THE ARCHIVE

AN ARCHIVE OF NEWSPAPER COMMENT, TWEETS, GOSSIP AND MORE COVERING THE RECRUITMENT OF GEORGE ENTWISTLE AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BBC; HE RESIGNED ON 10TH NOVEMBER 2012
Sunday 11th July.. 

A new site starts.... 



Wednesday 4th July

It's George Entwistle, 49, BBC Director of Vision.  He was always short odds with the bookies, starting at around 7/4, then only briefly drifting to 4/1. Congratulations to Quentin Letts, who quoted an unnamed Cabinet Minister as tipping George.  Toby Syfret at Enders Analysis also went early for George. 


The Guardian

The next director general of the BBC is expected to be named on Wednesday after the second round of interviews took place on Tuesday. Those understood to have made it through to the final shortlist for the most powerful job in UK broadcasting include the BBC chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, the BBC Vision director, George Entwistle, and the Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards. There is speculation that there is a fourth candidate but their name is as yet unknown



Monday 2nd July Ian Burrell in The Independent

... it is looking unlikely that we will be getting our first female director general of the BBC, in spite of Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer, and Helen Boaden, director of news, being among the early front-runners.




Saturday 30th June: Statement from FT to The Guardian

"Reports in the press that Lionel Barber has been interviewed for the role of the Director General of the BBC are incorrect"


Friday 29th June: Hugh Muir's Diary in The Guardian

The runners and riders for the right to follow Mark Thompson as BBC director general have been whittled down for the second-round interviews. But who is in the field bar the obvious internal candidates who have not, the Diary gathers, overwhelmed the chair of the BBC Trust Lord Patten? Among the outsiders who still loom large in the chair's mind are said to be Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, Channel 4 creative supremo Jay Hunt, the omnipresent Ofcom chief Ed Richards. And one surprise – John Berry, artistic director of the English National Opera. The Radio 3 candidate. Quiet please.



Wednesday 27th June London Evening Standard: Media Analysis by Roy Greenslade

So who of the supposed eight candidates can best do the job, given its scale and complexity? Of the four internal candidates — Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, Tim Davie, director of audio and music, George Entwistle, director of BBC Vision and Caroline Thomson, chief operating officer — I have previously favoured Boaden. News is fundamental to the corporation’s output and I still think she is in with a shout. 

 We know one of the external quartet of candidates who has been interviewed — the Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. He is a clever chap with plenty of political nous but totally without broadcasting experience. 

One other possible outsider is said to be Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, who would be an interesting choice. He certainly knows how to lead but, like Richards, has not worked in TV and radio. I cannot really imagine a BBC director-general without any grounding in either the corporation or in broadcasting. So, unless there is a dark horse, it will be an inside appointment. Lord Patten must choose well to ensure the BBC regains its kudos.







Monday 25th June London Evening Standard

The race to be BBC director-general is wide open with up to 10 candidates getting first-round interviews, senior broadcasting figures said today. The BBC Trust will conduct second-round interviews with four or five candidates in the coming days. “External candidates have been very good at keeping their heads below the parapet,” said a source close to the process. Ed Richards, chief executive of regulator Ofcom, is the only confirmed external candidate. Four internal BBC hopefuls have applied: head of vision George Entwistle; head of news Helen Boaden; head of audio and music Tim Davie; and chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. It is thought there at least four external candidates, with reports of at least one surprise “international” contender, prolonging the interview process, which could now take until early July.


Friday 22nd June: Ofcom letter to The Times

The article, ‘Ofcom chief’s bid for top job at the BBC raises questions over conflict of interest’ (22 June 2012), gives an inaccurate and therefore misleading account of how potential conflicts of interest have been handled at Ofcom. Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom Board, have been put in place to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. These were enacted on 8 May, immediately after Ofcom CEO Ed Richards applied for the BBC Director General role. 

Ed Richards made the decision to apply on the weekend before the deadline because this was a major personal decision. It is untrue that the reason was “in order to stay involved in BBC matters”. As Ofcom has explained to The Times, the Ofcom Board agreed and finalised the contents of the report on measuring media plurality and Ed Richards was not involved in this. 

Colette Bowe Chairman, Ofcom



Wednesday 20th June: Media Monkey in The Guardian

Rumours are fun, but speculation can be tedious. Jay Hunt, supposedly, was seen at the BBC on Thursday at last week, no doubt having snuck out of Horseferry Road via one of the holes on the set of Million Pound Drop – a tale so entertaining that it has prompted a slew of phone calls to Channel 4 demanding to know if the programming supremo is indeed in the running for the director generalship of the BBC. "It's nonsense," says Hunt – who, in any event, spent Thursday at the C4 headquarters much in the way that Gordon Ramsay spends a day in Brixton Prison. Inside. Hunt, Monkey is reliably informed, is "sure she'd remember if she'd been interviewed" and will not be interviewed, which means she has no need to dress like Grayson Perry in order to slip past David Abraham and go back to her desk either.
 






