Kirkwood's first major role came as a storyliner for ITV's Coronation Street. He later took control as the producer for Channel 4's Hollyoaks between 2006 and 2009. After leaving the main Hollyoaks team, he produced the second series of the late-night spin-off Hollyoaks Later, shown in 2009 on E4.
On 2 November 2009 it was announced that he would become the executive producer of the BBC One soap opera EastEnders, replacing Diederick Santer. He faced criticism from the media before he even assumed his role on EastEnders, with many reporting he planned to 'sex up' the show on arrival. His appointment came on 1 March 2010 as Santer stepped down from the role after the 25th anniversary celebrations. His first episode was broadcast on 4 June 2010 (moved from 7 June due to a schedule change), though he shares the executive producer credit with Santer for two weeks. His first big decision was the reintroduction of characters Kat and Alfie Moon, and his first new character is Vanessa Gold, played by Zöe Lucker. In April and May 2010 he axed eight characters: Charlie Slater, Minty Peterson, Libby Fox, Liz Turner, Adam Best, Danny Mitchell, Zsa Zsa Carter and Leon Small. In April it was announced he would be bringing back Lisa Fowler for one episode. In June 2010, he brought back Sam Mitchell and Kim Fox, and recast Ben Mitchell, Lucy Beale, and Lauren Branning. In July 2010 he cast Steve John Shepherd to play a new character, Michael Moon, a cousin of Alfie.
|Executive Producer of EastEnders