The eagerly awaited, explosive account by Greg Dyke of his four years at the helm of the BBC – and of their fiery end in January this year.
On 28 January 2000, Greg Dyke became Director-General of the BBC. His appointment was controversial. He was accused of being a 'Tony crony'. The organization he joined was in trouble. An atmosphere of fear permeated the BBC; his predecessor, John Birt, was disliked by large numbers of the staff. People believed what they achieved was 'despite' the management, not thanks to it.
In the next four years, Greg Dyke launched four new TV channels and five radio stations, and changed the culture of the whole organization. BBC One became the most popular channel in Britain for the first time. Staff surveys showed a complete turnaround in the attitude of the people working for the BBC.
On 28 January 2004 Greg Dyke left his post after the biggest conflict between the Government and the BBC in living memory. The Iraq war had claimed another victim. When he announced he was going, some 3000 members of the staff took to the streets to protest. Thousands signed petitions.
This is Greg Dyke's story of those few years – plus a lot more…
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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:
‘Very entertaining and lots of jokes.’ Daily Mail
‘Both Dyke’s critics and admirers will find what they want in this straightforward book.’ Evening Standard
‘A must-read for anyone interested in the history of British broadcasting. The once famous names of great progammes…float past as he spiritedly recreates the intensity of the wars over franchises and breakfast television…A good read and an historical contribution.’ Brenda Maddox, Literary Review
‘The most accessible of all books written by those who have held high office in the BBC.’ Irish Times
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