Confessions from the City: The BBC radio producer on the "cuts madness"

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To understand the delight of working for today’s Auntie, with the sword of Damocles endlessly hanging over our heads, we have to flash forward.

The year is 2050. An ape is digging in the ruins of a Greggs. He finds a small, shiny container. Inside this “time capsule” are pictures of people called John Humphrys, Jarvis Cocker and Jenni Murray. Who were they? There’s also a recording of something called Late Junction. A map tells us that under this ruinous site lies something called the Blue Peter Garden. 

Back to the present and I’m slumped at my mixing desk trying to forget Glastonbury. I hold the BBC responsible for turning Glastonbury into the musical equivalent of Wimbledon… only with nitrous oxide instead of Pimms. Actually, Glastonbury probably has loads of Pimms, too. 

I’m hoping Tony Hall will come out fighting the Government. I want him to pound David Cameron with his fists, as he shouts “to inform” and “to educate”. In my dream he’d finish him off with “to entertain”.

The truth is we’ve been through this cuts madness before. Repeatedly. I remember when 6Music was saved. The battle was won. The war was over. But it was never over, not for a second.

The latest set of attacks don’t just come from outside the BBC. Nope. Most of the chatter in the newsrooms and studios is about the threats from within. 

The BBC plans to make around 27,000 hours of radio open to competition between internal production teams, and independents. The independents will be rubbing their hands with glee — bagging all of them would give enough cash to buy a golden castle on the moon. The truth, however, is that it will fundamentally change the culture of the Beeb.

Co-operation and trust will be wiped out, and job security will be a concept as alien as free healthcare. Competition could be another virus that wipes out its host.


What’s more, social media has infected BBC Radio like some kind of bullshit virus, slowly devouring its host by forcing it to redistribute its resources. It’s lovely that I now get to use PhotoShop to make pretty pictures with pithy phrases, but I also have a bloody radio show to make. 

Back to 2050, a bearded astronaut is walking along a beach. Beneath the sand he sees the top of Broadcasting House poking out. Falling to his knees, he exclaims: “You Maniacs! You ruined it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

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August 8, 2015 |
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