BBC veteran takes Radio 4 helm - with an Extra

The BBC played it safe by appointing a corporation veteran of 34 years’ experience to the coveted role of controller of Radio 4. Gwyneth Williams, who joins from the BBC World Service, becomes the most senior woman in British radio and is the only female controller in charge of a BBC national network.

As a former head of BBC Radio Current Affairs, Williams has had responsibility for such Radio 4 shows as File on 4 and From Our Own Correspondent. Early in her career she worked on The World Tonight. The appointment of someone with vast radio production experience will please Radio 4’s core audience who are famously resistant to change. She said: “Radio 4 represents the BBC at its best: it is loved and trusted and stands above all for quality.”

Tim Davie, Director BBC Audio & Music, described Williams as “an editorial leader of the highest calibre and a passionate supporter of Radio 4”.

The appointment can also be seen as a reflection of the mood within the corporation, which is under fire over the scale of its territorial aspirations and spending. Williams, who turned 57 this week, will be paid a £180,000 salary – £30,000 less than her predecessor Mark Damazer, who is stepping down after six years to become Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford.

The other front-runners in a drawn-out selection process were the ferociously-ambitious BBC Business Editor Robert Peston, and Peter Barron, the Google communications chief and former editor of BBC2’s Newsnight.

Davie, who joined the BBC from a marketing role with Pepsi, is a moderniser who is keen to prepare the BBC’s radio networks for the era beyond the switch off of the analogue signal. But his strategy took a knock recently when the governing BBC Trust said it could see no case to support the plans of BBC management to drop the 6 Music network in order to focus efforts on the biggest national stations. The chastening experience may have made him less inclined to risk appointing a radio outsider to a network which is seen as such a national treasure that listeners sometimes compare it to a Ming Vase.

In her new role, Williams will have responsibility for the digital station Radio 7, which is being re-branded as Radio 4 Extra and will have closer ties to the larger network. Before studying at Oxford University, she grew up in South Africa and has written books about that country. “I am hugely looking forward to working with so many talented programme-makers, each with a unique contribution to make,” she said. “I want to ensure that this creativity shows on air and delights and inspires our listeners.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing