Friday, June 5, 2020

Tim era

The rush to judge has started. Tim Davie has won Twitter endorsements as BBC DG from Roger Mosey, Oliver Dowden, John Sweeney and George Osborne. Nothing much positive from women, yet.

Some amusing quotes: "A wet flannel. Literally the most average of average white men." "A chlorinated chicken in ostensibly human form". Others recall meetings where he moved the closure of Radio 6 Music, and fixed Chris Evans to 'save' Top Gear'. More as it comes in....

We note that the interview panel, BBC Chairman Sir David Clementi, with Board members Dame Elan Closs Stephens, Sir Nicholas Serota and Dr Ashley Steel, was not rich in journalistic experience.

Zooming to the top

The BBC's in-house Iron Man Tim Davie CBE has seen off insiders and outsiders to become the Corporation's 17th Director General.

It means the job stays in Henley, or technically, just outside, in the village of Peppard, where Mr Davie has land enough to host charity running races.

Tim had a flirtation with The Premier League earlier this year, where he might have expected to treble his salary - and now will have to do with even less as he moves from the bonus-led job of running the commercial BBC Studios, the BBC's highest paid employee, to the full public service scrutiny of the DG role.

This blog has occasionally accused him of Davie-speak, where sentences are assembled and look ok, but actually don't turn out to mean much. Let's hope he's been working on that. And maybe DG Tim can persuade BBC Studios to buy back BBC America, a daft deal struck by Worldwide CEO Tim. On other fronts, Mr Davie has views about duplication in BBC News, which may be no bad thing.

Let's see how he sorts out his team for a September launch....

DG 2020 - 17

More than one correspondent on the tv beat thinks we might be on the verge of a new DG for the BBC; contradicting the Guardian story of mid-May that the whole process had been nudge back to September....

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Two wheels return

Yalding House on Great Portland Street, until 2012 part of the BBC Property portfolio, is now almost completely let to new tenants, after refurbishment by British Land.

It was built in 1930, with the ground floor as a motorbike showroom. The BBC took a long lease in 1952, using the ground and basement floor loadings to store sheet music and vinyl. Now at least part of the basement has a bike workshop, with racks, lockers and shower rooms for 56 cyclists - and a dedicated back door and bike lift.

Eye test

Those allowed back to work at Broadcasting House are finding patterns of blue dots swirling before their eyes. The dots have been stuck on carpets to indicate Covid-19 safe "preferred direction of travel"; the normal alert colours of red and amber, have, of course, already been incorporated into the building's interior design. 

An overheard conversation between two Beeboids: "Isn't this ridiculous ?" "Yes, and I'm the one putting them down". 

Up and away

Wise-cracking BBC News executive Jonathan Munro, keeper of the keys to The Helicopter of Aerial Journalism, has won a seat on the Board of Trustees of Comic Relief. Children in Need.

I'll have a word with the newsroom, J.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Easing Al's lockdown

Al's getting quite handy with Zoom. On Monday Mr Yentob was interviewing former Disney boss Michael Eisner, 78, locked down in LA, for the benefit of Aspen UK, which aims to improve leadership skills in this side of the pond.

Mr Eisner and his son Eric are looking forward to the return of football at Fratton Park, as owners of Portsmouth FC.  The vote on what to do with the League One 2019/20 season comes on June 8 - the same day visitors from LA may be asked to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK.

Alan is among a number of the BBC's 'talent' over 70 who have been stopped from entering BBC buildings - until this week. They still have to get bosses' approval, face temperature checks, and make their own risk assessments.

Do you know who you're talking to ?

The BBC's development of its own 'voice' application, Beeb, announced last August, has moved to 'Beta' stage (a bit like the Government's exciting Covid-19 app), with Microsoft Windows Insiders allowed to play, rather than the Isle of Wight.

Grace Boswood, COO of BBC Design and Engineering, tells the Guardian it's a defensive move. She imagines the possibility of BBC listeners selecting their next option via a US-developed voice assistant:"The threat to us is, ‘You’ve finished the Archers, here’s a Joe Rogan podcast."

To make sure users know it's British, they've selected a male voice from somewhere near Manchester. Sadly, they've also adopted a rather American sounding 'wake-up' instruction, 'Hey Beeb'.

The BBC doesn't intend to make Beeb products, but says the software could be shared with manufacturers.

Portland Place

Pop-up cycle lanes painted in now, to deliver breathless Beeboids to Broadcasting House, W1.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Another one bites the dust

Times Radio has signed up Mariella Frostrup as it heads towards a launch on 29th June. She'll host the early afternoon, Monday to Thursday. It'll be "a show focusing on arts, culture and social issues, plus celebrity interviews", which sounds uncannily like that offered by Nihal Arthanayake on Radio 5 Live at the same time of day.

Ms Frostrup (57, school of hard knocks) started out with BBC Radio back in the days of Radio 5, co-hosting Sunday Brunch with Simon Fanshawe, and her own health and fitness phone-in, Top to Bottom. Open Book, on Radio 4, started in 2002, and has since notched up 545 editions, with three more still to come.

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