They've still got the shortlist from last time, but which candidate can rescue the BBC?

The Independent's media editor on the search for an outsider to wipe the slate clean after the Newsnight ‘paedophile’ report and Entwistle’s resignation

Share
Related Topics

So who will run the BBC next? When we recently went through the lengthy process to appoint a Director-General one of the noticeable features of the contest was the apparent lack of candidates from outside the organisation.

There seemed to be a feeling that, following a period of great turbulence where the BBC’s territorial ambitions had led it into bruising clashes with media rivals and a major haircut had been inflicted on its budget by a critical new Government, the BBC craved the sort of stability that could best be provided by someone who knew the BBC inside out. That was to be George Entwistle.

This thinking now creates a problem for the BBC Trust. Because the front-runners named to take over the top job – people such as the former Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson and the acting Director General Tim Davie – have both been passed over recently by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and his colleagues as being inferior candidates to Mr Entwistle – who we now know was not up to the job.

How can they go back to their shortlist rejects now? To pick an outsider this time around – and there are many who feel that the BBC’s latest institutional shortcomings make this a necessity – seems like a major change of direction and calls into question the Trust’s own processes as a recruitment body.

Ed Richards, the Ofcom chief executive, is at present the best-placed candidate from outside the Corporation. He is being heavily backed with bookies – just as he was the last time around, when he was given to believe that he had a really strong chance of being appointed. That would suggest Lord Patten likes the cut of his jib and Richards doesn’t seem too scarred by missing out last time.

But he comes with political baggage from his previous links to Tony Blair’s Downing Street and his appointment would escalate even further the BBC’s hostilities with the Daily Mail – which holds a deep grudge against him.

Worse, he is another candidate that was seen as not being as good as George.

Chief executives around Britain will have heard Entwistle being masticated by John Humphrys on live radio and watched through the gaps in their fingers the television pictures of the DG wilting in the camera lights as he tried to respond to a horrific confluence of events. It was hardly a prospectus to encourage the most talented of British leaders to take his place.

What’s more the public will have little sympathy with whoever gets the role. The £450,000 severance payment to George Entwistle for 54 days of not getting on top of his brief has encouraged the idea that DGs are rewarded for failure. According to this thinking the next incumbent has absolutely nothing to lose – but the best candidates for this high-profile role will realise that this is anything but the case.

Lord Patten must oversee this process at a time when some are calling for his own head to roll. Let’s hope he gets it right this time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Day In a Page

 

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
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
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
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride