Time to cut down the BBC dead wood

FORGIVE me if I’ve got my wires crossed, but isn’t the Government supposed to be giving the BBC a good shake-up on the orders of Shiny Dave himself?

He was supposed to be doing so when licence-fee critic John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, joined the all-Tory cabinet – but it looks like any real action is a long way off.

This week it was revealed that the BBC news presenter Eddie Mair earns a massive £425,000 a year – nearly three times what Shiny Dave himself takes home. The salary keeps the Radio 4 PM presenter just under the £450,000 earnings threshold that requires salaries to be publicly disclosed. The details of Mair’s bumper earnings still snuck out to the delight of Fleet Street’s finest thanks to a “Radio 4 source”.

The changes came into force after Whittingdale unveiled his white paper on the corporation’s future, but because those who earn less than £450,000 are exempt from this ridiculous renumeration package, most of them will be able to hide in the wings. Whittingdale opted to force the BBC to expose those on more than £450,000 like Gary Lineker, Graham Norton and Chris Evans – but nothing has happened yet. Auntie Beeb needs to get her ducks in a row and be accountable to us British licence-fee-paying public.


THE other thing Auntie needs to do, and sharpish, is to flush out some of the dead wood on the radio. I am sick and tired of listening to 72-year-old John Humphries playing ‘show-off’ on the Today programme. Move over and retire. Your interviews are about you trying desperately to be clever, not being at all incisive and speaking all over the people you’re interviewing.

At least James Naughtie had the good grace to stop getting up at 3am and move on to something more cultured. The Old Guys Rule behaviour at the Beeb has to stop. More young blood like Mishal Husain needs to be able to shine. And as for the adenoidally-challenged Melvyn Bragg – get rid of him now. I have a special remote button that switches him off as soon as he takes that sharp nasal intake of breath before In Our Time. There are much fresher voices out there with careers to build. Go home and take your fat pensions will you please?

Mind you, things are no better on Breakfast on FiveLive. It’s a massive relief to switch on in the morning and find that Nicky Campbell is on a day off. He’s another one who thinks the sound of his own voice is more important than the stories he is supposed to be relaying. Why can he never switch to the sports headlines without cracking some inane joke? I can’t carry on repairing the radio that I keep flinging across the bathroom.


I’M SO glad I don’t work in PR. Imagine the mobile phone meltdown of Manchester United’s PR people after last weekend’s dummy bomb fiasco? A damage limitation exercise could not even describe its depths of incompetence. It is rumoured the almighty cock-up has cost the club a cool £3 million.

Chris Reid, the boss of Security Search Management and Solutions, has apologised unreservedly for the massive blunder, but it will remain in the nation’s psyche for a long time to come. The cops and emergency services did a fantastic job getting everyone out of the stadium but it still remains that it was a stunningly shoddy security job, where an allegedly fake and ‘obvious’ nail bomb was left inadvertently in a toilet. Surely, you count them out and you count them back. It makes you wonder just how safe we are sometimes.


MY WIFE is quite a feisty piece and when she read the story about a 27-year-old woman being sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels, she lost it. Nicola Thorp was banished by PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper in my day) for not wearing four-inch heels. She has since set up a petition demanding women be given the right to wear flat formal shoes at work.

It may sound odd coming from a middle-aged man, but I once took part in a charity event called Walk a Mile in My Shoes and my feet were blistered and bloodied after a mile in a pair of size 10 stilettos. I daren’t suggest to my wife that she might want to wear her size-four high heels on a night out. She’d probably put one of the spikes through my skull.


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Kevan Blackadder

Written by Kevan Blackadder

Kevan Blackadder is a media consultant who runs Blackadder Media Limited. Kevan was previously editor of the Gloucestershire Echo and assistant editor of the Bristol Post. A Cumbrian who moved to the South West “for a couple of years” in the 1980s, he can’t quite believe he’s been there ever since.

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