Jane Carrington

'Censor' at the BBC World Service


Jane Carrington, administrator: born London 28 November 1929; staff, BBC 1949-86; died Reading, Berkshire 8 November 2005.

For over 20 years, Jane Carrington ensured the smooth operation of the BBC World Service newsroom in Bush House. She was not one of the 100 or so journalists producing the service recognised worldwide for its accuracy and authority, but she had charge of the highly complex rota system needed to make it happen. To a whole generation there, she was simply "Jane". No other identification was necessary. A former correspondent once described her as the last civilised person in Bush House.

Her secret, apart from an enormous capacity for clear thought and a calm temperament, was the huge store of knowledge acquired talking to the staff, and the universal affection in which she was held. She was able to deal with those with large egos, those who dropped out because they had a cold - about which she could be very sniffy - or with substantial numbers caught up in rail strikes. She could persuade one to take on a night shift, or "dawn" in Bush parlance, with such charm that one could almost feel good about spending the night in the newsroom rather than bed.

In a room producing 200 news bulletins and programmes for 44 different language services round the clock, she needed considerable skill to ensure those working in close proximity were best fitted for the job. There were no cock-ups.

Carrington's glass-fronted office overlooking the newsroom was a sanctum of friendly, intelligent conversation. Her door was virtually always open. If it were closed, there was keen interest as to who was in there and why. Jane Carrington was better informed than the most inquisitive of journalists. She knew about liaisons and their break-ups before anyone else; who couldn't stand working with whom; and the progress of people's children.

Although not herself a journalist, she had the journalist's skill of knowing when to be silent to invite that further disclosure which occurs between friends. They knew it would go no further than her office. One former well-known correspondent described her as a model interviewer. The very few with the temerity to question too deeply saw a raising of the eyebrows which made them realise they had stepped over the line.

The new wave of journalists joining in the 1960s found themselves working with people who had fled the Nazis or the Red Army, or both, who had served in the armed forces during the Second World War or (it was whispered) with army intelligence or the secret service. Carrington was a real link between them and those arriving with experience of international news agencies, Africa, Switzerland, Australasia and other parts of the world. She was the keeper of the room's oral history.

She also probably features in the Communist secret police files in Poland. Two senior Polish media officials visiting the newsroom during the Cold War wanted to see the censor. They refused to believe there was no such person and, when they saw Carrington in her "glass box" in the corner, they knew they had found her. They were told she had great power, but was not the censor. Carrington was highly amused.

Born in Hampstead, north London, in 1929, Jane Carrington was the daughter of Noel Carrington, the founder of Puffin Books, and niece of the Bloomsbury artist Dora Carrington. Jane's sister Joanna also became an artist of note, both under her own name and the pseudonym "Reginald Pepper", and Joanna's daughter Sophie is also an artist. After finishing school in Switzerland, Jane joined the BBC aged 20, and stayed for nearly 40 years, until her retirement in 1986.

Jane Carrington was a slight person, quietly spoken. She was also very private but gradually some learned that her disability, which had always been apparent, began when she contracted polio about the age of five, that she loved the garden at her cottage in Dunsfold, Surrey, and the Oxfordshire Downs which surrounded the farm to which her family had moved in 1945.

During retirement, she became confined to a wheelchair but throughout had never mentioned the pain and discomfort. There was a constant stream of visitors to Goring on Thames, where she had a room looking across sweeping lawns to the Thames. Using a chair that could be folded into a car boot, she loved going for lunch at old country pubs she had known much of her life or recently discovered.

Jim Edwards

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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 General

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project