Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The fact that the Cambridge University Press got into such a tangle over acceding, however temporarily, to Chinese censorship demands, is all the more surprising when you remember that their CEO, Peter Phillips, spent 13 years with the BBC; he was also a trustee of Article 19, the press-freedom-campaign group for 4 years, and he is a member of council of The Publishers Association.

Monday, August 21, 2017

There's a place for us....

A chance to spend time with Sir Richard Rogers at the LSE on Wednesday 6 September, under the title "A Place for All People". Also on the panel will be his architectural muse and regular holiday companion, Alan Yentob.

The programme notes list many of Al's various job titles at the BBC; all are presented with a closing year, except Creative Director.

Making plans

The second set of minutes from the new BBC Board are out - they go back to May. At six pages, they're quite full compared with the last days of Executive "summary" minutes.

There's quite a lot going on, and, on occasions, it seems the new non-executives are actually probing. They quiz James Harding about the case brought by Sir Cliff Richard; they discuss the business model for BBC Studios and note that "further discussion around plans for the BBC’s commercial services would return later in the summer. "

And they discuss the draft Annual Plan. "Directors requested more detail around the proposed performance measurement framework, around the strategic challenges to public service broadcasting and in the proposals for distinctiveness by genre and service. The Annual Plan would return to the June Board meeting for approval." And when will we finally see it ?

Naming conventions.

In general, I'm against turning the Broadcasting House piazza into a colonnade of statues of broadcasting legends. (I was never comfortablee about furtive committees deciding who deserved have a meeting room named in their honour.)

I suspect the idea of a Bruce Forsyth statue will have some momentum, but let George Orwell be the only, quirky contribution in cast bronze or chiselled stone outside the BBC's headquarters.

There is, however, an opportunity at Television Centre, where Studio 1, the original home of Strictly Come Dancing, is about to re-open for business. The Sir Bruce Forsyth Studio. (Unless our commercial colleagues at BBC Studioworks have already given naming rights to some online betting group or lager brewer).

Saturday, August 19, 2017


The tangled ball of elastic bands that is the UK publicity eco-system is illustrated today by Jeremy Vine in the Daily Mail.

With the issue of BBC top presenter pay still alive, Jeremy has freshened up his forthcoming part-memoir with a few thoughts, and lo, the Mail, which needs the BBC to fill pages almost as much as it despises it, has published a generous extract.

It turns out Jeremy deemed himself underpaid as a Newsnight presenter, and when Radio 2 beckoned, he hired an agent (Alex Armitage of Noel Gay) and "told him to charge at the facing players like a fly-half after ten espressos."

Now he's on somewhere between £700k and £749k, which also covers Eggheads, Crimewatch, Points Of View and election graphic dancing - the BBC's fourth-highest-paid directly-employed presenter. His current view on BBC Management ? "The organisation seems to navigate by crashing into things."

Jeremy's book is called "What I Learnt: What My Listeners Say – and Why We Should Take Notice" (is there a possibility Jeremy has dispensed with the services of an editor ?) and is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, part of Hachette. Hachette also published regular collections of Daily Mail crosswords on the Hamlyn imprint.

Meanwhile Alex Armitage's outfit, Noel Gay, represents a range of BBC presenters who don't make more than £150k, including Emily Maitlis, Sarah Montague and Katie Derham. The Christmas party will be fun this year.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Coming together

The upcoming Royal Television Society's Cambridge Convention now has a pretty stellar line-up, and plenty of opportunities for some interesting side conversations.

Jay Hunt, outgoing Chief Creative Officer of C4 and Bake-Off borrower, can catch up with the BBC's James Purnell. (The Sun today suggests that BBC TV is still being beastly to Love Productions, who took their cakes away). James Murdoch can demonstrate how supremely fit and proper he is to run the whole of Sky to Karen Bradley, with illustrative clips from Fox News.  R4 Today editor Sarah Sands, who is barely yet a radio expert, never mind tv, takes her place in the list of speakers, supporting her boss and promoter, James Harding.

Michelle Guthrie, currently under Governmental hammer at Australian ABC, can catch up on defensive tactics with Lord Hall. And Andy Wilman, producer of The Grand Tour, might share some viewing figures. If not, why not ?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hand holder

"We are seeking a Senior HR Business Partner to join the Deputy Director General Group and support HR4HR."

The BBC's Human Resources department needs an HR person to look after them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


BBC Director of Arts Jonty Claypole says the long-awaited Civilisations is now slotted for February 2018, very close to its fourth birthday as an idea from DG Lord Hall - main presenter Simon Schama thought it was coming in the autumn of 2017.

Jonty told Brian Appleyard of the Sunday Times: “It’s not rigidly chronological, it’s thematic and chronological. Civilisation is an important part of the BBC’s history, and there is an exciting intellectual challenge in coming back to some of those core questions Clark raised, 50 years on, not trying to attempt a remake. I don’t think that would be wise. Instead, we’ll be engaging with some of the intellectual inquiries Clark was … We’re taking a global view of what art means to humanity over time and in different civilisations and cultures. Art is a prism through which we see what we have in common as human beings.”

 No, I don't know what he's on about either.


500 years since the start of the Reformation; 260 years since the birth of Thomas Telford; 150 years of the RNLI in Sheringham; 50 years of Milton Keynes; 40 years since Elvis died...all given coverage by BBC News.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Not long now

Around four weeks to go to the new look BBC Weather. It can't come a moment too soon - the Countryfile forecast on Sunday with Louise Lear was among a number of recent bulletins on the old system to hit the crash barrier.

Still the new system is in the hands of Creative Director, Yael Levey; she's created "6 personas" so that the design development serves a range of different needs. The personas are Jenny, Jade, Tim, Tony, Helen and Imran.

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