Tuesday 19th June: Hugh Muir in The Guardian

And still we wait to learn who will seize the crown that is director general of the BBC, when Mark Thompson makes his exit. Will it be Ofcom boss Ed Richards, subject of another hatchet job yesterday in the Daily Mail? Or Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer? Helen Boaden, director of BBC News? Or indeed the internal favourite, George Entwistle, director of BBC Vision? We don't know. We know it won't be David Abraham, head of C4, for he ruled himself out of the race early on. But, as an ambitious sort, he may therefore be surprised to learn that Jay Hunt, his chief creative officer, was designated a person of interest by headhunter Egon Zehnder and Lord Patten, chair of the BBC Trust. Hunt, you may recall, was previously a BBC1 controller and much maligned over the Miriam O'Reilly ageism scandal, which saw the presenter avenge her sudden axing from the Countryfile programme with a tribunal victory and hefty damages. Hunt's return would make life interesting. Ex-colleagues have the smelling salts ready.

Thursday 15th June: 



Monday 11th June: London Evening Standard

Interviews for the next BBC director-general begin this week amid recriminations over the flotilla coverage. Most national newspapers have noted this but the FT has scant mention of the race to succeed Mark Thompson. Could FT editor Lionel Barber be too busy shining his own shoes for a job interview?


Steve Richards in The Independent, on the issues facing Lord Patten

His main concerns are the correct ones – the level of executive remuneration, the related issue of the number of managers, and a tendency for a small, but significant, part of the output to lapse into unconvincing populism. These concerns are also expressed to him by senior figures from all political parties and from within the Beeb. When the BBC still published an in-house newspaper, Patten would circle the posts advertised that he regarded as non-jobs. There were many circles. Privately, he was telling senior managers long before the Jubilee about his worries in relation to populism. Those close to him say he is also aware that, so far, managerial cuts have been achieved largely by "tricks and mirrors". Nonetheless, he remains a devotee of the BBC, a Conservative unfazed by comically unjustified attacks from Conservative newspapers about bias. John Birt was never a popular DG internally, but the BBC could do with some Birtist rigour and sense of distinctive mission. I suspect Patten agrees. One of his last tasks in an extraordinary career is to ensure the next DG agrees, too. 


 Monday 4th June: Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian

Ed Richards must be an optimist. The Ofcom chief executive may have made the shortlist for the top executive job at the BBC. But it would be interesting to listen to the phonecall from Lord Patten to Jeremy Hunt, who looks set to endure as secretary of state for culture, media and sport this side of the Olympics, in which the BBC Trust chairman tells him that his choice was a former political adviser to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Hunt, whose amicable exterior belies a certain tribalism, as judged by his emails critical of "Mark Thompson/Guardian/Channel 4" thinking, might not be terribly impressed. 


Saturday 2 June: Variety reports

Outside the company, the favorite to take over from Thompson is Ed Richards, a former BBC strategy head who's currently the CEO of U.K. media regulator Ofcom. Richards lacks creative experience, but that may not be a problem in the current environment. For the first time, the job spec of director-general prizes experience in international operations over that in programming or journalism.....

In some quarters, there is even a suggestion that the job spec was written with Richards, a former aide to ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, in mind. Patten, who served ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as the last governor of Hong Kong, is likely to favor someone who will not be reluctant to do his bidding on occasion. 

Still, there is astonishment that the preferred candidate could be someone lacking editorial experience. [Ray] Snoddy speaks for many in the U.K. broadcasting community when he says that considering a BBC director general without a background in journalism or production is "insane."

"The reality is that almost all DGs have been either internal people or someone who has worked there recently, and who have a tried-and-tested background in program making," he says. 

Thursday 31st May: Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian

Caroline Thomson and Tim Davie have been shortlisted to become the BBC's next director general, with first interviews due to take place in a fortnight's time for the most influential job in British television. Insiders said that all four internal candidates have been put on the list – with the other two contenders being George Entwistle, director of vision, and BBC News director Helen Boaden, although their inclusion has not been separately verified. Candidates were told on Monday that they would be seen by Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, and Diane Coyle, the trust vice chairman, in meetings scheduled to take place on the 11 and 12 June, according to those familiar with the appointment process for the post.....

So far Ed Richards, the Ofcom chief executive, is the only external candidate to have been smoked out – the fact that he had been told he had been shortlisted is understood to have prompted the communications regulator to confirm that he was a candidate on Monday.

