Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In the box

The Prime Minister was a guest of the BBC at the Proms last night. That's at least three freebies in three years. In 2014, she was with Lord Hall for the Last Night; last year she was in a group with Professor Brian Cox.

Art for art's sake

Is it possible the nascent BBC Studios have gone off message so early in their young life ?  Lisa Opie has just re-structured her factual teams - and there is no longer a department called 'Arts'. Instead there are 'business units' bringing together a range of genres across various far-flung sites. (In the normal way of restructuring, this means existing bosses compete against each other for a diminishing number of jobs - by my rough reckoning, nine people chasing five jobs.) So, if you want to be in overall charge of programmes like, say, Imagine, with its formidable editor/presenter Alan Yentob at the helm, you'll be applying to run BBC Studios Scotland Factual. Or will Al end up in Documentaries ? Clear as mud, Ms Opie.

Here's the full run-down of the new units - language and punctuation brought to you by the ever-distinctive BBC.

Scotland Factual: A cross genre creative business unit with proven skills to deliver a wide range of factual content. BBC Studios Scotland Factual will produce local and network Arts, Daytime, Docs, and History. This is an exciting business, founded on the reputation of recent titles such as the award winning Handmade, What Artists Do All Day and the highly successful Landward produced out of Aberdeen. 

Popular Factual (working title): Based across Bristol, Northern Ireland and Wales, this unit will focus on building new returning lifestyle and features series, spanning the genres and offering an opportunity to work differently with talent on screen and off, bringing teams together from different genres and bases, to encourage collaboration and creativity. 

Natural History Unit: With a global reputation and rich heritage, it is our ambition to build on that reputation, driving innovation, broadening our offer and deepening our storytelling skills. 

Documentaries: Bringing together Arts, History and Documentaries and building on the success of the existing London team, this unit will supply reputational, popular, and critically acclaimed factual television, from observational access series through to history, arts, factual drama and feature length singles. At the heart of this unit will be a commitment to brilliant story-telling and high production values. 

Science: We will look to build on the success of programmes such as Forces of Nature with Brian Cox and Trust Me I’m A Doctor. With our global reputation and important co-production partnerships we are confident that we can continue to excel. 

Topical and Live: Based across London and Salford, BBC Studios Topical and Live is a new creative business unit that encompasses The One Show, Consumer and Live and the topical unit based in Salford. Our aim is to make this unit a powerhouse in it's field, with credibility and expertise unmatched elsewhere in the market.

Where you are

Top-rated BBC tv show last night ? Oh yes, it's the BBC's Regional News and Weather at 6.30pm. 4.692 million viewers - a 31% share.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


"Bring together the different elements of the spectrum of activity under one umbrella leadership".

Just one of many daft lines in a depressing new job advert from the BBC. In the Thompson/Byford period, many elements of BBC training were run by former practitioners. Now, it's back in the hands of HR, and HR supremo Valerie Hughes D'Aeth. She's looking for a Director of Learning & Development.

"The ongoing development of a highly effective leadership cadre within the BBC is vital to enable the BBC's continued development as it enters a new period in its history with new governance structures, regulators and changes from economic pressures and new media....This role is also key to build on the recent re-organisation the BBC has undertaken and put in place formal succession planning for senior leadership roles. 

"With the Academy now under the accountability of the BBC HR Director there is a desire to bring these different elements under one cohesive group so that solutions can be more easily identified, designed and delivered to the business in a targeted and joined up way. The postholder will undertake the creation of this team and immediately deliver solutions pending the identification of a longer term organisational structure, a short term role has been identified to lead this work."

What ? Pending the identification of a longer term organisational structure ? Are we funking that again ?

Monday, August 29, 2016

French leave

A nice break from the rigours of W12 is not far away for BBC Worldwide Director Tim Davie and ten, yes ten, of his colleagues. They are heading to La Rochelle on September 14 for the French Festival of TV Fiction. Tim will make a special keynote on the Friday. Enjoy this Google translation. 

