The feral beast: All aboard the BBC jobs train

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The Independent Online

Much grousing around BBC water-coolers about the appointment of Will Gompertz as arts editor.

Staff are wondering why someone with no broadcasting experience has been handed the plum job when there's no shortage of redundant arts journalists out there. Gompertz is a senior PR man at the Tate gallery, although he did star in his own one-man show at Edinburgh. Perhaps the answer is presenteeism: Gompertz lives in Oxford and frequently catches the same train as the BBC director-general, Mark Thompson. How cosy.

Experience in the bank

He's only worked for the BBC for 26 years but paper-shufflers at the corporation must never have heard of Allan Little. The award-winning special correspondent was turned down for a foreign posting with a letter starting: "Thank you for your recent application to join the BBC." Friends say he was left speechless, as he has spent his entire working life at the Beeb, covering wars in the former Yugoslaiva and Iraq, as well as long spells in South Africa, Russia and France. He's been told his details have been added to a "talent bank".

Vine mounts the pulpit

Jeremy Vine is throwing caution to the wind and proclaiming his faith. Earlier this year the Radio 2 presenter said it was "almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God", but now he is to conduct a service in an Anglican church and speak about why his Christianity is important to him. My man in the pews at St Johns Stoneleigh, Surrey, says Vine is taking the service on 27 September, to be followed by a question and answer session. Might he soon be persuaded to discuss his beliefs on air?

Associated plans 'Lite' makeover

Those who thought the closure of the Londonpaper would presage the closure of its freebie competitor, the London Lite, may have a wait yet. I hear Associated troubleshooter Martin Clarke has decided on a redesign for the paper, which insiders say is "a show of strength".

Evans's kiss and tell

Ex-Sunday Times editor Harold Evans has finally published his memoirs. Although not explosive, we learn how he "parked his conscience" while courting Tina Brown for two years despite being married. He also recalls being fired by Rupert Murdoch, an "out of body experience" during which he noticed "how red was the rim of his left eye" and "the thickness of the black hair on the back of his hands." But there's one curious omission: successor ST editor Andrew Neil doesn't get a mention. There's only one thing worse than being talked about ....

The race to leave the 'Obs'

As if The Observer's demise were in doubt, news reaches me of yet another departure. Following my revelation that Lynn Barber is off to The Sunday Times, I hear books deputy and feature writer Oliver Marre is off to pursue the law. We wish him well.

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