George Entwistle: A good chap in the trenches who can command respect

He will find it easier to impose further budgetary restrictions than a DG without strong BBC roots

Such is his interest in military affairs that the man named yesterday as Director-General of the BBC was once fondly referred to by colleagues as "General Sir George" and his "address" listed in an internal directory as "The Old Barracks".

But the irony of that title is that George Entwistle has long been regarded by long-serving BBC employees as a good chap to have alongside you in the trenches, rather than someone born to be giving out the orders.

The retiring Director-General, Mark Thompson, who has championed Entwistle and been anxious to endorse him as his successor, seemed to go out of his way to counter that view as he praised the new appointee as "an outstanding leader" and someone who has recently "shown his calibre as a leader".

In fact, Entwistle's most high-profile leadership activity of late has been to oversee the widely criticised BBC coverage of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, although as Director of BBC Vision he can hardly be held responsible for some of the crass editorial errors which occurred on the day and drew public ire. Other than that, he has been a relatively low-key figure, slowly but surely climbing the rungs of the BBC for the past 23 years after joining the organisation as a trainee. Married with two children, he celebrates his 50th birthday on Sunday.

Although he was quickly among the front-runners for the top job when Thompson announced he was stepping down in April, Entwistle has until recently been a relatively anonymous BBC executive. The likes of former Deputy Director-General Mark Byford, former Director of Vision Jana Bennett, creative chief Alan Yentob and the smooth former Controller of BBC1 Peter Fincham all once seemed closer to the throne.

Unlike Fincham, who took the rap for the "Queengate" fakery scandal, or Byford, who enraged colleagues over his salary arrangements, the General has kept out of the line of fire and maintained the respect of the troops. Compared to the past pay of some BBC bosses, his £270,000 salary is relatively modest.

Entwistle's record as a programme maker made him the BBC journalists' DG of choice among the final candidates. Part of his talent has been his ability to avoid controversy. At Newsnight, where he was a long-standing deputy editor and then editor, he was admired for his ability to fix and tidy stories others had gathered, ensuring they bore the hallmark of the BBC and did not challenge editorial guidelines. The programme won five Royal Television Society awards under his editorship, but Entwistle is not regarded as a risk-taker, nor someone with remarkable creative flair.

Under Thompson's tutelage, he has become a key member of the BBC's strategic team, ensuring he is well placed to confront the problems the organisation faces globally and internally. He is enthusiastic about the potential of new technologies and will find it easier to impose further budgetary restraints than a DG without his strong roots in the BBC.

Physically, Entwistle rather resembles not so much a Custer or a Washington as another famous George, who shares his habit of wearing suits; George Passmore from the art duo Gilbert & George. Entwistle has his artistic leanings, too, and was the launch editor of BBC2's The Culture Show.

During his time at BBC Knowledge, he showed his appreciation of the arts by commissioning a season on opera across three BBC networks. He also headed up coverage of the Papal visit in 2010. In the same year, the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain gave him a chance to indulge his tastes in military matters with notable programmes on three television channels.

And now, after a skilfully executed leadership campaign, Director-General George Entwistle can take command of the BBC.

George Entwistle: Career highs and lows

1989

A graduate of philosophy and politics at Durham University, he joins BBC as a trainee. He then becomes an assistant producer on Panorama, working on coverage of the first Gulf War and the fall of Margaret Thatcher.

2001

Appointed Editor of Newsnight, starting work in his new role the day before 9/11. The programme won awards but was sucked into the Hutton Inquiry over reports on weapons inspector David Kelly.

2004

Launches The Culture Show with Verity Sharp on BBC2. Accused of dumbing down arts coverage but it has run for eight years. He executive produced arts films for BBC4 and was chair of a workgroup as part of Mark Thompson's creative future strategy review.

2005

Head of Current Affairs Takes Panorama back into primetime, with Jeremy Vine as presenter. He also commissions current affairs documentary series for BBC2 including Blair: The Inside Story.

2008

Controller of Knowledge Commissioning producing more than 1,600 hours of television output a year. He expands the BBC's online footprint but is embarrassed by a leaked document ranking BBC presenters and describing Michael Palin and Delia Smith as having "limited appeal".

2011

Director of BBC Vision on salary of £270,000 a year. He oversees shows ranging from the reality show The Voice to the drama Birdsong. Faces criticism over the BBC's coverage of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, which is described as "mind-numbingly tedious" by BBC presenter Stephen Fry, and "lamentable" by former BBC news executive Kevin Marsh.

Suggested Topics
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments