Good news at last: BBC’s new boss gets a warm welcome

More than a decade after he missed out, Tony Hall hailed as man to revive the troubled corporation

Such was the adulation that greeted the appointment of Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC today that one could not help by wonder why the Royal Opera House chief had not been appointed before.

The BBC Trust, which selected Hall just 12 days after the resignation of his ill-fated predecessor George Entwistle and without advertising the position, said that its decision had been “unanimous” and that no other candidates had been approached.

Given the rapidity of the process Lord Patten, the chairman of the Trust, faced questions as to why Mr Hall, a highly-regarded former BBC news chief, had not been selected earlier this year rather than Mr Entwistle, who held the post for just 54 days before stepping down this month following the furore over the Lord McAlpine and Jimmy Savile scandals.

Lord Patten said Mr Hall, 61, who was also overseeing the Cultural Olympiad as part of London 2012, had considered that his age was against him. “He said he’d loved his time at the BBC but maybe a younger person should do the job,” said the BBC Trust chairman. “Clearly by this November things had changed substantially.”

The BBC had previously missed a chance to give Mr Hall the top job in 2000 when it chose Greg Dyke, who was brought down by the Hutton inquiry four years later. Instead, Mr Hall headed to the Royal Opera House where he has greatly improved its standing and increased annual revenues from £45m to £106m.

BBC sources said that when the organisation was plunged into its latest leadership crisis, the Opera House chief “saw the moment and understood that he is needed”.

His appointment was applauded by senior BBC figures who remember him as the man who launched key services such as Radio 5 Live, 24-hour television news and BBC News Online. BBC grandee David Dimbleby commented: “I feel like I’m serving in the Royal Navy when the message came in: ‘Winston is back.’”

Alan Yentob, the BBC Creative Director, told The Independent: “He is very thoughtful and has got good judgement – this is a great day for the BBC.”

Hall has a strong journalistic track record as a former chief executive of BBC News and editor of the Nine O’Clock News. The BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen, currently based in Gaza, tweeted to welcome him back. “Excellent appointment,” he said.

Arriving at New Broadcasting House in London yesterday, Mr Hall admitted it “takes a lot” to lure him away from a job where he spends his working hours in the company of the Royal Ballet’s prima ballerinas, masterful set designers and globally-famous opera singers.

But as he spoke to staff he quickly began to use the inclusive language that will be needed to rebuild the organisation’s shattered confidence. “I am absolutely committed to our news room as a world-beater,” he said.

The new DG will actually take up his post in March as he turns 62. Entwistle was 50 when he began the job two months ago and the previous incumbent, Mark Thompson, was 46.

Tim Davie, who will remain acting Director General until the Spring, is only 45.

But Hall, who will be the 16th DG and will receive a salary of £450,000 (slightly more than the £390,000 he received at the Royal Opera House) is a hands-on leader who patrols the corridors of his Covent Garden empire with a vigour that suggests he has energy for the task ahead. He is a technology enthusiast who has promoted opera through 3D cinema screenings and the development of an iPad app which takes users behind the scenes at the Opera House by allowing them to play at being “stage manager”.

He is a fully-paid up member of the Arts establishment who works closely with the likes of Sir Nicholas Serota of the Tate and Sir Nicholas Kenyon of the Barbican in raising Britain’s cultural profile. But he also talks incessantly of “engaging new audiences” and has tried to make opera prices more affordable.

Since becoming a peer in March 2010 he has sat firmly on the cross benches.

Lord McAlpine today confirmed that he had received £125,000 and legal costs from ITV following an on-air stunt by Phillip Schofield, in which the peer was wrongly smeared on a list of “Tory paedophiles” handed to David Cameron by the presenter.

Tony Hall: Career highlights

1985 Becomes editor of the Nine O’Clock News at the age of 34, having joined the BBC as a trainee 12 years earlier

1994 Launches Radio 5 Live, a network that will go on to become a BBC institution

1999 As chief executive of BBC News, Hall, at the age of 48, applies to become Director-General but  is passed over in favour of Greg Dyke

2001 Appointed chief executive of the Royal Opera House. He inherits a struggling organisation with annual turnover of £45m. He turns that into £106m

2012 The sudden resignation of George Entwistle gives him an unexpected opportunity to take the BBC’s top job at the age of 61

Related links:

Tony Hall: The man with a front row seat in our arts establishment

 

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices