Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Just below the surface

You get the feeling that former BBC executive Helen Boaden is close to telling some gripping tales about her time with Auntie. This week came a gentle probing by Jane Garvey at The Groucho Club, and then Trevor Dann tried a post-interview interview for the Radio Today podcast.

Some insights - she still worries that radio and radio audiences are at risk from a management more focussed on tv and online: "It's my great fear...that they'll do something daft". She confirmed that there had been plans to redistribute network radio into new divisions [see various three-humped Camel diagrams]: "I opposed it, but it wasn't me alone. I think Tim Davie said something similar".

She managed not to mention Director of Radio & Education & Odds & Ends, James Purnell: "I have confidence in Bob [Shennan] and the Controllers".

Meanwhile, Jane Garvey risked a pop at Bob, or at least his former fiefdom, Radio 2: "Radio 2 doesn't look or sound much like the Britain I know".

Summer relief

The summer will bring new tests for Sarah Sands, now tweeting away at the helm of the Today programme on Radio 4.

Despite having a generous home team of presenters - Humphrys, Robinson, Webb, Montague and Husain - and only 12 shifts a week to fill, they'll all want time off once the election is over, and then we'll see who Sarah tries out. Will she stand by Matthew Price, the programme's "Chief Correspondent", or will there be baptisms for new female voices ? And has she unlocked the Big Leather Book of Today Programme Promises - promises made by executives above Today Editor level, to senior News hacks looking for a nice earner when they come off the road ? Anna Ford, Ed Stourton and Justin Webb all arrived as surprises of varying scale to the incumbent Today Editors.

Nick Robinson had his eye on programme presenting from 2002, and he formally got the gig in November 2015. Who's currently on manoeuvres heading in a similar direction ?


Whilst BBC kebab-nauts wait for the new incarnation of the original Efes on Great Titchfield Street, Efes 2, up Great Portland Street, has already been transformed - into Kibele. No longer just Turkish, but Anatolian cuisine (though apparently that still alows the inevitable moussaka and mixed grill) and attracting celebs of the calibre of Michelle Heaton and Jenni Falconer.

Kibele - or Cybele - was the Phrygian mother goddess of the BC period, and her cult spread to Athens and Rome. Phrygia's most famous King ? Midas.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The 'Andrew Neil Interviews', in which our hunched hero attempts to skewer those who seek to lead the UK, was watched by an average of 2.9m (17.1% share) last night.

His knee-to-knee discussion with Theresa May may have sent One Show regulars scuttling for other channels - after all, they've already seen Mrs May held to account, haven't they ?


Former BBC Director of News, Radio and England, Helen Boaden was guest of the Media Society at the Groucho Club in London last night, lightly grilled by Jane Garvey.

The event was entitled "Goodbye to all that", the title of Robert Graves bitter-sweet autobiography, regret the changing of old orders. From tweets, we gather Helen thought the BBC Trust, led by Lord Patten, should have chosen Caroline Thomson as Director General in succession to Mark Thompson, rather than George Entwistle. And that she'd been offered $4 p.a. to join CNN.  More, and I expect there was more good stuff, as we get it...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Legging it

Check leisure trousers come in blue as well as red. Keeping across the Cannes Film Festival on your behalf, as ever.

Readies it is

Not as close as recent referenda, but Johnston Press management saw some opposition to their proposed change in directors' pay policy at their AGM today.

67.96% of those voting agreed with the move to giving bonuses in cash, rather than shares (currently trading just above 15p each). 32.04% voted against.


Sometimes, it seems, the good taste and decency antennae on the best of journalists fail them. Nathan Turvey has a degree in media and journalism (2.1) from the University of Worcester, and has worked in and around BBC local radio for nineteen years. Perhaps it was a misguided producer who constructed the Sunday morning quiz on BBC Radio Leeds, but Nathan, no relation to Rik Mayall's breakthrough investigative journalist Kevin, still conducted it without dissent, as if it mattered.

The BBC has apologised, but it's not a good time for local radio to produce work beyond parody. Clip hosted by Radio Today.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cold store

The Telegraph believes the BBC is about to close the digital doors of the BBC Store, wherein customers pay to downloard gems from an archive built with their licence fees. It's been running for around 18 months, but was years in gestation. Mark Thompson revealed the project, code-named Barcelona, in the same week he announced he would be leaving as DG, back in March 2012.

The problem is that there's more money to be made stitching the archive into packages to bulk out the streaming services of Netflix, Amazon and their competitors. The Telegraph says the Store "has failed to hit commercial targets". We may learn more from the annual report of BBC Worldwide - note 'may'.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tom's dad

When Tom Ilube was appointed as a non-executive director of the BBC, we mentioned that his father had worked as a tv engineer for Auntie in the 60s.

Now Tom has revealed in a blog post that he recounted his father's story during the interview process that got him to the new BBC Board.

(Sadly, it's not very revealing about the work of the Board; we've had no minutes from the Executive or the Board since February.)

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