The things they say about John Birt . . .

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The Independent Online
Michael Grade, chief executive of Channel 4, who resigned from the BBC shortly after John Birt arrived as deputy director general in 1987, addressing the Edinburgh Television Conference, 1992:

'John Birt and Marmaduke Hussey had implemented Government's policies using a 'pseudo-Leninist' management style. The BBC had become a secretive and forbidding place to work . . . an airtight fortress from which no stray opinion is permitted to escape. The staff are afraid to speak publicly unless every word has been cleared with the BBC's own thought police.'

Mark Tully, BBC India correspondent, addresses the Radio Academy in 1993, three months after John Birt's tax avoidance plans are revealed:

'I don't think he understands what the BBC was, or indeed, what it should become. So many managers parrot his name that staff feel there is some sort of Big Brother watching them.' Birt had created a 'climate of fear', and turned the BBC into a secret monolith.

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster, in a speech in 1992 to the British Association of Science Festival:

Accountants had taken over; staff morale was being 'gravely eroded' and the 'very things that gave the BBC its unique stature and strength are being destroyed'.

Dennis Potter, speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival in 1993:

John Birt had thrown the BBC into a near fatal crisis. 'Fear and loathing was swirling jugular high' in the corridors of the BBC. 'You cannot make a pair of croak-voiced Daleks appear benevolent, even if you dress one of them in an Armani suit and call the other Marmaduke.'