Pandora: Simpson fears for the future of the BBC

Barely two months after Sir Terry Wogan claimed the BBC was no longer the world's best broadcaster, the corporation is facing what amounts to a vote of no confidence from one of the most respected voices in its news department.

John Simpson, the BBC's long-serving world affairs editor, has cast a bleak picture of the Beeb's future as the licence fee is "chopped away". Speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival yesterday, Simpson described the current model of the BBC as being "in the last stages".

"We are already cutting back on all our operations across the board, as a result of the effective cut in the licence fee," he said. "The future? Well, I don't think it's going to look very good for the BBC. I think the BBC we have known, for good or worse, is now in its last stages. It pains me after 42 years of working for it to think that, but I alas do. It will be very different indeed. It may be better, but I somehow doubt it. What the hell do I care? I'll be 75 or something like that."

As for his own future, after filing reports from over 100 countries including 30 war zones, Simpson was equally glum, reserving special vitriol for the men in grey suits.

"I shall no doubt be sacked under horrible circumstances. Things will be absolutely dreadful," he added. "I'll hate the so and so's – I hate them pretty much anyway, but I'll hate them even more."

Tweedy day out for Josh

Josh Hartnett appears to be taking to English life like a duck to water.

The Black Hawk Down star, who is currently treading the boards in the West End production of the Oscar-winning film Rain Man, has been spotted frequenting several London watering holes since arriving in the capital in August.

Just recently, I hear, Hartnett has also taken an interest in country sports at the behest of the Hong Kong businessman David Tang. "Josh recently got an invite to do a spot of pheasant-bashing," says my man in the waxed jacket. "Tangy apparently even took him to Holland and Holland in Mayfair to help get him kitted out. I'm not 100 per cent sure Josh had a go with a gun himself on the day, but would have certainly had all the gear."

Esler's work of political fiction rings rather true

The revelations about Gavin Esler's private life haven't just whipped the tabloids into a frenzy, they've also set tongues wagging in the world of publishing.

The Newsnight presenter was reported at the weekend to have left his wife and moved in with a "raunchy" musician 28 years his junior called Anna Phoebe, known in the industry as the "vixen of the violin".

Publishing sources gleefully point out that the affair has an eerie resonance with a novel that Esler, 55, released earlier this year, called A Scandalous Man. The book tells the story of an ambitious politician whose career ends when his affair with an Iranian journalist is discovered by the press. "With friends in Downing Street, the White House and the CIA, he is known as the brightest politician of his generation, tipped to go all the way to the top," says the synopsis. "But when the media discover Robin is at the heart of a shocking sex scandal, his glittering career comes to an abrupt end."

I do hope this won't be a case of life imitating art.

Quentin spells it out

Brad Pitt's long-awaited collaboration with Quentin Tarantino is causing quite the kerfuffle among movie buffs.

Yesterday, a press release was sent out announcing that cameras had begun rolling in Germany on their Second World War epic, to be called Inglourious Basterds.

Previously, all reference to the film had been made with the standard spelling "Inglorious Bastards", but apparently the incorrect new format is the way it should be referred to from now on. "We are not entirely sure the reasons why it has been changed. We think it just has to be one of those Tarantino-esque things," says a spokesman for the film's British publicists. "All we do know is that is definitely the title from now on."

Marketing experts reckon Tarantino could be on to something. The change of spelling certainly gets the producers round any problems they might encounter with advertising standards watchdogs when the film is released next year.

Deer cost of Vaizey's no-show

The Shadow Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey, appeared as a guest on Radio 4's The Westminster Hour on Sunday evening.

He had to give his answers down the phone line after failing to make it in to BBC Oxford, owing to a run-in with the local wildlife en route to the studio. "The car picking me up had a mishap," explained the Tory member for Wantage to presenter Carolyn Quinn. "I'm OK and the driver is OK, but a passing deer may not be OK."

Owen receives a welcome snub

Lord Owen and Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail sketchwriter, were speakers at a literary lunch organised by The Oldie magazine at Simpson's-in-the-Strand yesterday. Letts was there to plug his latest book, 50 People Who Buggered up Britain, which barely needs explanation. "Oh," said the peer, taking a nervous peek through Pandora's copy. "Am I in this?" Mercifully, Letts had chosen to omit him from the hit-list.

Gold 'less genteel', but Kelly's not bitter

A new generation of students are now able to enjoy the delights of daytime favourite Going for Gold after it relaunched on Monday with John Suchet.

But what does the original show's presenter, Henry Kelly, make of the revamp?

"I saw a bit of it, but now they can win money it makes it a little less genteel. Michael Grade was very against that," he tells me. "But I'm not bitter. If they'd asked I would have done it. I'll just have to hope Jeff Stelling turns down Countdown."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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 People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried