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Rod Liddle

My application to be chairman of the BBC

I will save millions and increase the budget for programme-making by 100 per cent. I know I can save you money just by looking at your job ads

17 May 2014

9:00 AM

17 May 2014

9:00 AM

To: Karen Moran, HR Director, BBC

Dear Ms Moran,

I have decided to give up on the gardening this year, after a number of dispiriting setbacks. Last year I invested a fairly large amount of money, and about four hours per week, in trying to grow vegetables. But despite the fence and the pellets and the presence of a large plastic falcon called ‘Mr Roberts’, almost all of my crop was eaten by wild things. Woodpigeons, rabbits, caterpillars, slugs etc. I once saw a woodpigeon eating some of my kale while perched on Mr Roberts’s head, a terrible indignity for such a proud and fierce bird. In the end I had about 20 courgettes, and nobody in my family is fond of courgettes. So henceforth I will go to Morrisons for my vegetables, like I used to do.

I am bringing you this important news because, with four hours per week freed up, I have more than sufficient time available to be chairman of the BBC Trust, at the previous salary of £110,000 per annum. I assume, given his track record, that’s about the amount of time Patten put in each week. I can match that.

I am writing to you, Kazza, because you are the chief honcho at HR in the corporation, and it is you whom applicants for a whole host of other utterly superfluous and fatuous jobs are enjoined to contact on the ‘BBC Careers’ website. Such as ‘Content Services Creative Co-ordinator’, which isn’t something I’ve just made up but is apparently a real job and one for which I would also like to apply. I will do that job for no money at all — a huge saving to the licence payer — by abolishing it on day one. Indeed, I would like to apply for all of the 50 or so administrative jobs advertised as being vacant, and I will abolish all of them on day one. There you are: I’ve already saved you several million quid. Let’s see if the BBC can muddle through without a Content Services Creative Co-ordinator and a Vice President of Sales Western Europe and an Academy Resource Manager and a Business Development Officer based in, er, Kathmandu. You really get around, you lot, don’t you? What business is the Kathmandu development officer engaged in? Is it something to do with yaks? Or is he or she trafficking skag? I wonder if, as an experiment, the licence payer can live without the fruits of this particular labour?

I admit that the post for which I am applying has not been advertised. That’s because someone has already drawn up a list of congenially bien-pensant metro-liberal halfwits, the people who run all of our quangos and universities and charities and public bodies because they have agreeable middle-class views. Such as, for example, the acting chairman of the BBC Trust, Diane Coyle OBE, who is also on the UK Border Agency’s Migration Advisory Committee (I could do that too. ‘Don’t let them in! Don’t let them in!’ That’s my advice to the UKBAMAC, offered free of charge), the Competition Commission, visiting professor at a northern university, on the board of EDF Energy and also managing director of a large consultancy firm.

Phew, as they say. I bet she doesn’t grow her own vegetables. Actually, thinking about it, Diane might be scary enough to replace the disgraced Mr Roberts at keeping the woodpigeons away from my kale. They wouldn’t dare perch on her head. Maybe she’d like to take that role on, too. Just stand there in the garden at twilight and dawn and pretend that the woodpigeons just recited ‘eeny meeny miny moe’.

So I am not on the board of anything and nor (incredibly you might think) have I been honoured. Also, not all of my opinions are agreeable. But nonetheless I do think that I have what it takes to guide the corporation through these difficult times. I have worked for the BBC and while there formed certain robust views about the plethora of bureaucrats and middle managers, all of whom believe that they could earn much more working for the private sector. My first act then, would be to enable them to take advantage of these manifold opportunities. I’d do that on day one, too. My goal, in the first year, would be to increase the amount of money spent directly by the BBC on programme-making, by somewhere in the region of 100 per cent, at the expense of the administrative side of the organisation. If that means it’s curtains for the Business Development Officer (Kathmandu), then so be it.

Director-generals always, always, say that they are going to reduce the number of BBC middle managers, but somehow never seem to get around to so doing. So this is clearly a task for an incoming BBC chairman. My second task would be to ask the director-general to distinguish between the remits of BBC4 and BBC2, and after he has failed to do so satisfactorily, axe one of them. Along with BBC3, of course.

The rest of my first year would be spent addressing the question of bias within the corporation and attempting to stop the weathermen from camping it up quite so much.

I await your reply, Ms Moran. And now I must take the dog for a walk.

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