BBC director-general Tim Davie has attributed the success of the corporation’s coverage of the Queen’s death and its aftermath as the result of “flawless rehearsal”.
Speaking at the RTS London Convention, Davie revealed he chaired two daily meetings during the mourning period as he rallied staff to get three things right: announcing the Queen’s death; the ‘clutch control’ mourning period, which included clearing planned schedules, cancelling some shows, including satirical output, and postponing the likes of Strictly Come Dancing; and the coverage of the formal ceremonies.
He said cancelling Last Night of the Proms was a tough decision that was influenced by a lack of available outside broadcast trucks, and a reflection of the cancellation of Premier League football matches on the same weekend.
Davie admitted one editorial decision he regretted: “One thing I learnt during the clutch control: never take off Gardener’s World,” he said.
Elsewhere, Davie talked about the BBC’s talent drain, in the wake of Radio 4 presenters and podcasters Jane Garvey and Fi Glover joining Times Radio.
Stressing that only around 3% of presenters have exited in recent times, Davie said: “It’s a hyper competitive market and there will always be people who move out of the BBC.”
He added: “The [personnel] losses I regret more are the production teams or the young reporters who want to move up but feel that they have to do that elsewhere. That is where I’m most focused.”
Davie reiterated his belief that the licence fee remains the best funding option for the BBC.
“You will never be in a position where commercial revenues offset that massive amount from the licence fee,” he said. “It allows you to spend against your objectives and mission. I am not interested in the BBC growing at the expense of the market.”