 
Monday 28th May OFCOM statement

"Given the significant level of speculation surrounding potential applicants for the BBC Director General role, Ofcom can confirm that CEO Ed Richards has applied. Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom Chairman and the Board, have been put in place to prevent any potential conflict of interest. 

Ed has already stepped aside from all discussions and communication at all levels on matters where the BBC may have an interest. This includes Board meetings, executive meetings and policy discussions, both formal and informal".





Sunday 27th May: Richard Brooks in The Sunday Times

THE head of the broadcasting watchdog, who is a leading candidate for the job of running the BBC, has been accused of a potential conflict of interest by two senior Tory MPs. Ed Richards... has been running an inquiry at Ofcom into whether the corporation should be included in a new definition of the “plurality” of media organisations. This would mean considering whether the BBC’s market share should be limited by law in the same way that private-sector media companies are restricted from growing too big. “Ofcom is not only a publicly funded body but, because it and Richards are currently looking at the BBC and plurality, there is potential conflict of interest here,” said Philip Davies, MP for Shipley and a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. “If Richards were to conclude that the BBC were not to be included in any definition of plurality, it might question his motives if he was in for the DG’s job.” John Whittingdale, the committee’s Tory chairman, also expressed concerns. “While it would be unfair to exclude Richards from running as DG, if he is a live candidate, as it were, he should not be making or taking any decisions about plurality and the BBC. He must leave the room when Ofcom is discussing this issue.” Both Davies and Whittingdale believe that Ofcom should recommend the BBC is included in any definition of plurality.

Thursday 24th May Stephen Glover in The Mail

Lord Patten is believed to like the look of Mr [Ed] Richards. If so, one can be practically certain that the Labour man will end up as director-general since the chairman is good at getting his way, and members of the BBC Trust (they used to be called Governors) will do what he tells them...............

Maybe the most damning charge that can be laid against Mr Richards is not that he is a Labour apparatchik or a bloodless technocrat who has enriched himself on the public payroll (salary nearly £400,000 a year) without ever doing what most of us would regard as a proper job. No, it is that he has never shown the slightest evidence of creativity. He has never made a programme in his life. He is a member of the new bossy administrative class — managerial, cautious, working in the shadows, and living like a potentate despite never producing any wealth. Give me any of the internal candidates, however Leftie they may be: director of news Helen Boaden or director of vision George Entwistle — though I would draw the line at chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. At least they have made programmes, and know something about creating good television and radio rather than simply regulating it. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2148983/The-thing-Biased-Broadcasting-Corporation-needs-Labour-stooge-helm.html#ixzz1vlL9IoR5 Thursday 17th May: Blogger Tradingaswdr writes..

At last, some movement in the odds at the bookies for the 2012 BBC DG Stakes - with money coming in for Ofcom boss Ed Richards. Paddy Power now make him clear favourite, at 7/4. Caroline Thomson and George Entwistle are on 3/1, and Helen Boaden on 6/1, alongside former C4 boss Michael Jackson.. Online bookies Bodog also make Ed 7/4, with George Entwistle 2/1 and Caroline Thomson on 7/2. Helen Boaden is 4/1.


Wednesday 16th May: Leviathian in The Economist damns internal candidates with faint praise.... 

Many are capable organisers. Some are more flexible than others. So far, no one stands out as having the kind of charisma and abilities that Lord Patten compares to the skills base of Wayne Rooney (the footballer) and Aristotle (the philosopher). Either the Trust will have to compromise on its requirements—or a dark horse needs to show a flash of innovative form.



Meanwhile, the Guardian picks up comments from former Chairman Sir Michael Lyons, who echoes the line that there isn't an outstanding internal candidate...

"There isn't one. I don't believe Mark has a preferred candidate either. It is important that there is as wide a search as possible... basically to look elsewhere in the public sector"




Monday 14th May: Tweet from Ray Snoddy

David Elstein the broadcaster's informal bookie reveals at RTS lunch Ed Richards of Ofcom is a shoo-in as next director general of the BBC





Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.


 


Saturday 12th May: Quentin Letts in The Mail

If you want a flutter, take the tip I had from a Cabinet minister the other day and place your shekels on George Entwistle, one of the BBC’s more impressive internal candidates.




Sunday 6th May: Richard Brooks in The Sunday Times.. 

THE head of Britain’s broadcasting watchdog has emerged as a frontrunner for the job of leading the BBC, pitted against a long-serving corporation insider. Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, is expected to apply for the job of director-general, which will become vacant when Mark Thompson leaves in the autumn.........

