Saturday, February 24, 2018

Off their rockers

Elements of last night's Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC4 were inauthentic. The studio was way too big, and the show only over-ran by 1 minutes in 180. Perhaps that was because of the fleet of carers waiting outside TVC.

It was, largely, old blokes talking to each other - and loving Bob Harris, the least interesting of the show's roster of presenters. The complaint was always that the production team was making the show for each other. The same accusation could be made about last night.

An average of 730,000 watched the show, according to the overnight ratings.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Everything must change

The Times is the only paper that seems to have been briefed about the latest BBC initiative....

"Donalda MacKinnon, director of BBC Scotland, will compile recommendations to remove barriers to female advancement and report to Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the director-general, by June. She will investigate whether schemes adopted by other organisations or BBC departments should be extended throughout the corporation.

"One option could be to expand a programme in its nations and regions division that seeks to fast-track women just below management level by developing self-belief, work-life balance, personal brand and influencing skills."

Of course, Donalda couldn't do all that on her own, so we now have a job ad for a Head of Change, Culture and Progression Project. Remember, somebody at the BBC thinks about job titles. And somebody, maybe even the same person, writes this sort of job ad...

"This person will ensure that there is a defined and agreed vision, with a clear picture of the future state that ensures women at every level have the opportunity to contribute to developing a set of proposals and targets to support and enable the BBC to be one of the best organisations in the world for women to work.

"The Head of Change will ensure that the change environment is understood, the benefits are evaluated, and that effective change leadership is in place. Specifically the role will identify good practice that is already existent and will consider how it can be up-scaled and potentially applied across the organisation. They will galvanise existing BBC women’s groups alongside the wider employee base to contribute alongside considering the organisational context within which we operate to allow real and lasting change to be implemented."


First in what may be a continuing but occasional series: Things you'd rather hoped they'd never say.

Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content "I can't wait for Brendan O'Carroll to bring his own inimitable warmth and wit to a brand new comedy panel show for BBC One."

Thursday, February 22, 2018


So the tv licence fee goes up by £3.50, to £150.50, from April 1. The increase has been calculated using the Consumer Price Index, measured as the average rate of CPI over the last 12 months to September which works out at 2.23%. (It's currently 2.7%).

If all the people who had a licence last year stick with it, the BBC will gain an extra £90,391,413.

Well done everyone

Those worried that Alan Yentob might be winding down will have been delighted to spot him at The Brits. Eagle-eyed viewers saw him back-slapping both Ed Sheeran and Stormzy on their way from the celebrity pit to the winners podium. Now all we need is to track down his favoured after-party....

Changing the Praetorian Guard

New BBC Director of News Fran Unsworth has turned to trustie Sarah Ward-Lilley as her Managing Editor. Keith Blackmore, James Harding's chum from The Times "decided earlier this year that he would be leaving the BBC". Keith, who tweets mysteriously as @floppers57, joined four and a bit years ago, and has been overseeing presenter pay - so that's all good then. He's presumably decided the lonely commute from Brighton is too much without James at the end.

Sarah joined the tv newsroom as a producer 28 years ago, with a degree in English from York.
Fran tells staff she'll bring 'warmth' to the role, though I suspect that wasn't in the job spec. You need some sort of warmth to be chair of governors at both Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (beloved of Michelle Obama) and Copenhagen School in Islington. 

Sarah is currently in charge of Newsgathering's overseas offices. She'll now look after on-air staff, including their pay and career development.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Publishing news: Bloomsbury has signed up Labour MP Chris Bryant to pen "The Glamour Boys", chronicling a group of MPs, ostensibly led by Antony Eden, who opposed Chamberlain's appeasement of Germany in the run-up to the Second World War. They included Harold Nicolson, Leo Amery, Robert Boothby, Edward Spears, Ronald Cartland (Barbara's brother), Jack Macnamara, Victor Cazalet, Rob Bernays, Ronnie Tree, Brendan Bracken, Paul Latham and Harold Macmillan.

Publishing director Alexis Kirschbaum (who is also Mrs James Purnell) says it's a "crucial" and "overlooked" narrative. Bryant, the first gay MP to celebrate his civil partnership in the Palace of Westminster, said: "This is a story I've wanted to tell for years. It's about very secret heart-rending bravery, and I’m delighted to be doing so with Alexis and the team at Bloomsbury."

Bryant was Head of European Affairs at the BBC from 1998 to 2000. James left Auntie as Head of Corporate Planning in 1997. They made the news jointly in 2006, after a fundraising auction they organised for Labour included a copy of The Hutton Report, which nearly broke the BBC. It was signed by Alastair Campbell and Cherie Blair. 

Alexis is on a run at the moment: "Somebody I Used To Know", by Wendy Mitchell about working and living with dementia, was Radio 4's Book of The Week earlier this month.


With 25 cases of alleged sexual harassment to resolve, something over a hundred pay grievances unsettled, a new presenter grading system to design and implement, and many staff complaining about where their old straightforward title and grade has gone in the new all-singing and dancing Career Path Framework, it's a joy to see BBC HR Director Valerie Hughes D'Aeth imparting wisdom at the HR Leaders' Summit in Sydney. By the way, when did directors at the BBC start putting 'Group' in their title ?


I was taken with a former colleague's suggestion of a likeness, and decided to test it out....

Graphic scenes

700 buyers at the BBC Worldwide Showcase in Liverpool have been treated to a first glimpse of a new logo for Dr Who, and a Q&A session with Jodie Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall.
Series 11 will be ready for transmission from October.

Other people who read this.......