Alasdair Milne, Director-General who stood up to Thatcher, dies aged 82
He was a charismatic editorial figure, who served the BBC for 34 years
Alasdair Milne, who led the BBC during five years of frequent conflict with Margaret Thatcher's government, has died aged 82.
He was the first television producer to be appointed Director-General of the BBC, a post he held from 1982 to 1987. Shortly before his appointment, he had a foretaste of the controversies that lay ahead when, as director of programmes, he appeared in front of a angry meeting of Tory MPs, alongside the BBC's chairman George Howard, to be harangued about the corporation's coverage of the Falklands War.
They were shouted at by MPs outraged that BBC journalists had reported the information they were receiving from the British government as "claims" to set alongside what the claims made by the Argentine government, and that Panorama had interviewed MPs opposed to the war.
During Milne's term as Director-General, there were similar arguments about the BBC's coverage of the miners' strike and over Kate Adie's reports of the 1986 bombing raids on Libya.
In 1985, the Real Lives programme conducted an extended with Martin McGuinness at a time of intense conflict in Northern Ireland and after Margaret Thatcher had demanded that the IRA and its political wing should be denied the "oxygen of publicity." The Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, called for the programme to be dropped.
It was discussed by the BBC's governors while Milne was on holiday, and they agreed to comply. The decision set off a journalists' strike. Milne took on the governors when he returned.
The film was eventually shown with minor amendments in October 1985, but the argument hastened Milne's departure. A new chairman, Marmaduke Hussey was appointed and one of his first decisions was to ask Milne to leave, which he did in January 1987.
Born on 8 October in India, to Scottish parents, Milne began his career as a BBC trainee in 1954. He went on to be a producer of shows such as Tonight and That Was The Week That Was, before moving into management as controller of BBC Scotland.
Tim Davie, acting Director-General of the BBC, said: "Alasdair Milne was a charismatic editorial figure, who served the BBC for 34 years, leaving as his legacy a raft of outstanding programmes, as well as defending fiercely the editorial independence of the BBC."
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Ryan Gosling granted temporary restraining order against a woman 'convinced she was his twin flame'
Jennifer Lawrence sings in new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 clip on YouTube
Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...
£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...
VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...