Richards main opponent will be George Entwistle, 49, the BBC’s director of television, who has worked for the corporation for 23 years. A report commissioned for the BBC trustees — chaired by Lord Patten, the former Tory cabinet minister — singles out Entwistle as the best qualified internal candidate, editorially and in terms of experience. 

Entwistle has emerged as the favourite in the past week. He is liked by Patten, an important factor because the chairman and director-general need to work together.



Thursday 3rd May: Dan Sabbagh and Tara Conlan in The Guardian.. 

David Abraham, Channel 4's chief executive, will not apply to become the next leader of the BBC, a path that was successfully trodden by the incumbent director general Mark Thompson eight years ago. The boss of the Homeland broadcaster has told friends he believes that it is too soon to contemplate leaving Channel 4, having only spent two years in the job and recruited most of its senior team.....

It is understood that Jana Bennett, the former BBC Vision boss, now president of worldwide networks and global iPlayer at the corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, is also considering applying, but that BBC North director Peter Salmon is not going to put his name forward.......

Tony Hall, the well regarded Royal Opera House chief executive, who previously ran BBC News, is also not applying, despite speculation to the contrary at the corporation...

Dominic Loehnis from Egon Zehnder has been talking to a number of people within the industry to gauge opinion, including, it is understood, Channel 4's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt.








Variety

LONDON -- ABC Entertainment Group prexy Paul Lee is being courted for the top job at the BBC. It's understood that Beeb-affiliated execs have reached out to the Alphabet topper in recent weeks, though sources say that Lee has no intent of taking the post.  Lee is coming off a strong season at ABC in which the network fielded successful new series in "Once Upon a Time," "Revenge" and "Suburgatory," plus other promising newcomers...

Lee first joined the BBC in 1984 as a general trainee and in 1990 moved to drama, where he produced, directed and wrote TV movies. He ultimately served as channel editor for BBC Prime, the company's 24-hour entertainment channel.



Thursday 26th April: Londoner Diary in the Evening Standard

Is the BBC’s televisual rottweiler Jeremy Paxman looking for a promotion? The Londoner understands that the Newsnight presenter could be gunning to become the next director-general. Rumour has it that Paxman has formally applied for the position, which the BBC is advertising since Mark Thompson announced his intention to step down later this year. ..... . The Londoner has left messages for Paxman all over the place but he hasn’t responded.
 




Monday 23rd April: Londoner Diary in the Evening Standard:

Last month, the Londoner noted that the upper echelons of the BBC mentioned the name of the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber as a potential successor to current director- general Mark Thompson. The BBC Trust’s chairman Lord Patten is thought to be keen to interview outside candidates as well as the big beasts within the BBC. Now a new name has entered the frame, that of English National Opera director John Berry. “Patten knows Berry and is said to have been impressed by his overhaul of the National Opera,” says Prospect magazine.


 Richard Kay in the Daily Mail

....bad news for staffers who hoped ex-Radio 4 boss Mark Damazer, seen as a dark horse candidate, would apply. Damazer, who quit 18 months ago to be Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, tells me he has ruled himself out. ‘I haven’t applied and I haven’t been invited to apply,’ he says candidly. ‘I’m still passionate about the institution and will watch how it turns out.’ Nonetheless, Ladbrokes has slashed Damazer’s odds from 20/1 to 8/1 after taking several large bets. The closing date for applications is not until May 7.




Friday 20th April: Ephraim Hardcastle in the Mail: 

Tory MP Robert Halfon tables an early day motion suggesting the BBC’s new Director General should be elected by licence fee-payers. They could make a TV series about it, with candidates debating on Newsnight. Better than the shifty, ongoing consultative process overseen by the BBC Trust’s chairman Lord Patten, who has been rewarded egregiously with plum public jobs since losing his Tory seat in Bath 20 years ago.







Tuesday 17th April: Michael Crick, at Channel 4, blogs on the political connections of the leading candidates... 

Given persistent accusations from UKIP and the Tory right that the BBC is too pro-EU, could a former European Commissioner, appoint to the top BBC job, the daughter of another European Commissioner, who is also the wife of a former adviser to two more EU Commissioners? Yes, he could, but not without some political fuss.




Monday 16h April: Steve Hewlett still pining for John Birt in The Guardian

Chronic over-management will have to be tackled and in-house production will have to prove itself against the market. Indeed it could be that the key task for the next director general will be a ruthless reappraisal of all the BBC's functions and processes with a genuinely radical eye on efficiency and outcomes for licence payers.

 Look again at the "role specification" and there they are – "change leadership" and "strategic thinking". And unlike an editorial background, both in the "must have" column. The ability to make key editorial decisions, lead a creative organisation and, critically, a senior team, and being able to speak with credibility to audiences and stakeholders inside and out are all essential. 

