Monday, June 24, 2019


It's popstar PR stuff now - the Mail has pictures of Boris and Carrie holding hands at a picnic table 'in Sussex' at the weekend. Presumably, though taken from a distance, there's no question of the Mail worrying about invasion of privacy. Spookily, there's no copyright notice on the two snaps.

Is it Lynton Crosby running the BoJo publicity machine, or has Simon Cowell's team moved in ?


Three new films are on their way from BBC1 arts flagship, imagine.... (Series Editor and Presenter Alan Yentob).

Our hero has already been to Harlem, for the profile of artist Faith Ringgold. The programme on of Olafur Eliasson offers opportunity for travel to Copenhagen and Berlin.  And Edna O'Brien will probably require the presenter to make a difficult journey into that bit of Knightsbridge behind Harrods.

The Kardashians

It's not going away. Helpful 'friends' say the Johnson/Symonds tiff was understandable; both are under pressure, and there have been four 'explosive' rows in six weeks. Unhelpful friends say Johnson is regretting it all, and wants to go back to Marina to get his mojo back.

The Sun seems to know where the couple are staying, and much more. The Sun also contains some Olympian humbug from Trevor Kavanagh, demanding the dismantling of the BBC. Many papers enjoy reporting Dr Liam Fox, saying Boris should just 'give an explanation' about his personal life.

Will Team Boris now focus on removing blither from their candidate's line on Brexit, or digging into the past of Jeremy 'Weekite' Hunt ?  Watch the Telegraph for more....

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Holding pattern

Even the doyenne of radio criticism, Gillian Reynolds, is baffled by the lack of a new Controller at Radio 4; this from the (paywalled) Sunday Times today...

"By the time you read this, Radio 4 may have its new controller. Odd, how long it’s taken. Gwyneth Williams announced her resignation in January. Rumours about successors promptly flew. In May, an official source told me the announcement would come soon. How soon? Very soon, the source said, eyeing me firmly. That was six weeks ago. Williams, meanwhile, has left the building."


Mildly amused to learn that the Georgian house on Brunswick Park, Camberwell, currently attracting tv cameras, was a hostel for the homeless in the 1980s. This century, it was re-converted into four apartments, each boasting an integrated Smeg espresso machine (currently retailing at £1k+).  Espresso, red wine ?  The risk register for carpets and furniture must have been extensive.


In BBC News job interviews at the turn of the century, those asking the questions indulged in a fad for hypotheticals. We'd start with unlikely scenarios, and then twist their development in conversation with the applicant, trying to lead them into the myriad bunkers and long grass on the BBC golf course that is Editorial Policy. It was generally fun for both sides, as improvisation kept the storyline going.

I'm not sure we had the breadth of imagination to develop a strand quite like the events in a certain Camberwell flat on Thursday night into Friday morning. For those at Broadcasting House the following night, the angst of deciding how to handle coverage of the Guardian scoop must have been intense and prolonged.  What to do about a single source story only given at that stage to one newspaper ?

Those on shift can now take comfort that, by piecing together lines from other residents in various papers, we can be certain it was a humdinger of a row, and checking that the couple was ok was the right course of action, when they wouldn't answer their door.

Will the tape ever emerge ?  Will Carrie go back to the flat ? Will Boris ? Should the BBC be on the case ?

Below, a Metropolitan Police cinema ad from 2010...

Friday, June 21, 2019

Update ?

It's now close to eight months since the Big Launch of BBC Sounds, and one might think it time for a progress report.

The advertising doesn't seem to have stopped. Urban billboards are peppered with the art-work of Mother Design, part of the Mother ad agency. Mother don't come cheap, despite using offices in Shoreditch, London, and Hell's Kitchen, New York. They also operate in Los Angeles and Shanghai, The UK business turned over £52m in their most recent published figures. Mother's creative directors in London are Brazilian husband and wife, Hermeti and Ana Balarin.

Making news travel further

Declan Wilson is the new Head of TV and Online News for BBC England. "This is a key role in the BBC England management team, reporting to Helen Thomas, with responsibility for developing a strategy for TV and digital audiences in the English regions and ensuring their journalism travels further."

Declan came to public attention as line manager of Dan Johnson, begetter of the BBC News' 2015 entry to the Royal Television Society for Scoop Of The Year: Sir Cliff Richard.  In 2018 Mr Justice Mann, amongst other financial penalties, took an extra £20k of the BBC for that entry - and offered this note on Mr Wilson.

Mr Wilson's most recent successes within BBC News include launching a new Korean service.

Life after Auntie

How's it going for Anne Bulford, recently parted from her salary of at least £435k p.a. as Deputy Director General of the BBC ?

She's just emerged as a new non-executive director at Reach PLC (formerly Trinity Mirror) where she will chair the Audit & Risk committee. The previous incumbent got £53k for the role; mind you, Reach worries about risk - the word is used nearly 300 times in the last annual report.

Reach chairman is Nick Prettejohn. Nick was a member of the BBC Trust for three years up until its demise in 2017, and made it to the final shortlist to replace Lord Patten; David Cameron chose Rona Fairhead.

Will Anne have to bite the hand that used to feed her ?  Reach is a member of the News Media Association which campaigns on the view that "The BBC News website has had a profound impact on the digital strategies of UK news media publishers who are forced to compete with a state-funded provider of news and information which is free to consumers at the point of delivery."  However, Reach is the biggest single beneficiary of the BBC Local Democracy Reporter scheme, running nearly half the 'shared' reporters which are funded by £8m taken annually from licence-fee income.

Meanwhile we note that Anne, who started her career with KPMG. has returned to the mother ship, and joined the accountants' UK Public Interest Board (salary undisclosed).

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Growth in job

We've had three years of the BBC division, Design + Engineering, which brought together teams from BBC Digital, BBC Engineering and BBC Worldwide with a view to saving some money and providing some technical cohesion.

In December 2017, the D + E headcount was 2,700. According to a recent FoI request, it's now 3,124.

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