Thursday, December 22, 2016

A new chair is not just for Christmas.

Super exciting: Mark Kleinman at Sky and David Bond at the FT have found a new candidate for the BBC chair. 67-year-old "Queen of the Quangos" Dame Deirdre Hutton. Mark thinks it's her name, and that of Sir David Clementi, that are going forward from the selection panel to Bradley and May for consideration. Bond thinks that John Makinson, formerly of Penguin, may still be in the frame (but three is one more than a panel would normally put forward).

Soft-spoken Deirdre was brought up in a Calvinist family the north of Scotland and went to Sherborne School for Girls (alma mater to Maria Aitken, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Camilla Batmanghelidjh). She spent time in Palestinian refugee camps when she was 17, and two years in South Africa in her early twenties. There she managed to combine getting arrested in an apartheid protest with a professional singing part in the Magic Flute in Cape Town's new opera house - in Afrikaans.

She started working life as a secretary, married former BBC tv announcer and producer Alasdair Hutton in her thirties and brought up two children in Kelso while he went off to Brussels and Strasbourg as Tory MEP. The quangos starting coming in her forties, with an appointment to the Arts Council of Scotland, because of her interest in chamber music, Alasdair lost his seat, and it was his turn to look after the kids while Deirdre was on the road. The couple are now divorced, and Deirdre has a home in Barnes.

Her key quangos have been The National Consumer Council, The Food Standards Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority. She's been chair of the CAA since 2009 (not necessarily best practice, but she was re-appointed in 2014).

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