Inside Story by Greg Dyke

We were stitched up like a kipper All-round good bloke Greg Dyke was well and truly shafted by a few posh birds, but now he's putting it all behind him, says Justin Cartwright
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The Independent Culture


Allo, my name's Greg Dyke, but you can call me Greg. When I was at Harvard Business School, for 12 memorable weeks back in the 1980s, I discovered that the secret of management is being a good bloke. Game set and match to me, I was fully paid up. You only have to look at all my leaving cards from the the places I have left. They all loved me. The biggest of all send-offs was when I got the old heave-ho from the BBC in January. The staff knew without my having to tell them again, that I was a great bloke who had been shafted by a lot of public school twats and a few posh birds on the governors' whatsit. This was after I had raised morale by treating everyone just the same and eating my sangers in the canteen with the little people and cutting all the crap. Initiatives likeOne BBC, Making it Happen, Just Imagine: all my great ideas.

Now, before I get to the interesting bit about Hutton - doesn't know the law from a number 73 bus - let me tell you how I got to the top in television, despite my humble beginnings: Thames, LWT, Pearson et cetera: I did it by dishing out common sense and pasting large pictures of myself, with offers of free drinks, all over the building. I made some great mates, including Jeremy Beadle and Melvyn - one of the wisest people on the planet - and I made a shed-load of money on the way. I even saved TV-AM with Roland Rat and his pal - great bloke - Kevin the Gerbil. The guy who had his hand up their arse was loopy; that was a laugh. As I entrusted all my dosh to my best mate Richard from school, I realised that my success was all down to my Dad's advice - treat everyone equal son, and you'll be allright - and I saw that being a stereotypical public schoolboy who couldn't speak to ordinary folk, was a handicap in management which I had been spared back in Hayes, before all the Indians arrived and changed the area for ever.

When I got the job at the Beeb, over the opposition of the posh ladies, as I called them, I knew Birt was unpopular, but when I heard he never ever spoke a word, not a single word, to the receptionists at BH, stone me, I couldn't believe it. My partner Sue didn't really want me to take the job, but I knew if I bought everyone a few drinks and changed the culture, I could turn it around. I could hardly believe I was Top Dog at the Beeb as I drove up with my old mate and chauffeur Steve/Terry/ Fred that first day.

It was all going great guns, staff happy as a pig in the proverbial at being genuinely consulted for the first time - McKinsey's management consultants sent packing, ratings up - ITV well and truly stuffed by my great initiatives - plenty of favourable press coverage, digital going like a firecracker, when along comes the old Iraq war. In the beginning I was convinced by the claim that the Iraqis had WMD and they would use them. When a reporter called Andrew Gilligan - not a bad bloke, fundamentally - made an off-the-cuff remark to John Humphrys at three in the morning about how the government probably knew the claim was false - later corrected in the written script which had passed through a rigorous BBC editorial process, something that old Hutton conveniently forgot - that's when the excrement hit the air-conditioning. The explanation is pretty simple: Alastair Campbell was in trouble because of his dodgy dossier and under big pressure for hounding Kelly, so he decided to turn it into a question of whether the Prime Minister had lied. We never said that, we said there was evidence that senior people in intelligence were concerned about sexing up. Old Hutton - criminal lawyer, no idea about media law - decided that sexing up meant lying. We were stitched up like a kipper.

Anyway, Gavyn decided he would have to take the rap, and then the governors decided I had to walk the plank too. I was amazed and saddened. And so were the staff. They were shattered. Downing Street was shocked by how the staff took to the streets. They have learned their lesson, and the BBC is stronger than ever.

A few months later when I wandered around Robben Island and I saw what real suffering was, I realised it was time to put it all behind me.

Justin Cartwright's latest novel, 'The Promise of Happiness', is published by Bloomsbury

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