Guy Burgess at the BBC | The early career of the Cambridge spy
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BBC Internal Circulating Memo
Subject: [handwritten] Contract
From: [handwritten] Mr Burgess
To: [handwritten] G.E.O. (Mr D. H. Clarke)
17th February, 1941
1. With reference to your request for my signed contract, I must apologise
for having forgotten to sign it. On looking at it, I see that the salary
proposed is £540 per annum.
You will remember that when we originally discussed my re-appointment to the
B.B.C. you told me that this was the scale figure for someone of my age and
grade joining the talks department without previous experience of broadcasting
- or rather that the salary rose with experience, and would have been higher had
my career in the corporation not been interrupted.
2. I made the point then that I had had two years' experience in the job I am
now doing. Further, that I had only resigned to serve in the war office after
my seconding (rather than my resignation) had been unofficially turned down by
3. It is not mentioned in your covering letter to me whether this point, which
it was stated would be raised by you with D.S.A., has been considered and
rejected. It is understood that two years' broadcasting experience in the
talks department would make a considerable difference to the salary offered,
if it was taken into account, - and would in fact bring the salary offered more
in line with what I was receiving from other government departments, including
the Ministry of Information, before rejoining the corporation.
4. I should also like to make the point that my two years' absence from the
corporation has been largely connected with propaganda, broadcasting and
otherwise, in all its aspects and in many countries.
It is submitted that this fact might also be taken into account in
assessing the subdivision of the grade at which my salary should be fixed.
What is meant by this is that instead of my salary being based on the scale
of no experience, it should be based on that of four years.
[Signed] G. Burgess
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Document Type | Internal Memo
17 February 1941
In this memo explaining why he hasn't signed his contract, Burgess sets out his claim for a higher salary than that offered. He argues not only that he is returning to the BBC with an extra two years' experience under his belt, but also that he has spent the last two years working in broadcasting and propaganda for the government. So, obviously, deserves a pay rise.
Guy Burgess first went to work at the Foreign Office in December 1938 when, with war looming, a new section of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was set up. Known as Section D (for destruction), it was concerned with handling subversion and sabotage in enemy-occupied territory. Part of Burgess' job was to arrange for pro-British broadcasts to be made through channels not open to the BBC. He also helped set up a training camp for European civilian saboteurs in Hertfordshire called 'Guy Fawkes College'. Part of the training Burgess introduced there, according to his biographer Tom Driberg, involved watching the Soviet revolutionary film 'Battleship Potemkin'. Burgess was later sacked from the SIS.
The relative merits of three Cambridge graduates are assessed by the university.
A Cambridge don provides a reference for Guy Burgess
An astute assessment of Burgess' strengths and weaknesses by his Cambridge University tutor.
Burgess is pursued for a photograph by an exasperated BBC administrator.
Burgess, as a BBC producer, advises Blunt about speaking on the radio
Burgess recounts his conversation with a mistrustful Churchill.
Burgess fails to clear his desk when he leaves the BBC.
Burgess forgets to sign his BBC staff contract and is unhappy with the salary offered.
The case of the locked door.
A concerned Director of Talks reports on his handling of Burgess and the locked door incident.
Burgess gives his version of events in the case of the locked door.
Burgess insists on travelling first class and claims for visiting the House of Commons.
A revealing insight into Burgess' working day from an exasperated administrator.
Alarm is expressed at Burgess' profligate use of BBC funds for entertaining MPs.
'MPs are expensive to entertain.'
Burgess' case for travelling first class is disputed.
Burgess persists with his claim for first-class travel.
His country needs him: Burgess is required for essential war work.
The head of the Talks Department is reluctant to let Burgess go.
Guy Burgess plans to leave the BBC to join the Foreign Office.
The manner and timing of Burgess' departure from the BBC causes concern.
A summary of Burgess' strengths, weaknesses and suitability for re-employment.
The BBC may have uncovered a clue to Burgess' recent movements.
The BBC and the Foreign Office are called to account for employing Burgess.
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