 But ultimately the key factor distinguishing the candidates may well come down to their appetite for radical change and, critically, their ability to see where and how to deliver it. Let the Birt revolution recommence.





Tuesday 10th April; Tara Conlan in The Guardian, reports on Lord Patten briefing The Trust on DG recruitment progress

One insider said the chairman said that whoever got the job would have a hard act to follow and, with characteristic humour said Thompson's successor would have to have "the wisdom of Aristotle" as well as the "striking power of Wayne Rooney".

As is usual, a long and short list will be drawn up and an appointment is due to be made by June. 

The internal favourites are thought to be Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer who has helped steer the corporation through a previous charter review, director of news Helen Boaden and director of vision George Entwistle. 

One source claimed that so far the list of external candidates who are the right age and have the right experience has "fallen short" of expectations.

Wednesday 4th July





Thursday 17th May







Monday 19th March







Friday 10th February


Sunday 5th February




Friday 3rd February




Wednesday 1st February

stakes tweet 6




Tuesday 31st January



Monday 30th January




Sunday 29th January




Monday 9th April - Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent

Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer, is 57; Helen Boaden, director of news, is 56. Both are slightly older than the departing DG, Mark Thompson, and quite a bit older than their male rivals. Twenty years ago, they would have been considered the perfect age for a top job and would have been competing against their male contemporaries. Now they probably worry they have missed their opportunity. 

Because of this new phenomenon of early promotion, women are feeling the squeeze at both ends of their working lives. When they are young (and sometimes even middle-aged), they are patronised as little girls; in their mid-life, when their male colleagues are racing ahead, they are held back by family responsibilities; and by the time they reach their peak of intellectual and emotional maturity, they are already deemed to be past it. At all ages, they're judged on their appearance, however irrelevant it is to the job they do. 

It doesn't have to be like this. We all, but men in particular, need to question our assumptions. Treat people with respect, value their ability, accept that some take longer to get to the top, don't judge them by their age. Let's not ask what Caroline Thomson or Helen Boaden slap on their pelts.




Saturday 7th April: Gideon Rachman interviews outgoing DG Mark Thompson for the Financial Times

I ask Thompson what his advice will be to his successor? He pauses: “One of the things that people really like about the BBC is that it’s unchanging. People see the BBC as a calm, authoritative voice in an increasingly hysterical world”. But, he continues, the desire to preserve that asset can be paralysing. BBC managers and trustees are in danger of treating the organisation “like a Ming vase that they are terrified will tip off the table and break … Even quite small changes in the Radio 4 schedule can have people sharpening their knives.” The reality, as Thompson sees it, is that if the BBC does not change with the times, it will wither away. “So who’s going to stand up for change? It has to be the director-general, really.”





Wednesday 4th April: Private Eye

The “least worst” option is Helen “good egg” Boaden, who does a passable impersonation of a human being. Internally, Boaden would be the People’s Choice, if one doesn’t look too closely at the over-managed and bureaucratic nature of her huge news empire.

Sunday 1st April: Matthew Bell, Independent on Sunday

Andrew Neil has considered throwing his hat in to be the next D-G of the BBC. It's not as daft as it sounds: a talented broadcaster and journalist, he also has 20 years' experience of running media empires. But alas, the 62-year-old tells me he decided against it, and is putting his weight behind Helen Boaden, the Beeb's Director of News. Speaking at a party to launch The Spectator's new lifestyle supplement, "Life", he says: "I thought about that, but ruled it out. I'm having too much fun. We could do with a woman at the top, and we need a proven programmes person, who will concentrate on content. I'm backing Boaden."


Friday 30th March: Dan Wootton in the Mail. 

 It’s looking likely the next BBC director general will be a woman after the leading outside candidate privately ruled himself out of the job this week. Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham told friends he has no plans to defect, but would love the job ‘next time’. The top two internal candidates are chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and director of news Helen Boaden. My source reveals: ‘The BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten likes the idea of appointing the first female DG.’

Thursday 29th March: Phil Harrold, BBC Trust Head of Governance in BBC staff organ Ariel, defending the use of recruitment consultants in the hunt for a new DG: 

"Given that this is one of the biggest jobs both in global broadcasting and in British public life, it is hardly surprising that we are using experts to help us find the best possible candidate - that's in the best interests of staff and audiences and is standard practice in any such high profile appointment. It is set out in the Charter that it is the Trust that appoints the DG; it will be an open recruitment process and anyone can apply."


Saturday 24th March: Amanda Platell in the Mail

"It's ironic, isn’t it, that the two women in the frame to take over from departing BBC director-general Mark Thompson are Caroline Thomson, 57, and Helen Boaden, 56 — both of them decades too old to get a prime-time presenter’s job on the Beeb these days". 