"We are all aware of the dramatic growth in TV fiction. Viewers do not have enough time to watch all the great dramas performed today, and for the writers and producers, this is a golden age. But where are we going ? Industry sees more opportunities, but the risk of failure seem more formidable than ever. Join Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide and Director, Global, for a speech about his thoughts on the market and its views on the key elements to perpetuate the creative and financial success of the genre."

Cultured ?

Plenty of job opportunities at the DCMS, if you move fast. They're looking for 10 people to be either Executive PAs or Policy Advisers (Band C - max £26k-ish) on two year contracts. Applications close tomorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Only eight flats in the redeveloped Television Centre have so far been sold to buyers from the Gulf; five to clients from Dubai, two from Saudi and one from Jordan. So next month, the developers are heading to Dubai, marketing apartments priced between £700k and £8m - which will work out 10% cheaper for purchasers from the Middle East post-Brexit.


© Mail
Back to the day job next week for delegates to the Edinburgh TV Festival. Advisory chair Fiona Campbell got into the swing of things by taking part in a version of Lip Sync Battle, hosted by Mel B and Professor Green. Her boss, BBC Director of News, James Harding, was also there, for a rather more staid Question Time session.

Now Fiona can get down to business running news on mobile and online. And perhaps change her twitter handle from @tvfiona.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Stephen Glover is the weekend-duty columnist at the Mail with special responsibility for being grumpy about the BBC.

He's frothing about James Purnell emerging as Director of Radio (not yet confirmed) without appropriate experience. I'm afraid it's happened in the past. Ian Trethowan arrived as Managing Director of Radio in 1970 from a tv presenting background, en route to the Director General's chair. He sacked Kenny Everett, made Radio 1 and Radio 2 share an afternoon show to save money, pushed forward with stereo broadcasts on FM, and saw the set-up of Radio Ulster.

Aubrey Singer came from tv in 1978, and set up banks of televisions in the Council Chamber for a party to watch the 1979 election results (which annoyed radio folk). He got into trouble with the BBC Orchestras - who doesn't ?

Brian Wenham came from tv in 1986, talked about 'the wireless', and retired early after two years.

Liz Forgan came from the Guardian in 1993, after experience as arts editor of the Tehran Journal, and reporting for the Ham and High and Evening Standard. She argued for, and got a Radio 5Live with a populist approach.

Marketing man Tim Davie emerged as Mark Thompson's man running 'wireless' in 2008. He had to handle the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross nonsense, and offered 6Music as a saving.

Friday, August 26, 2016

All the data you can eat

It must be a bit like the feeling when digital tills first let supermarkets know which customers were buying cat food and cheddar cheese. Interesting, perhaps, but what can you actually do with that sort of data ? Supermarkets have tried all sorts of loyalty schemes - points, vouchers, direct mail offers - trying to interest the cat food and cheese segment into purchases of crispy cod balls, cava and carnaroli rice - but how on earth does that work at the BBC ? Sorry, that should read 'myBBC'.

The myBBC project is supposed to be complete - but, hey, now the BBC wants to hire two 'data scientists'. The blurb suggests they've got the same sort of problems as Tesco. Yes, we know you're going online for comedy and current affairs - now what do we do ?

Imagine if Netflix, The Huffington Post, ESPN, and Spotify were all rolled into one - you’re starting to get close to what the BBC does online. The BBC’s world-class online products (iPlayer, News, Sport, Music, Learning, and many others) reach millions of audience members every week, and create around 1 Billion rows of data per day, but our work doesn’t stop there. We’re also working with other, “offline” parts of the BBC to help them gain an even better understanding of their audiences and aid their decision-making. We’re now looking for someone to join our team in these early stages and help shape and deliver our goals.....

You will be part of the myBBC Insights proposition supporting the development and implementation of data analytics, segmentation, direct marketing analytics and visualisation. You will use your experience in data analytics/data science to contribute towards designing and developing analytical assets, such as segmentations, to drive direct marketing campaigns and product decisions, reports on audience behaviour, and interactive dashboards. You will play a vital role in enabling large and complex data sets to be presented and accessed in a simple and intuitive format for all users, supporting interpretation and utilisation of the findings.

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