Alan yentob

Roy Strong’s towering egotism is really rather engaging

There is nothing wrong with being self-invented. The most interesting people in the world designed themselves. And in this matter Roy Strong, once upon a time the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery, can offer a master class. He has discovered the mines of self-invention to be very deep and richly seamed with treasure. This is no less than his third bulky volume of diaries, and readers have been generously treated to autobiographies as well. While convinced that a scheming Alan Yentob conspired to keep him off the telly for more than 30 years, Roy, with his singular voice, is a national asset, recognisable from


Alan Yentob steps down as BBC creative director (but keeps his £150,000 TV gig)

Alan Yentob has dramatically quit his £183,300 per year creative director role at the BBC. Today’s decision comes after Yentob became the subject of intense scrutiny in recent months regarding the BBC’s coverage of the Kids Company scandal. In a statement, Yentob – who was the chairman of Kids Company – explains his decision to leave, citing the Kids Company scandal — which The Spectator were the first to cast light on — as a contributing factor: ‘The BBC is going through particularly challenging times and I have come to believe that the speculation about Kids Company and the media coverage revolving around my role is proving a serious distraction.’ However, it’s not all

BBC1’s Kids Company ‘expose’ was nothing of the sort

To her supporters, Camila Batmanghelidjh is a deeply caring woman whose charity Kids Company was cruelly extinguished last summer thanks to unfair press speculation about its finances which later turned into a fully-blown media witch-hunt. To those of us who know our way around the Kids Company story, Camila Batmanghelidjh is certainly deeply caring, but the person she appears to care most deeply about is herself. Exhibit A: Lynn Alleway’s fly-on-the-wall film (‘Camila’s Kids Company: the Inside Story’) broadcast on BBC1 last night. In it, Batmanghelidjh didn’t bother to mask her love for the camera. She lapped up the attention Alleway showed her, never happier than when providing a running

Alan Yentob’s ‘resignation’ only makes him less accountable

The BBC’s spin doctors will be broadly happy at the coverage Alan Yentob’s ‘resignation’ as BBC Creative Director has generated, but licence fee payers should not be so pleased. For, on closer inspection, the whole thing is a gigantic swizz. Yentob may have relinquished his £183,000 salary, and his executive status, but it is now obvious that he will remain a very well paid fixture at the BBC for some time yet – and an even less accountable one. Firstly, it is important to note that as the Daily Telegraph reported today, by standing down from this job, Yentob escaped an internal BBC inquiry into allegations that he interfered with BBC News’s

The man who wouldn’t be king

Not that long ago the BBC trumpeted a new Stakhanovite project to big up the arts in its many and various hues. And praise be, this it is jolly well doing with all sorts of dad rock docs, homages to painters and poets, while Sralan Yentob (as he surely ought at the very least to be, and soon) continues to knock frock-coated on doors like a highly remunerated person from Porlock. Before multichannels and multi-platforms, great arts coverage was (if memory serves) done without much song and dance. Lest we forget, Yentob was once a progenitor of Arena. Long the haven of burgeoning filmmakers such as Mary Harron, James Marsh

David Cameron cannot escape blame for the Kids Company scandal

Today’s National Audit Office report into the collapse of Kids Company shines new light on the scandal. It shows that the charity received at least £46 million of public money during its 19 year existence despite repeated warnings from civil servants that funding it was unwise. The report also shows that ministers thought they knew best, and that many senior politicians ignored the concerns being raised. These MPs happily approved of the public purse being dipped into at the request of the charity’s founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh, and her chairman of trustees, BBC executive Alan Yentob, while at the same time other charitable organisations were given far less. Whether the state should bankroll

Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob defiant at select committee hearing

The two central figures in the Kids Company fiasco, Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob, have been grilled by the Public Administration Committee this morning and it’s gone very badly for both. As you might expect, Batmanghelidjh shirked all responsibility for the collapse of the charity she founded – outrageously blaming civil servants who blew the whistle on her. Yentob, the charity’s chairman, angrily denied any conflict with his role as the BBC’s Creative Director. It didn’t quite get into ‘you can’t handle the truth!’ territory — instead it was ‘please, think of the children’ which is arguably worse. If either of them had done that sufficiently, the charity would not have collapsed.