Thursday 22nd March: Stephen Glover lays about all and sundry in The Mail

The choice is between BBC apparatchiks: Caroline Thomson, Helen Boaden, George Entwistle and Tim Davie. I’m told Ms Boaden may lean fractionally more to the Right than the others, but none of them could be fairly described as conservative with a big or small ‘c’, and it is unimaginable that anyone of such a persuasion could become director-general of the BBC. 

Wednesday 21st March:  Media grandee Ray Snoddy on his MediaTel site

There is a widespread opinion in the BBC about Boaden.  It goes like this... she may have became more corporate as she climbed the slippery pole but she remains, noticeably a human being. This is a rare commodity in large, highly political organisations such as the BBC. As most of the big structural decisions have already been taken a key characteristic of the next DG must be the ability to inspire the troops and argue passionately for the BBC in the run-up to Charter renewal. So on current, incomplete information, analysis leads to Helen Boaden by a short nose. But then the only certainty is that the job will not go to James Murdoch.

 Roy Greenslade in the London Evening Standard

... my choice would be Boaden, the director of news, who has been with the BBC since 1983. Though she doesn’t have any experience in entertainment programming, she has dealt admirably with the toughest of assignments in her oversight of the domestic news output along with current affairs programming, such as Newsnight and Panorama. Among her other jobs, she was controller of Radio 4 for four years and presenter of Woman’s Hour. She is my bet but Patten will surely take deep soundings before reaching his decision. He will be judged on the choice he makes.


It is a difficult process to control. Lord Patten and the trustees will try to keep it confidential, and will almost certainly fail. When I and the board of governors selected the next DG in 1999, we went to extraordinary lengths to keep the candidates' identities secret. We were not aided by the candidates, several of whom lobbied individual governors and the press quite shamelessly, as did at least two senior members of the BBC executive. One candidate, Andrew Neil, wrote an account of his interview for The Sunday Times only days after it had taken place. 


Sir Michael Lyons, the former chairman of the BBC Trust, said it would be “great” if a woman emerged as the best candidate..... 

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News Group, is tipped as one of the strongest internal candidates and according to sources at the corporation has already embarked on an internal PR campaign to secure her post. “She has started copying senior management into emails, where she wouldn’t have before, expressing her views on strategic issues that are not part of her direct remit. It feels like she is auditioning,” an insider said. A separate source close to the BBC, however, denied she was campaigning for the position. Another source said she was well-suited to the role. “People like her because she speaks her mind. She’s tough in areas like cost-cutting, but she also trusts her lieutenants and she has strong editorial judgment. She’s good at spotting and pre-empting problems.” . 

Ms [Caroline] Thomson is the most senior internal candidate but is an unpopular choice among staff because she does not have a production background. “She is a very old-fashioned, BBC blue stocking type. She’s seen as too posh,” one source said. 


Monday 19th March

Ben Fenton in the FT: Toby Syfret at Enders Analysis  suggests that George Entwistle, director of BBC Vision, is the leading contender. 

Ariel (BBC staff organ): Mark Thompson has now finally confirmed to BBC staff that he'll leave the BBC in the Autumn. 

Here are the current odds on likely successors from Paddy Power - with a drift out for Helen Boaden, and surges for Michael Jackson (alive), Danny Cohen and Ed Richards

2/1 Caroline Thomson and George Entwistle 
7/2 Michael Jackson 
9/2 Helen Boaden 
5/1 Danny Cohen 
6/1 Ed Richards
9/1 Peter Fincham

Sunday 18th March: Peter Preston in The Observer on whether or not the BBC needs a "Birt 2.0" as the next DG

Let's agree John Birt did some valuable, if unpopular, things in his DG time. Let's also agree that Duke Hussey, when chairman of the governors, was right to recruit him. But then also remember that Hussey's old job is not what today's chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, is all about. The trust – stepping in to save 6Music, rescue some of Asian Network and defend local radio – is not a partner for the DG and his colleagues, but a monitor and arbiter. And Lord Patten, very clearly, sees that as a new and in many ways superior role. 

Would the John Birt of old have relished such a relationship? Can any new candidate be expected to take on Patten and colleagues in pursuit of his or her vision? Remember who makes the appointment, after all: Lord P (as in primus inter pares). 

Monday 12th March, Steve Hewlett ruminates in the Media Guardian, arguing that the BBC might need a "Birt 2.0" as DG, to make truly radical cuts

In Birt's day, it was the BBC's in-house resources that were cut in favour of external suppliers. Might Mark Thompson's successor have to consider something similar with in-house production? There is now, after all, a thriving and successful independent sector which, given its growing global success, might look like a better bet in terms of the positive economic benefits flowing from the licence fee the BBC so likes to talk up. 

