Sunday, June 26, 2016

Where next ?

In looking at former Beeboids who might be affected by the change of Tory leadership, I've been reminded of jovial giant Will Walden.

Will worked for the BBC for 12 years from 2000, moving through sport, Washington and Westminster. He was Andrew Marr's producer when the Scot was Political Editor; he was the News Editor at Millbank for six years, before Boris nabbed him to replace Guto Harri as his Mayoral Spokesman.

Boris officially left office as Mayor on May 5th; Will has yet to update his cv.

Spurs fan Will (Elizabeth College, Guernsey and Grey College, Durham) is married to BBC News hackette Daniela Relph, who spookily also moved through jobs in sport and Washington.  She's currently a News Correspondent, often drafted in to cover Royal stories.

Also waiting to update his CV is Matthew Pencharz, 'Former Deputy Mayor of London for Environment & Energy working on cities, urbanisation & sustainability'. Matthew (Haberdasher's, Woodhouse Finchley and Christ's College Cambridge) worked as a BBC politics producer from 2004, before joining Bojo's team as a political advisor in 2009. I suspect he's less likely to make a transition to No 10...

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Not much of a silver lining: Culture Secretary and Bondaged Black-eyed Brexiteer of Maldon, John Whittingdale expects to honour his £1,000 bet than David Cameron wouldn't go if the referendum came out for leave.

Taking away some more of the silver: the bet was with Piers Morgan.


A number of those in the current service of David Cameron will be buffing up their Linkedin profiles this weekend. Former BBC editor Craig Oliver, 47, will be surrendering his £140k salary as Director of Communications at Number 10, perhaps before October. Former BBC producer Thea Rogers is likely to part with her £98k as diet, hair and high-vis consultant to Chancellor George Osborne.

Guto Harri, the former BBC political correspondent who was spinner to Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, wanted his native Wales to Remain, and probably burnt his bridges with Bojo with this Mail piece.  


Sometimes, dear readers, on your behalf, I read the Daily Mail Online.

Today's edition brings you an important souvenir of a pack of hacks slavering with maximum frothing, boorish dyspepsia. The leader is presumably written by Paul Dacre himself, trailed by Max Hastings, Quentin Letts, Andrew Pierce, Dominic Sandbrook, Stephen Glover, Richard Littlejohn, Andrew Gimson, Peter Oborne, Alex Brummer and Katie Hopkins. As yet, there's no obvious contribution from Mrs Michael Gove, who is presumably measuring curtains either at No 11 or Carlton Gardens. Not a scintilla of magnanimity in victory. Gawd knows what's going to happen when the Mail on Sunday, in favour of Remain, appears.

James Chapman, former Political Editor of the Mail, joined the George Osborne Project in May last year, working as his Director of Communications. Here's his rueful Tweet of yesterday.

(One notes that Livepool, where there's been a boycott of The Sun for 27 years, produced a 58.2% vote for remain).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Independence Day


It looks like David Cowling, former head of the BBC's political research team, now with King's College, got it right in a briefing note written more than a week ago...

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”


At the moment, BBC1 looks to return to 'normal' programming today at 1.45pm, with "For What It's Worth" (antiques, not the plunging pound) and "Escape to the Country" (is there now really any escape from Bojo, Gove and Farage ?).

My guess is we'll still be rolling.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


A marginal widening of the gene pool for the latest BBC Television appointment. Kate Phillips is coming back from Worldwide, where she's been selling Bake Off to Brazil and Turkey, Strictly to Colombia and The Getaway Car to... well, let's see.

She'll fill the first of many jobs left vacant by Mark Linsey in his recent meteoric rise to the BBC Executive, that of Controller, Entertainment Commissioning, where she replaces acting incumbent and fellow Getaway Car enthusiast Alan Tyler in September.
Kate's career has included work on The Big Breakfast for Planet 24; producing TV's Greatest Hits on BBC1; and the millenium show, Goodbye 2000.

Clock watchers

Former BBC News boss Richard Sambrook has co-edited a new selection of essays entitled The Future of 24 Hour News: New Directions, New Challenges. The publication comes two years after Richard asked "Have 24 hour news channels had their day ?", with a clear steer to the answer "Yes". Too costly, too format-driven, too unwieldy, prone to misjudgements and not reaching yoof was his basic verdict.

James Harding was six months into his job as Director of BBC News when the first Sambrook thesis emerged. He went on his own worldwide hunt for the The Future of News, but the two BBC News Channels (in English) have been twitchingly waiting for a tumbril ever since that day. Entertainingly, there are no essays from current BBC practitioners in the new book. John Ryley of Sky News gets a chapter, as does former Beeboid Peter Horrocks, now running The Open University.

And another former thought-leader Roger Mosey offers a fairly neutral review of the book. "The future of news is vital to our society, and this is a rewarding and exhilarating journey through contemporary television journalism and its digital challenges. I enjoyed the range of views and the provocations alongside the facts, and this book will leave you vastly better informed about a debate that matters."

I suspect Mosey's recent Radio Times article, on the current Harding option to merge BBC News and BBC World News, reflects his thinking more clearly: "A high-quality continuous television news and analysis service targeted at the UK is a reasonable expectation from the licence fee, especially in these challenging times. To weaken it deliberately would be a needless act of self-harm.”

Still, if the BBC Executive, left to make a decision in the face of vacillation/shroud-waving from Harding, does go ahead with a merger, then unlucky channel bosses might apply for the forthcoming vacancy as Professor of Journalism at Cardiff, a title Richard Sambrook has decided to hand on.

A few words

In other business, we note that the Culture Select Committee has called back BBC DG Lord Hall for a wee chat about Charter Renewal and The White Paper on Tuesday next week. There is, at present, no named outrider accompanying Tony.

The committee is led by the normally-decisive Jesse Norman, a Tory who has kept his Euro intentions secret throughout the campaign, writing a whole series of thoughtful articles looking at issues of sovereignty v economic impact. May the newshound side of Lord Hall will push a question the other way...

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