BBC Director of Television Danny Cohen to work as 'runner' on Strictly Come Dancing as part of a shake-up designed to increase management knowledge of junior production roles

Decision to run errands part of a shake-up in BBC culture designed to 'give more status and seniority' to creative people at the BBC

The BBC’s Director of Television Danny Cohen is to work as a “runner” on Strictly Come Dancing and send his fellow senior managers “back to the floor” in junior roles to gain direct experience of the production process.

Cohen revealed his decision to run errands on the Saturday night entertainment show this autumn as part of a shake-up in BBC culture designed to “give more status and seniority” to creative people at the BBC, who have previously been less valued than the organisation’s managers.

The initiative comes as the BBC is facing a crisis over its senior management structure and the salaries and payoffs awarded to its executives, which has been the subject of stinging criticism by the National Audit Office and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

“I think we senior managers should have a closer understanding of what it’s like on the ground in production at the coal face making the programmes and I’m going to encourage all my senior team to be runners and do similar things in the next few weeks, “ Cohen told The Independent today.

The plan echoes the BBC series Back to the Floor, in which business figures including food industry entrepreneur Luke Johnson, Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold and former Millwall chairman Theo Paphitis, were filmed performing junior roles.

Cohen announced that he was planning to assemble a team of around six senior creative figures to revitalise sections of the organisation. The BBC already has a Creative Director in Alan Yentob, who is paid £183,500, plus a second salary for presenting the landmark arts strand Imagine. The new “Creative Labels” roles will be based in a new unit called “Development Central” and will come with the task of bringing new creative energy to underperforming areas of the schedule across BBC networks.

“Up until now in the BBC to get status and seniority you have had to become a manager and I want to break that philosophy and give more status and seniority to the most creative people without burdening them with everything which goes with management which can be distracting and is not the best use of their time, said Cohen.

“It’s a way of giving higher profile to creativity and ideas development  and benefiting people who don’t want to become managers but are crucial to the future of the BBC because they are some of our strongest creative. That’s quite a big change in philosophy for us really.”

He admitted that the BBC’s “current structures can stifle the energy and creativity of individuals”. He said: “We have been too siloed before and have risked having too hierarchical structures and the changes I have been trying to make are about releasing creative energy from those siloes and hierarchies.”

Cohen said he hoped the new creative roles would encourage star performers from outside the BBC to consider joining the organisation. “We will start with five or six but may grow it further. We will also use it to bring in interesting people from outside, it can be a really interesting recruitment tool for us because some people might think the BBC is big and I might get lost in there – if we try to recruit some of the most exciting people outside of the BBC it’s a way of giving them a place.”

In a further attempt to encourage creativity the BBC staff who come up with ideas for programme formats will see their names on the credits at the end of programmes, which has not always been the case in the past as executives and producers have claimed kudos for shows. “Everyone who develops an idea will get a credit, we haven’t had a consistent pattern of development credits and we are going to introduce development credits to ensure that that crucial stage in the development of a programme is properly recognised.”

Unfortunately for the BBC, Cohen’s initiative coincided with the announcement by his colleague James Harding, director of news and current affairs, that the BBC was to axe 75 posts in its news division.

In a memo to staff, he said the job losses would “add to uncertainty after what has been a trying year”. He said: "I also appreciate the concern the cost savings come at a time that so many people are working hard to make the most of new technologies and striving to deliver the best journalism in the world. The reality is that we have to live within the terms of the licence fee settlement.”

Cohen said he was excited about working as a runner for the first time. “I didn’t do running because I started in documentary programmes and so I started as a junior researcher,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to an interesting and enjoyable day.”

 

 

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Extras
indybest
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 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

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

Account Director / AD

£Competitive + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Director with a ba...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?