Sunday 4th March, Culture Secretary Jeremy "Dangerous" Hunt, talking to the Sunday Telegraph

Mr Hunt .... says it would be “wonderful” if a woman succeeded the current director-general, Mark Thompson, when he steps down within months. Candidates to take over include Helen Boaden, who runs BBC News, and Caroline Thomson, the corporation’s chief operating officer. The BBC has never had a female “DG”. 

“Well, it would be wonderful to have a female DG, just as it was wonderful to have a female prime minister. But I think the worst possible thing would be if an individual became DG because they were a woman. And so I think we’ve got to be really careful to make sure that we’ve picked the best person for the job and not picked someone because of their gender.”

Sunday 26th February

Richard Brooks of The Sunday Times  says the headhunters looking for the next BBC DG have been asked by Lord Patten to consider splitting the job - to create a chief executive post AND an editor-in-chief.  "The main reason given for the split is that it is difficult for one person to oversee a £4 billion business employing 20,000 people while also being in editorial charge of television and radio networks."

Friday 24th February: Ephraim Hardcastle, in the Mail...

BBC chairman Lord Patten having pushed director-general Mark Thompson into early retirement, who’ll be picked in his place? My source, a household-name broadcaster, picks Radio 4 boss Helen Boaden, pointing out she has excellent judgement, was a council house child and is ‘by far the strongest internal candidate’. Others tout chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. The BBC has never had a woman DG. Let’s hope if they do she wasn’t chosen because it was thought she’d let Patten run the show. 




Tuesday 21st February




Monday 20th February

All pretty quiet on the campaign front. Danny Cohen is pumping up his success with Call The Midwife (and not mentioning the Royal Bodyguard). George Entwistle is writing a speech for  a mid-March conference at MediaCityUK, billed as looking at new ways of working, post-DQF. Tim Davie is off to Radio Days, Barcelona with a clutch of new media chums.  And things are generally so dull that no major bookmaker is offering odds. 

* Old timers will enjoy this review of a speech by previous DG Lord Birt, at Liverpool University - "one of the worst public lectures I have attended".

 Friday 10th February 


It's amazing what a cap and gown can do for you. BBC news chief Helen Boaden, who yesterday got  an honorary degree from the University of Brighton, is now favourite with two bookmakers to be the next Director General. William Hill have cut her odds from 4/1 to 5/4, and Caroline Thomson has drifted out from 5/2 to 4/1.

 No risky message from Helen to the graduands; she praised "Brighton’s unique mix of incandescently blue skies, bohemian glamour and glorious surrounding countryside". She said they needed to be resilient but optimistic in the face of economic problems: "The future has not been cancelled." 


Monday 6th February  

Matthew Norman in The Independent

George Entwistle, the Beeb's "director of vision" (though unlike Mr Assad, not an opthamologist) is the 100-30 favourite, with chief operating officer Caroline Thomson next at 9-2. On sixes are BBC North boss Peter Salmon and hurricane-denier Michael Fish, with director of news Helen Boaden on 17-2. Pam Ayres is available at 9s "with a run", not to mention with a rhyme: "I was sitting in me garden with a lovely cup of tea. When that nice Lord Patten rang, and said 'Pam, wanna be D-G?'." Youthful BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and Sooty sidekick Sweep are both 12-1, ITV boss Peter Fincham is an 18-1 chance, and Quentin Letts and Strictly's Bruno Tonioli are among a host of runners on 25s. It's 33-1 bar the above, with director of pithy questioning Jim Naughtie looking the each-way value at 125-1. Sunday 5th February




D J Taylor in The Independent 

He [Lord Patten] is supposed to want his minions to "wise up" rather than dumb down, to favour "elitism" over "vulgarity", to be indifferent to the fate of BBC3, and to prefer BBC4 – the at jewel in the corporation's crown – to the over-subsidised consumerist sauna that is BBC2. All this, in the context of recent BBC history, is the equivalent of lightning out of a clear sky, and one would love to be a fly on the wall of the office of director-general Mark Thompson as he and Lord Patten set about the task of outraging the philistines.Saturday 4th February

No big changes in the betting at the bookmakers - the shortest odds are still on three insiders, Caroline Thomson, George Entwistle and Helen Boaden. The conference call I'd like to hack is the daily executive board catch-up. Over the past week it seems there's been an crusty edge to some of the exchanges. They've had to discuss criticism of the use of women on panel and entertainment shows on BBC TV (prop George Entwistle) in a report from the Creative Diversity Network (prop Mark Thompson, sponsor Helen Boaden); and continuing charges of misogyny at Today (joint props Helen Boaden and Tim Davie) in a campaign started in the Guardian by Kira Cochrane and lept on by Tory MPs Nadine Dorries and Louise Mensch. The candidate with no direct output responsibility (except when Mark Thompson is on a blue run in Davos) is Caroline Thomson. 