Welcome to the new-look Spectator Life – that’s already making the front page news

I wanted to let you know about the new issue of Spectator Life that’s out today – free with the latest issue of the Spectator. It’s my first issue in charge as editor and I’m pleased to say that one of our stories – a profile of Alan Yentob by ex-Newsnight producer Meirion Jones – has made it on to the front page of today’s Sun. It’s a great read. The Sun has splashed on the allegation that Yentob branded Meirion and his fellow producer Liz MacKean ‘traitors to the BBC’ after they publicly complained about the Beeb’s decision to pull the film they’d made exposing Jimmy Savile as a

The perfect storm: a right-on charity run by a right-on woman and a right-on BBC executive

The BBC’s Creative Director, Alan Yentob, seems to have spent the last week or so dashing from studio to studio in an attempt to influence the corporation’s broadcasters from saying nasty stuff about a charity of which he was, until it imploded, chairman. The incompetently-managed Kids Company is now mercifully defunct. Yentob has subsequently admitted to having contacted Newsnight before the programme broadcast an investigation into the charity. He also harangued BBC correspondent Lucy Manning and stood in the cubicle watching as Today attempted to cover the story. If anyone else in the BBC had demonstrated such a magnificently brazen conflict of interest, they’d be out. But as a former

How I blew the whistle on Kids Company – and Camila Batmanghelidjh

Until February 2015, when The Spectator published my article on Kids Company, not a single bad word about it or its chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh had appeared in the mainstream media. This may seem surprising now, as the scale of the scandal surrounding the now-defunct charity unfolds, but for the best part of 20 years it was treated by journalists and politicians with a reverence which I believe it had not merited for a long time. I first began looking into the charity in 2013. What struck me was the improbable statistics repeated ad infinitum in newspapers and on news programmes – notably those about the number of children and young

Fraser Nelson

Journalists didn’t kill Kids Company. Camila Batmanghelidjh did

To listen to Camila Batmanghelidjh on the Radio 4 this morning, you’d think that her upstanding charity had been mysteriously assassinated by a vicious media – and by nothing else. This sounded like a very different Camila Batmanghelidjh to the one who telephoned me after The Spectator first blew the whistle on the irregularities at Kids Company – she was apoplectic. Didn’t I know that journalists normally love Kids Company? Kids Company has now collapsed – and not because journalists had (finally) been allowed to start asking questions. It has collapsed because Camila Batmanghelidjh ran up financial costs that she was not able to cover. She ran the charity, the

The bankers’ darling

This week’s Imagine… Jeff Koons: Diary of a Seducer (BBC1, Tuesday) began with Koons telling a slightly puzzled-looking Alan Yentob that what spinach was to Popeye, so art is to the rest of us: a way of achieving transcendence and appreciating ‘the vastness of life’. As it turned out, though, not all the claims made in the programme were quite so straightforward. Later, for example, Koons argued that ‘the only thing you really have in life is your interests and when you focus on them it takes you to a connecting place where time really kind of bends’. And even that was possibly beaten by the art dealer Jeffrey Deitch’s

Alan Yentob admits he inspired W1A bicycle plotline

With the BBC’s self satire W1A proving to be one of the corporation’s most popular shows, much has been made of whether the comedy is too close for comfort given that they are up for charter renewal next year. Indeed Alan Yentob was mocked in March after he was photographed with a bike which bore a striking resemblance to the one owned by Ian Fletcher – Hugh Bonneville’s fictional BBC ‘Head of Values’ character. Then, in the most recent episode, Fletcher sported a newer model of fold-up bike, which bore an even closer likeness to Yentob’s own £1,000 Brompton bike. When Mr S caught up with Yentob at the annual GQ and Land Rover

Televising theatre and opera will not attract new audiences. It will repel them

Always try to get the worst seats for the opera. Upper circle. Foyer. Toilet. The nearest bus stop. The further back the better. You’ll regret it if you don’t. There really is nothing more off-putting than being able to see the singers. Opera up close, as Princess Margaret once said, is just two fat people shouting at each other in a large room. And then there’s the clown make-up and trannie costumes to deal with. It all makes much more sense from afar, where it assumes a lovely dreamy abstract fuzz. Was that a smile? Or a stroke? Who knows. The words and music will carry you along. But even ‘good’ theatrical

Alan Yentob laments as austerity reaches Aunty

Troubled times at the BBC. There has been shock at the spectacular amounts of money that have been poured down the drain, and the row over executive pay-offs grows more vicious. And now new boss Sir Tony Hall is said to be limiting Aunty’s credit card. Some of the Beeb’s biggest spenders are up in arms as the age of austerity finally hits home. Fresh from having his £1,000 taxi bill exposed, Alan Yentob has been humiliated by his bosses. I hear that upon arriving at Glastonbury recently, the Beeb’s Creative Director had an almighty tantrum on discovering that he was staying in a Travelodge. Fellow travellers tell me that he spent the whole festival in a