BBC scraps £15,000 oil paintings of outgoing director general in bid to cut costs

Future DGs expected to have their picture taken instead

The BBC is scrapping an 80-year tradition of having its outgoing director generals commemorated with a £15,000 oil painting in a bid to cut costs.

The paintings, which traditionally hang in Broadcasting House, are to be replaced in the future by photographs of departing director generals, according to The Observer.

A BBC source told the paper that having ex-leaders commemorated by commissioning a photograph portrait would be “better value for money” and that a well-taken photo would do the same job but cost “less money”.

The tradition of commissioning oil paintings was started by Lord Reith, the corporation’s first boss, in the 1930s, but the system is one that easily draws criticism, particularly when a director general leaves amid controversy.

“The days of oil paintings have passed,” the source said. “We face a tough economic situation and need to prioritise where we spend our money.”

George Entwistle, the director general who resigned amid the Jimmy Saville scandal in 2012 after just 54 days in the job, did not have his profile painted, though he walked away with a £450,000 payoff.

He is only the fifth director general to have not had a portrait made, out of the 15 that have run the corporation in its history. One former boss, William Haley, who was in place from 1944 to 1952, opted to have a sculpture made at the cost of £1000; while Cecil Graves, Robert Foot and Frederick Ogilvie all missed their chance due to WWII.

It is understood that the policy has already been discussed with Mark Thompson, who left the BBC to become the president and chief executive of the New York Times. His decision as to whether he will opt for a photograph instead of an oil painting is not yet known, though he was said to have been in discussions for several months about choosing an artist.

The Observer claims that the BBC hopes the cheaper option of a photograph will not attract the same accusations of unnecessary expenditure in the lead up to the Charter renewal in 2016.

It is understood that future director generals will not be encouraged to use fashionable photographers such as David Bailey, unless the artists would be prepared to undertake the job for a very low fee.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine