The eagerly awaited, frequently explosive and always entertaining memoirs of the recent Director-General of the BBC, whose departure in January 2004 caused a huge popular outcry.
Greg Dyke grew up in the 1950s in the small West London suburb of Hayes. Written off as a dud by his schoolteachers, he attended York University before becoming a local newspaper reporter. At the age of 30, he was unemployed. Then came his lucky break: he became a current affairs researcher at London Weekend Television.
LWT, TVAM, TV5, Pearson Television – Greg Dyke's progress has been an extraordinary rollercoaster ride through some of our favourite programmes, and his descriptions of the personalities and rivalries are animated by an irrepressible love of the medium.
Then, on 28 January 2000, he became Director-General of the BBC. His appointment was almost as controversial as his departure was to be exactly four years later; he was accused of being a 'Tony crony' and his instincts were regarded as being far too populist: Yet, in his relatively brief spell at the helm, he not only launched four new TV channels and five radio stations, but also transformed an organization blighted by his predecessor, John Birt, kicking out the consultants and backing the programme-makers.
When he left his post after the biggest conflict between the government and the BBC in living memory, some 3000 members of his staff took to the streets in an unprecedented protest. Thousands signed petitions.
Greg Dyke tells his full side of this story – the background of relentless pressure from the thuggish Alastair Campbell and Number 10; the rights and wrongs (but mostly rights) of the Gilligan affair; the fatal flaws of the Hutton Inquiry; the bad behaviour of some of the Governors.
All in all, Inside Story is a riveting read about a high-profile life that takes the lid off a wide range of political and media issues, and never fails to entertain.
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Greg Dyke is the former Director-General of the BBC who was forced to leave his post following a battle with the government over reporter Andrew Gilligan’s claim that the government had knowingly ‘sexed up’ the intelligence relating to Iraq’s military capabilities. Inside Story makes no attempt at live and let live, which is a bonus for readers. It was no secret that Dyke felt he had been unjustly treated. He himself opens the book by saying that he has always found autobiographies ‘ridiculously self-serving’ and not to be taken too seriously. So why would anyone be interested on more words spent on the ‘Gilligan affair’ and why should we be interested in his life? The answer to each of these questions is that, firstly, the real story about the Gilligan affair, the role of Alistair Campbell, the BBC governors, John Scarlett, the Hutton enquiry and Tony Blair is in the fine details. Second, if you are at all interested in television then Dyke’s story is a fascinating one. Before becoming Director-General of the BBC in 2000 he was Editor-in-Chief at TV-am, Director of Programmes at TVS and LWT, the Director of Channel Four Television and Chairman and Chief Executive of Pearson Television. Discovering how the world of broadcasting works, how it has changed and developed over the years, seeing how and why television shows succeed or fail and hearing of the personalities, friendships, rivalries and political in-fighting from someone who sat at the top of the tree is informative and highly entertaining in itself.
Dyke devotes a whole chapter to a painstaking and ultimately damning analysis of the Hutton Report, particularly Hutton’s ruling that it was not part of his remit to consider to what sort of weapons of mass destruction the Government’s dossier on Iraq actually referred. The BBC itself, or at least the governors, are named and shamed for their cowardice in the face of political bullying and, in the short concluding chapter, Dyke persuasively argues that the structure of the BBC should be reformed and the governors disbanded on the grounds that they are, literally, a group of amateurs who belong to a bygone age. Finally, and most importantly, Dyke forces the reader to accept a stark choice: either Tony Blair knew that Iraq was incapable of threatening Britain with weapons of mass destruction (which means he lied about the ’45 minutes from destruction’ claim) or he didn’t (which means he is incompetent). What makes the final chapters compelling is that Dyke tells a plausible story about how the government, how Tony Blair, got away with misleading the country. There’s no conspiracy theory here, just a story about a slightly careless reporting, a pressured head of intelligence, a powerful spin-doctor, an amateurish Lord who allegedly made an inexplicable mistake and a group of cowardly BBC governors. On the whole, between the television and the politics, Inside Story makes for a fascinating and revelatory read. --Larry Brown,/i>Review:
"carefully researched and deadly in its aim...formidable" -- The Guardian
"very readable....the book has entertaining anecdotes and lots of jokes" -- Daily Mail
'The book demonstrates the energy, passion, intelligence and commitment that made Dyke an exceptional director general.' -- New Statesman
'a breezy read' -- The Independent
'a pacy romp....Dyke's book is far greater than the episode about the BBC and Iraq...should be required reading' -- The Observer
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