A radical overhaul of BBC cannot come soon enough

Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Two separate decisions – one profligate, one ridiculous, and each taken by entirely different people – epitomised the way the BBC is run these days.

The first, of course, was the £450,000 given to departing director-general George Entwistle, after he fell on his own sword before someone skewered him between the shoulder-blades.

Entwistle was effectively given his marching orders by John Humphrys, in an interview which relentlessly and systematically dismantled what remained of his professional reputation, before trampling it in the dust.

Ironically, it was an interrogation of such excoriating brutality that it went some way towards restoring the corporation’s reputation for decent journalism.

But then Lord Patten went and spoiled it all by offering the bumbling, burbling, hapless Entwistle a pay-off twice as large as he was entitled to receive.

No surprise there, because his lordship has been employed by the state for well over 30 years in one capacity or another – and like so many of his ilk, has lost all touch with financial reality.

Like many who have spent most of their adult life supping at the public trough, Patten has no problems being generous with other people’s money.

The second example of Beebism at its best was so preposterous it could have been from the script of The Thick of It.

The day after the DG departed, at a time when the BBC was desperate to rescue some scintilla of self-respect for its news-gathering organisation, it lapsed into pantomime mode.

For the one o’clock news, co-presenter Simon McCoy was on location outside its own Salford HQ, linking to Sian Williams in the studio, while everyone else was door-stepping or interviewing each other.

Meanwhile, open rebellion was fermenting among the Old Untouchables, including Jeremy Paxman, the Dimbleby brothers and Andrew Marr.

Even Patten betrayed the unacceptable level of bureaucracy and multi-layer management within the corporation.

‘I was asked to address something called ‘‘the BBC management group’’ one morning,’ he said, ‘and there were well over a hundred people there.’ The ‘radical overhaul’ cannot come soon enough.