Friday, January 6, 2017

The Apprentice DG - James P

2017 will be a big year for BBC Director of Radio and Education, James Purnell. The strategist-turned-politician-turned-strategist has now to prove he can handle content and content-makers.

Now a Hoxton Hipster and Daddy, Jim has demonstrated chameleon qualities throughout his career, and currently happily twitters eclectically across his portfolio - from Mozart to Annie Mac, from the BeeGees to Baba Yaga's Hut, from In Our Time to iPlayer for Kids.  According to the Guardian, he thinks he looks a little like Daniel Craig; according to Gillian Reynolds in The Telegraph, he could be played by Mark Gatiss (with his radio minder Bob Shennan played by Kevin Whately).

Some of his deliverables look tricky. Lord Hall gave him the job of sorting out a new line on religion and ethics output; very few people have an idea what an Ideas Service might look like, and so far we've heard little articulation; and the impending implementation of "Compete and Compare" principles (prop: Purnell, J) in network radio has invoked anxiety from former big radio cheeses like Jenny Abramksy and Roger Mosey, and stress in the staff managed day-to-day by Kevin Bob Shennan.

First task, however, is to make sure he's one of the four BBC staffers on the new unitary board. Hall, Bulford and Harding are shoo-ins; Charlotte Moore, running tv, has a very strong case to elbow out our Jimmie, and may sulk if she loses out.  Purnell, often in the cross-hairs of Tory politicians, needs to find many more supporters in the industry if he's to compete for the top job; an RTS spat with C4's Jay Hunt over Bake-Off in September wasn't the best start to a long-term campaign.

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