Guy Burgess at the BBC | The early career of the Cambridge spy
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From: Controller (Home)
Subject: MR. GUY BURGESS
To: D.G. through D.D.G
1st April, 1944
[Handwritten note: DG
If he has resigned there is nothing more to be done but FO ought not to have
offered him a post without our agreement.][illegible initials and date 3rd April]
Mr. Burgess submitted his resignation on 4th March in order to be free to take
up work in the Foreign Office News Department. I discussed the matter with him,
and he told me that, although he liked his present work in the BBC, he thought
the chance of employment under the Foreign Office and of this leading to
permanent appointment there, was one he should not miss. I found, however,
that we had heard nothing from the Foreign Office as to their willingness to
employ him and advised him not to take a risk, as he was ready to do, by
resigning from the BBC without knowing that there was in fact anything to go to.
He accordingly took back his resignation, but has now submitted it again.
D.T. and I think it quite useless to attempt to retain any Talks producer
who really wants to leave. No producer, we think, can pull his weight in
broadcasting, which demands wholehearted enthusiasm, if he is retained in it
against his will - even if this were possible. I therefore recommend that Mr.
Burgess' resignation should be accepted and that he should be released three
months from the date of its submission, in accordance with his contract. It
would, however, I think, be only fair to count the period of notice as
beginning on 4th March, the date on which he first submitted his resignation,
since he withdrew it at my suggestion. He would
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then be released on 4th June, but we could make him available to the Foreign
Office from 1st May, for a maximum of two hours a day, to learn his work there.
Mr. Burgess is a very good producer and, although he has his failings, will be
a serious loss to the Talks Department. That, however, I am afraid, cannot be
(Sir Richard Maconachie)
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Document Type | Internal Memo
01 April 1944
This fascinating memo confirms that the BBC was reluctant to let Burgess go because he was a good producer (a phrase that would later come back to haunt the organisation). It also points to possible tension in relations between the BBC and the Foreign Office, as disapproval is expressed about job offers being made to BBC staff without prior notification to BBC management.
Read further correspondence on this subject.
A 1955 government report into the disappearance of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean concluded that 'Both men were free to go abroad at any time. In some countries, no doubt, Maclean would have been arrested first and questioned afterwards. In this country, no arrest can be made without adequate evidence.'
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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