Thursday, October 8, 2015


Former BBC COO Caroline Thomson has let it be known that she's pirouetting away from the English National Ballet next year.

Her most significant contribution to UK terpsichory has been a deal to shift HQ to Docklands - but she'll be gone before the move.

And she'll be available for a range of entertaining job opportunities likely to emerge from a new BBC Charter, from non-executive chairman of a new unitary board, through leadership of a new BBC-specific regulator, to perhaps even Ofcom chair.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Success factor

The Panorama investigation into shaky witnesses and paedophile hunts attracted an average 1.9 million viewers in its late night Tuesday slot.

Indeed it was the most popular programme at that hour of the evening. Cast your minds back to the outrage amongst "serious tv journalists" when the current affairs flagship was moved from Sunday primetime to Monday at 8pm, then reduced to a mere corvette of 30 minutes.

BBC1 schedulers are more relaxed about the later, longer Tuesday slot. Audiences at 8.30 Monday have been dropping below 2m.

So 'winning' late at night with fewer viewers is hardly progress for Panorama. And must divert viewers from the ailing Newsnight. Director of News James Harding needs to sort his post 10pm offer pronto.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

x 4

The Daily Mail may have discovered an additional line of BBC income paid to Alan Yentob - a share of the overseas sales of Imagine.

The BBC has refused to confirm or deny the story. Previously we knew he receives a salary as part-time Creative Director, and presentation fees for Imagine, and is likely to be drawing on his BBC pension.

A share of overseas royalties for a staff member would be unusual.


In what must seem (at least to BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob) another example of the self-flagellation Auntie enjoys so much, the Corporation is buying a documentary on the collapse of charity Kids Company.

More details from Broadcast.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Number crunchers

OK, let's get the next book started...BBC Economics Editor. The vacancy may once again tempt Director of News, James Harding to bring in another of Fleet Street's finest. How about Sam Fleming, who he hired at The Times in 2010, now with the FT in the States ? Or a bigger fish, Gillian Tett, also of the FT, and beloved Newsnight panellist ?

Longer odds, I'd guess, on Sky's Ed Conway bringing his DJ mixes to Broadcasting House, or indeed, Sky's City Editor Mark Kleinman, whose every tweet seems to be an exclusive.

Insiders I'd like to see given a run: Simon Jack, from Today, and the indefatigable Mickey Clarke, of 5Live's Wake Up To Money. Plain speakers, both.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pine nuts

That tinker Peter Fincham has actually snaffled Robert Peston, with the offer of a Sunday morning show on top of the job of Political Editor ITV News.  Now he has to find something to drop from the current schedule to make space. This morning's proud offering was a repeat of Murder She Wrote, and three back to back repeats of the Jeremy Kyle Show. I hope Pesto got some assurances of a programme budget against that big-spending line-up.

Now James Harding should afford Runaway Robert the briefest possible period to collect his haid-dryer and back-comb from New Broadcasting House before gardening leave.

Then, I trust the BBC Westminster crew will greet his appearance on the lobby cabranks with the appropriate level of helpfulness and camaraderie to a former colleague, whatever that might be, eh, Kuenssberg, Landale et al ?  Sotto voce chanting of Lynam, Chiles, Bleakley, Trinny and Susannah, and Kilroy-Silk might be fun.

It's all about the money, money

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will be speaking on the under-bill to Chancellor George Osborne at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester tomorrow morning.

Rather depressingly, he's lumped together Eastern Europe-stylee in a section called "Party of Working People: The Economy." And it's an all male build-up to George, with Sajid Javid and Patrick McLoughlin also at the podium of rationality rousing the faithful to the required level of euphoric anticipation.


The more I think about it, the more I worry about the Amazonification personalisation that will be offered if you sign up for a myBBC ID. I've lost sleep constructing possible "recommendations" one might get from Auntie.

"Hi, we see you're over 55 and live in Redruth. 1.2% of people in Cornwall over 55 with a BBC ID have signed up for BBC Playlister, and of those, a further 0.5% have added a Frank Sinatra track. You might like to catch up with the James Watt Show on BBC Radio Stoke, where James talked to the author of a book about Frank Sinatra. Frank would have been 100 this year had he lived. The show is available for 27 days on iPlayer Radio. "

"Hi, we noticed you voted to save former sprinter Iwan Thomas in this week's Strictly Come Dancing elimination, via your new myBBC ID. Another sprinter, Christian Malcolm, will be on A Question of Sport, this coming Wednesday at 2235 on BBC1.  Lord Coe is another former sprinter, and Zeinab Badawi interviewed him for HardTALK in December 2014; the programme is still available."

"Hi, we noticed your name is Dilys Williams, which suggests, though you live in Todmorden, you might have Welsh heritage. And you're 30, which falls into our vital 25-34 year-old demographic, and even more importantly, you're classed as socio-economic group C2DE. The One Show, co-hosted by Alex Jones, who is Welsh, is very popular with viewers of that age and class definition. Alex will shortly be presenting a brand new BBC1 primetime series 'Shop Well For Less', with Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast, which is aimed at that same demographic. The programme team are keen to hear from viewers who might like to take part...."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Journey's end

There are a number of interesting betting markets in Strictly. The straightforward win still has Peter Andre as favourite, but with most bookies Jay McGuiness has moved to second place, ahead of Helen George. And the longest odds are still on Carol Kirkwood and Jeremy Vine.

But if you look at the market for first elimination, the shortest odds are on Iwan Thomas, who, in the training video for this week's show actually looks as if he may have been kicked into shape by Ola Jordan. The bookies, of course, take the popular vote into account - by their reckoning, Iwan, Carol Kirkwood and Daniel O'Donnell will all leave before Jezza.

  • In July, Chancellor George Osborne accused the BBC of being imperial in its ambitions for its online services. Jeremy Vine's new comprehensive website can't be far behind. It's peppered with important videos, and has been built by Natasha Courtenay-Smith, who has provided similar glossy offerings for Cerys Matthews, Adil Ray, Mary Nightingale and Samantha Simmonds.  
  • Meanwhile Paddy Power still thinks Robert Peston is odds on to be the next Political Editor at ITV, at 1/3, despite the blandishments of Lord Hall and Eddie Mair.  Sharing second spot, at 5/1 are Allegra Stratton, Cathy Newman and Tom Newton Dunn.

Janet and John

The Dame Janet Smith Review may be among the BBC's most expensive-ever undertakings, especially if it sets the scene for extensive compensation.

But the Dame and her team are still clocking up the payment schedule, with constant vigilance and rebuttal the name of the game, as we await publication. Here's a bit of yesterday's website update...

"The Review notes further recent press speculation in relation to its findings, all of which is premature and speculative and is not endorsed by the Review. In particular, the recent statement in the media that Dame Janet has changed the conclusions in her Report after receiving objections to her findings is inaccurate.

"Publication of the Review’s Report remains delayed solely as a result of the Metropolitan Police’s concerns that publication of the Report could prejudice its ongoing investigations into sexual abuse. There is no other reason for the delay."

At least some of the recent speculation has come from that exemplar of clear thinking, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who helpfully told the Evening Standard, "I don't know what's in the report but by all accounts it is going to be pretty shocking."

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