Greg Dyke did something yesterday that would have been unimaginable when John Birt was director general of the BBC. He stood in front of a huge picture of a daisy-like flower and declared it to be his new management structure.
Mr Dyke chose pink as a backdrop when he addressed the corporation's 23,000 staff, telling them of his plans to make the Beeb happier and "more inclusive". Then he indicated to the troops that the days of his predecessor's hierarchical directorates and departments were over. They were being replaced by petals. And, to the relief of many, Alan Yentob had secured one of the biggest, and certainly one of the prettiest, petals - encompassing drama and an exciting new project to produce large numbers of BBC feature films.
The pastel backdrop was complemented by Mr Dyke's all-grey outfit, which some of the staff watching on the BBC's internal television system thought a somewhat ironic choice of apparel since this is the most colourful director general for some time. Unlike his predecessor, he was relaxed in front of his audience, made witty asides and, according to one executive, "launched a charm offensive which managed to cast a warm glow over what, in fact, was some pretty unpalatable news".
One producer said: "He's making it sound like its all lovely, happy clappy stuff. He's love-bombing us - but actually the message underneath is a tough one. Lots of job losses, and more efficiency savings."
Most sensitive of all, a crackdown on the provision of taxis for staff working anti-social hours was imminent. But Mr Dyke managed a joke about it, saying he fully realised that, in most people's priorities, "taxis and minicabs come way above strategy and just below canteens". Thanks to Mr Dyke's timing and delivery, the audience laughed.
When asked about sports rights, Mr Dyke replied that if he spent a fortune on football there would be nothing left for the rest. Job cuts would be devastating and only a few people would be left: "That's just Christopher [Bland, the chairman] and me. And one or two of you [nodding at his senior managers]." That, too, got a chuckle.
If Lord Birt was watching, he must have been envious. Never, during his nine years as director general, did he manage to get a BBC audience eating out of his hand.Reuse content