT rights.[20][21]

The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki[edit]

In this documentary. Zand goes in search of Akinwale Arobieke for BBC Three, and tries to understand a story that has been gripping Merseyside for decades.[22]anon, and takes a look at how the ongoing conflict in Syria means more Lebanese hashish is being produced than ever.

The Fish Bombers[edit]

For Channel 4's Unreported World, Zand visited Malaysian Borneo, where coral reefs face environmental disaster as local fishermen resort to drastic, destructive fishing methods to survive, including using explosives and sodium cyanide.[23]

Our World, Afrikaners on the Edge[edit]

After campus protests, some of South Africa's most prestigious universities agreed to stop teaching in Afrikaans; Zand travelled to South Africa to meet Afrikaners who fear for their future in the 'Rainbow Nation'.[24]

The Other Side of...[edit]

Zand travelled to Pakistan and Sudan to take a look at the countries away from the news headlines.[25]


Zand was named Young Talent of the Year at the 2016 Royal Television Society Journalism Awards. "The judges liked everything about Benjamin, the stories he'd found, the way he filmed them – normally on his own – and the way he told them. They found him original, fresh, provocative, versatile, and, of course, creative."[26]


  1. ^ @BenjaminZand (2 February 2017). "It's my birthday I can eat tiny cakes whilst working on stories for Lebanese documentaries if I want to..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Benjamin Zand (5 June 2012). Tehrangeles. Retrieved 7 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ a b Benjamin Zand on LinkedIn Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ Ed Gove (6 February 2017). "8 steps to success: Journalist Benjamin Zand gives his tips on getting started". Royal Television Society.
  5. ^ Britain First: The 'most dangerous far-right party'?. BBC News. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ America is a stolen country. BBC News. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2017 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ Jenny Shank (8 December 2014). "Inside BBC Pop Up, an Experimental Mobile News Bureau". MediaShift. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  8. ^ Gabriel Rosenberg (22 January 2015). "BBC Pop-Up reports from small town America". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  9. ^ "BBC Pop Up: Benjamin Zand". BBC News. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  10. ^ Anna Mae Ludlum (1 February 2015). "Q&A: BBC Pop-Up With Benjamin Zand". Arizona Daily Wildcat. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  11. ^ World's Most Dangerous Cities with Ben Zand. BBC. 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  12. ^ R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes. BBC Three. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  13. ^ Ben Allen (31 May 2018). "BBC3's R Kelly: The Sex Scandal Continues suggests that the singer's time is nearly up". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  14. ^ Trump: A Very British Welcome?. BBC Three. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  15. ^ Ben Zand: Cults, Gangs and God. BBC World News. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Ben Zand in new BBC series Cults, Gangs and Gods". Curtis Brown. 15 January 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  17. ^ Dictatorland. BBC Three. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  18. ^ Africa's Billion Pound Migrant Trail on IMDb
  19. ^ Africa's Billion Pound Migrant Trail. Panorama. BBC One. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  20. ^ Lebanon Stories. BBC News Channel. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  21. ^ Meeting a Lebanese drug lord. BBC Pop Up. 2 March 2017 – via YouTube.
  22. ^ The Man Who Squeezes Muscles: Searching for Purple Aki. BBC Three. 12 September 2016 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ "The Fish Bombers". Unreported World. Channel 4. 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  24. ^ Afrikaners on the Edge. Our World. BBC World News. 17 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  25. ^ The Other Side of Pakistan. BBC World News. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Television Journalism Awards 2016". Royal Television Society. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2017.

External links[edit]

Media offices
New title Editor and head of BBC Pop Up