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Richard Sharp: The new BBC chairman who will have to fight for the corporation’s future

A former banker, he has advised both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak – and is a man they can do business with, writes Sean O’Grady

Sunday 10 January 2021 15:09
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<p>Richard Sharp, the former Goldman Sachs banker who will succeed Sir David Clementi as BBC chairman</p>

Richard Sharp, the former Goldman Sachs banker who will succeed Sir David Clementi as BBC chairman

There are three things you need to appreciate about the soon-to-be chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp. First, he is not Charles Moore. Second, he is extremely rich, by any standard. Third, he has worked with Boris Johnson as an adviser (when Johnson was mayor of London), and more recently with Rishi Sunak on the Covid crisis. He is a man they can do quiet business with: that is good for the BBC.

As an insider says of him and Tim Davie, the new director-general: “He doesn’t court publicity, but neither does he shirk difficult assignments, and he will make an excellent choice to work alongside Tim, given his relationship with the current administration.”

Sharp takes over next month, and will shortly face a confirmatory hearing with the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. Chaired by the thoughtful and effective Tory MP Julian Knight, it also has its share of radical intellects such as Philip Davies, who regards the corporation as a “metropolitan, left-wing, virtue-signalling” organisation that overpays its talent and is out of touch with much of the public. Davies’ encounter with the 64-year-old Sharp, said to be arrogant or charming as he chooses, will be informative, and very possibly entertaining, even if the pair find some narrow common understanding of what Sharp’s mission should be. 

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