Long-time Film4 head Tessa Ross is stepping down from her role later this year to become chief executive of the National Theatre.

Ross will remain in the post until September 2014, and will stay on as chair of the Growth Fund Advisory Council.

She has been on the board of the prestigious Theatre for the past three years.

Her 13-year tenure at the broadcaster began in 2000. She became Head of Film4 in 2003, followed by her current position of Controller of Film and Drama in 2008.

Her exit follows deputy head of film Katherine Butler’s departure from Film4 in January.

Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham will look to fill Ross’ role in the next months.

Abraham said: “Tessa has made as big a contribution to Channel 4 as anyone in its history. I would like to personally thank her for her extraordinary commitment, talent and leadership over 13 remarkable years. I am looking forward to working with her over the summer on a number of important projects, including Todd Haynes’ Carol, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth.

“Tessa’s job is one of the most coveted in film, both in the UK and internationally, and while she leaves big shoes to fill, we will shortly begin the task of identifying a new leader for the next chapter of Film4’s story. Meanwhile our commitment to investing in independent British film remains undimmed and we have every intention of building on the extraordinary reputation Tessa has created.”

Ross added: “I’m incredibly excited to be joining the National Theatre but it is with a heavy heart I leave this wonderful organisation and the brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work beside over the past 13 years. I leave behind a dedicated, passionate team at Film4 – not only colleagues but true friends – and an important organisation in its mother Channel 4. It’s been an absolute honour to work with the writers, directors, producers and the many other talented people I’ve collaborated with during my time here, relationships I look forward to continuing. I’ve loved every minute of the work, and am privileged that the public purpose that has been at the heart of it – of discovering, nurturing and supporting great artists and great work – is something I shall be able to continue to champion and celebrate in my new role.”

Under her watch Film4 has developed and financed a string of critical and commercial hits including Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave; Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland and Shane Meadows’ This is England.

The hugely-respected executive has backed and championed some of the UK and Ireland’s most exciting directors including Steve McQueen, Mike Leigh, Andrea Arnold, Jonathan Glazer, Clio Barnard, Martin McDonagh, Paddy Considine, David Mackenzie and Yann Demange.

During her earlier stewardship of Channel 4 Drama, Ross commissioned shows including Shameless, Teachers, Not Only But Always, White Teeth, No Angels and Sex Traffic.

She came to Channel 4 from the BBC’s Independent Commissioning Group where she was Head of Drama.

See industry reactions here.