Day One of 'Greg-ism': Birt in the background as the new boss arrives at Broadcasting House

There is nothing as brutal as a photographer and his camera lens, as up to five of the BBC's most senior executives discovered yesterday.

There is nothing as brutal as a photographer and his camera lens, as up to five of the BBC's most senior executives discovered yesterday.

Just as they lined up to have their picture taken alongside the new director general, Greg Dyke, and his predecessor, Sir John Birt, they were quickly told to move out of the way. It was just the two main players who would be required, they were told.

Only a few months ago each of the executives had their own ambitions to be at the centre of the frame, not consigned firmly to the sidelines, having all applied for the DG's job.

Now, on day one for Greg Dyke as the top man at the corporation, the future for some was uncertain. For most of the BBC's most senior men - and a few women - arriving early at work was something of a priority yesterday.

"I've come to make sure there isn't a black binliner on my desk already," one executive said quietly. He claimed to have heard the new boss single out his department for criticism in a speech on one occasion.

"I'm sure I heard him say he'd start by sacking the lot of us, but that was 1994. I hope he's forgotten it."

Not that Mr Dyke will have had much chance to assess things yesterday. For it was a day of Birtism, not Gregism - although he was able to inject a bit of PR savvy into his arrival.

Mr Dyke arrived at the BBC's Broadcasting House headquarters in central London after being driven from his home in Twickenham, south-west London in the Jaguar car that the BBC bought from his old employer, Pearson.

As his car rolled up at 8.30am there were photographers and journalists waiting. But Mr Dyke had managed to get out of the car and halfway to the building before any of the assembled camera crews had time to react. He obligingly volunteered to repeat his getting-out-of-the-car exercise - this time using the car belonging to the BBC's corporate affairs director, Colin Browne - so the cameras could have their shot.

Once he was inside, as for any new senior civil servant, his day began with a bewildering array of meetings with shadowy boards whose bureaucratic names - ExComm and BoM - are designed to confuse outsiders. But unlike most new civil servants, Mr Dyke found 20 photographers and cameramen in his meeting room when he showed up.

There was then the photocall, which took place in the oak-panelled council chamber under the baleful gaze of the first DG, Lord Reith, and was replete with nicely symbolic touches.

After the photocall, Mr Dyke's first meeting involved Tony Hall, the head of BBC News, and Mark Byford, head of the World Service, both of whom applied for the top job.

With the photographers gone, Sir John welcomed Mr Dyke to the corporation, and the two men sat together at the head of the chamber's rectangular arrangement of tables.

In what is a rather curious scenario, Mr Dyke will work alongside Sir John until next April. For the next five months Mr Dyke will formally be deputy director general.

He has promised to bring a new ethos to the corporation. And yesterday he filled in the executive committee, or ExComm, on what would be his first move, namely to reduce a first layer of bureaucracy.

Mr Dyke has secured for himself the additional powers that come with being chief executive of BBC Broadcast, the directorate that controls the output of BBC1, BBC2 and BBC Radio. He will take over when the current incumbent, Will Wyatt, retires in December.

The extra role will give Mr Dyke an immediate hands-on say in the running of the two core television channels and will allow him to make changes more quickly than had been expected.

With the role will come the responsibility for conducting a review of the relationship between the section of the BBC that broadcasts programmes and the other parts, particularly the corporate centre, which has been criticised for being overly bureaucratic. The review should give Mr Dyke the power to cut back some of the policy and planning departments that have been the hallmark of Sir John's reign and his much-vilified "Birtism".

Furthermore, by securing the job for himself Mr Dyke will be able to delay the important appointment of the next broadcast chief until after Sir John's hand-over period is complete.

After hearing Mr Dyke's plan, the board, more prosaically, discussed September's accounts and heard an update on the corporation's plans for the year 2000.

After ExComm, Mr Dyke had to endure a Board of Management - BoM - meeting, which included the members of ExComm plus the head of television, Alan Yentob, directors of radio and the regions, and a slew of second-tier executives. They discussed the BBC's education strategy and heard an update on the number and nature of recent viewers' complaints. Before the meeting Mr Dyke told journalists: "I'm very much in listening mode." And according to one who was there, he was true to his word: "He spoke only to have a couple of things explained, but otherwise he seemed well briefed. Judging from his tan, I think he spent much of his holiday reading internal documents on the beach."

What would otherwise have been a long day of policy detail and number-crunching was cut short by the need for both Mr Dyke and Sir John to attend the funeral of Cilla Black's husband, Bobby Willis, who died 11 days ago from liver and lung cancer.

Instead of a lunch with yet more executives, Mr Dyke grabbed a sandwich for the drive to Ms Black's home village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. Both BBC DGs were once programming directors at London Weekend Television, where Ms Black works, and they were both personal friends of Mr Willis, who also acted as Ms Black's manager.

Mr Dyke returned from the funeral in time for the BBC's reception at the magnificent Hampton Court Palace last night, once again accompanying Sir John.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Administration Assistant / Office Assistant

£18 - 20k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An Administration Assistant / Office Assistan...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone