Puttnam lined up to succeed Grade as chairman of the BBC

Lord Puttnam, the former film producer, appears almost certain to throw his hat into the ring to become the new chairman of the BBC, as tomorrow's deadline for applications approaches.

The Labour peer and favourite for the post confirmed yesterday that he was one of a large number of people who had been contacted by headhunters hired by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Although Lord Puttnam, 65, declined to say whether he was going to apply formally, stressing that many other likely candidates had also been approached, he disclosed he was writing an article for this week's Spectator magazine on why the position was so important. And he gave a clue to his thinking by adding: "It is a very, very important job. I feel this very strongly. It is an important time for me and an important time for the BBC generally.''

Lord Puttnam acknowledged that his article might be viewed by some as his manifesto for the job, but he went on: "One thing I have learned is that people can interpret whatever they want out of something.'' He said it was "farcical" that the application process for such an important job was being discussed in newspaper diary columns "as though it was something in William Hill's". Currently deputy chairman of Channel 4 - a post he would have to give up - Lord Puttnam is said to have been very disappointed when he failed to get the job in the past.

The job was advertised at the beginning of January and follows the departure in December of Michael Grade, who defected to ITV. The new appointment coincides with the re-shaping of the board of governors into the BBC Trust, which will have more of a regulatory role than before. The new chairman is expected to act more as the licence fee-payers' representative than as a figurehead for the BBC itself.

The job of running the recruitment process has been handed by the DCMS to the executive headhunters Odgers Ray and Berndtson. The shortlist of candidates will be interviewed by a panel appointed by the DCMS, expected to include a senior civil servant and an independent assessor. The panel will probably recommend two names to Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary. The final name has to be approved by Downing Street and is announced by Buckingham Palace. The four-day-a-week job carries a pay packet of £140,000.

A DCMS spokeswoman said she was unable to confirm the names of anyone who had been approached. An announcement is not expected until the spring.

While many might see Lord Puttnam, with his background in film production, as a good candidate, his strong and close links with the New Labour establishment make him a controversial choice among critics who believe the BBC already has a left-wing liberal bias.

Other candidates who are believed to have applied or to be considering applying include the veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby and Richard Lambert, a former editor of the Financial Times. Others who have been linked with the post, but have implied that they are not in the running include the former arts minister Chris Smith, due to become chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority, and Richard Eyre, the former chief executive of ITV and Capital Radio, who has said that he believes the job would be "far less interesting" than before.

Oscar-winner turned Labour establishment figure

* David Puttnam, otherwise known as Lord Puttnam of Queensgate in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, was part of the generation of former advertising industry executives - others included Alan Parker and Ridley Scott - who revitalised the British film industry in the 1970s. Lord Puttnam, who turns 66 next month, became a producer of multi-award-winning films such as Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, (both directed by Parker) Chariots of Fire, which won the best picture Oscar, Local Hero and The Killing Fields. Recruited by Hollywood to become chairman of Colombia Pictures in the late 1980s he was less successful and lasted only two years. He recently disclosed that he believed his failure was due to ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition from which he has suffered for many years.

He was made a life peer by Tony Blair in 1997 and sits on the Labour benches. He has been on a number of government task forces, including ones on education and the creative industries.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
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

Marketing Account Manager / Client Liaison Manager

£25 - 32k DOE: Guru Careers: A digital-savvy Marketing Account Manager / Clien...

Business Development Manager / Sales Executive

£23-30k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking bright Business Developmen...

Senior Developer/Development Lead - C# ASP.NET. SQL

Circa £55,000: Ashdown Group: Lead Developer requirement - C#, ASP.NET, SQL - ...

DFA Ad Operations Manager

38,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: My client is an agency that handles the me...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain