Bob Phillis, the BBC's second-in-command, is quitting the Corporation. He will bow out as deputy director-general and chief executive of BBC Worldwide in November to become chief executive of the Guardian Media Group.
Relations with his boss, John Birt, were strained at the turn of the year when the DG unilaterally overhauled the structure of the BBC World Service, a move which appeared to undermine his authority. But this rift appeared to be swiftly healed.
Mr Phillis (pictured), 51, stressed last night that his latest career switch did not stem from any disillusionment with Birtism. "I wasn't looking for any new job. This offer came completely out of the blue in the summer," he said.
"It has been a great privilege to be part of the BBC during the past five years."
Mr Birt praised his outgoing deputy, describing him as "an invaluable and supportive colleague who helped to steer the BBC through a period of unprecedented change." Mr Phillis had grown the Corporation's commercial revenues and helped maintain the World Service as the world's leading global broadcaster.
A senior BBC insider said last night: "Bob was a bit tired of being number two and eager to be top dog again", pointing out that he had previously been in command of ITN and Carlton Communications Plc. There are no immediate plans to appoint a new deputy director-general and Sam Younger, managing director of the World Service, will report directly to the DG when Mr Phillis departs.
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