Saturday, 1 October 2016

"It apparently takes two men to do one woman's job"

James Purnell

Yesterday's The World at One discussed the promotion of former (Blairite) Labour cabinet minister James Purnell  to the role of BBC Director of Radio and Education (following Helen Boaden's departure for Harvard).

Mark Mardell discussed the appointment with Gillian Reynolds of the Telegraph, then with two Conservative MPs, Andrew Bridgen (a BBC critic) and Ed Vaizey (a BBC fan). 

Gillian Reynolds's disapproval of the appointment was very plain to hear:
It's puzzling. We've know for a while that Helen was heading for the exit. The only question was how soon she would go. Meanwhile, in the waiting area, she negotiated the re-entry of Radio 5 Live into the whole radio portfolio, away from News. So it's a big portfolio. It's very worrying. James Purnell, leaving his politics aside...I can, but can the Conservative Party?...James Purnell has never made a programme in his life, shows little interest in radio. I walked out of a lecture very cross with him last year when he was talking about BBC strategy. Mentioned radio twice. Once was 'Chris Evans'. Now if that counts for radio education...I love 500 words but, you know, there are limits to my patience.
Another interesting moment came at 28:42 when Mark Mardell asked Mr Bridgen about the curious fact that James Purnell will have a deputy - and that, yes, there'll now be two large-salaried BBC jobs where they used to be just one:
And, Andrew Bridgen, it apparently takes two men to do one woman's job? 
Both MPs cracked up with laughter at that. As well they might. The BBC's reputation for profligacy with our money remains something of a (bad) joke.

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