 Friday 3rd February

The increasingly-cerebral PopBitch offers a cyclical theory as a guide to selecting the next Director General of the BBC. It suggests the job has historically rotated between the hirsute and those who are follicularly challenged. Thus (in PopBitch's assesssment) we have Alisdair Milne (hairy); Sir Michael Checkland (balding) John Birt (hairy) Greg Dyke (baldy) Mark Byford (hairy) Mark Thompson (baldy)... PopBitch (not me) thinks this does not bode well for George Entwistle.




Thursday 2nd February

Radio is in "rude health" says Director of Audio & Music Tim Davie, on the latest listening figures.  Helen Boaden may have more of a problem - the Today programme, in reality her baby, has added 500,000 listeners with its testosterone-heavy running orders.  Meanwhile George Entwistle at Vision seems to have listened to Lord Patten's dislike of complicated commissioning, and moved against some of the genre heads - if Broadcast is right. 

Wednesday 1st February

Media Monkey in The Guardian

Will newspaper columnists planning to apply for Mark Thompson's not-even-yet-vacant BBC director general job please form an orderly queue? London Evening Standard columnist and Radio 3 presenter Anne McElvoy on Wednesday followed the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts by throwing her hat into the ring as well. McElvoy, joining the lineup of "rank outsiders",declares that she is standing as the "Emmeline Pankhurst candidate" in a challenge to the BBC's "dilatory approach" to women on-air.

Gideon Spanier in The Evening Standard

The smart money has to be on an external candidate rather than a BBC lifer becoming the next director-general after the last two incumbents, Mark Thomspon and Greg Dyke, both came from outside. Their immediate predecessor Lord Birt also had a long stint in the commercial sector. With the ideal candidate needing TV and editorial experience and probably aged under 50, headhunters Egon Zehnder have a tough ask. Some insiders reckon the shortlist could be very short - as was the case when the same recruitment firm found Channel 4's boss. Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, is tipped as a dark horse. Culture minister Ed Vaizey praised Ofcom as the "finest media regulator in the world" last week and former Channel 5 boss David Elstein says: "Richards is in the right age and skill group. Dealing with Government is a large part of this job. He is a live candidate."


Tuesday 31st January: Julian Whittle in the (Carlisle) Express & Star

The next director general of the BBC could have a strong Cumbrian connection. Bookies have made Caroline Thomson, who has a home at Abbeytown near Wigton, an early front runner to succeed Mark Thompson who steps down later this year. Ms Thomson, 57, is chief operating officer of the BBC, effectively Mr Thompson’s number two. ..... She would be the first woman to hold the post. Ms Thomson is married to Lord Liddle, a former special adviser to Tony Blair and chairman of Cumbria Vision. She is a trustee of Tullie House Museum in Carlisle and the National Gallery in London



Peter Salmon's partner Sarah Lancashire joins the cast of Upstairs Downstairs in the forthcoming series. She plays Miss Violet Whisset, maid to Lady Brackenbury, and is destined for an affair with the butler.  Will this affect Peter's chances ?


Monday 30th January

Stephen Bayley in The Telegraph

What the Corporation needs is a big lesson in "reculer pour mieux avancer." Of course, you wouldn't be allowed to say such a thing on air.



Janet Street-Porter in The Independent


Patten can change the top brass, but can he turn around the ship? A radical purge and the removal of at least half of its managers is essential, if the good ship BBC is not to sink under the weight of its own self-importance.



Stephen Glover in The Independent

In a multi-channel and ratings-driven world there are enormous pressures on mainstream channels such as BBC1 and BBC2 to dumb down.... Lord Patten (who is also Chancellor of Oxford University) can more easily play the role of ivory tower idealist for the very reason that he has not spent his life in television. But I wouldn't underestimate his determination, or his political skills so evident last week, to reverse the slide downmarket. His difficulty is that he and the BBC Trust may have to choose a successor to Mr Thompson who has been formed out of the same clay. Moreover, BBC1 and BBC2 have acquired a mindset which dozens of executives will wish to perpetuate while Lord Patten, working as chairman three or four days a week, has other fish to fry.

Sunday 29th January

Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian:

It is often said that the next leader needs to have programming experience. More important, though, is the ability to navigate technological change and to handle the inevitable controversies that will return after Thompson has gone. A manager of geeks and a deft politician: where on earth will Lord Patten find that on £200,000 to £400,000 a year ?