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Feedback: FOOC

Friday 3 February 2012, 20:30

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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Canteen

Bush House canteen, 1960

On Wednesday this week I was sitting in the entrance hall of Bush House off the Strand in London, home of the BBC World Service although not for much longer.

By the end of the year almost all of its present inhabitants will have moved a mile or so north west to the newly refurbished Broadcasting House, which will host the Corporation's News centre.

I felt rather nostalgic.

I sat in the same place on my first day in the BBC in 1967, a young trainee from the north, overpowered by the lofty building and the lofty people in it, many of whom adjourned to the bar at every opportunity to discuss past glories and present conquests.

The best thing about Bush for me in those far off days was the canteen which provided, at very reasonable and subsidised prices, dishes from every part of the world.

However many of the producers seemed bored by the food, living off coffee and cigarettes, wearing black roll necked sweaters and probably planning revolutions in their home countries, from which many had fled or been exiled.

It give me quite a jolt to realise that, back then, not only was the Iron Curtain uncracked but Spain and Portugal were not yet democracies and Mao's Little Red Book was being touted as more important and relevant than the Bible.

By the time I reached Bush, From Our Own Correspondent, had already been broadcast from there for more than 10 years.

FOOC, as it is inevitably known in the BBC, and best pronounced without a northern accent, has hardly changed its format in 55 years and judging from our in tray is still greatly admired, though as you will hear even fans can be critical. Fooc's editor is Tony Grant. You can hear him in today's programme on the website.

By the way it's not too late to send us your application to be the next Direct General of the BBC.

Even though Mark Thompson has not made public his intentions, the BBC Trust says it is engaged in "sensible succession planning" to replace him.

So do let us know if you think you are up to the job and we may organise an on air preliminary interview as we did this week for listener Rwth (sic) Jones.

I hope the internal candidates are listening as they could pick up a few valuable tips.

Thanks for listening, and reading.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback

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    Comment number 1.

    It is not an easy job to choose the next Director General. Finding someone with what Lord Patten calls the right "bench strength" will not only be difficult but may in fact may be discriminatory. The thought of Lord Patten and Mark Thompson in leotards running to remove a heavy barbell from a woman's chest is not a pleasing one. A strange test - but he's the Chairman!

    Why has Thompson not already been removed? After his lamentable interview with PD James a couple of years ago he should have been fired on the spot. This man is responsible for spending £3 billion of licence payers' money a year and he revealed himself to be a tongue-tied mumbler.

    Greg Dyke revealed this week that when he accepted the job on a salary of £330,000 his previous salary was in the region of £1 million. So the first question for prospective internal candidates on excessive salaries must be: How much of a cut in salary would you be willing to accept to become DG? Dyke also pointed out that the great thing about the job is that you do not have to raise money; you just have to spend it! Perhaps someone from outside with experience of raising money would be a sound choice?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    And if FOOC of southern sounding-is so much loftier, then we can expect that the next to ascend will have nothing of the Salford, et envirions, about her or him.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    And a propos FOOC reminds me of the story of a musician who found that if he could have the notation of the music copied out by one socially enhanced he would always get a higher quality of wind out of his instrument.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    The DG job could be abolished if the heads of department are competent then all they need to do is get on with the job and report direct to Pattens BBC Trust.
    The idea of having a president (one person in charge) has always stuck be as being undemocratic. That was the problem with all the Arab spring countries they lurched from one "big man" to another.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    FOOC is, deservedly, one the BBC's flagship programmes. The development of the internet has helped enhance it, the FOOC website with transcipts of some of the reports, the programme page with full details of the broadcast and, latterly, podcasts of the programme allowing you to listen when and wherever you are.

    When the WS edition of the FOOC was the longer (twice) weekly edition there was a podcast for it as well as the domestic editions. With the change to the daily (Mon-Fri) shorter editions this stopped, except at the turn of the year podcasts where suddenly available. This was great but after a week it stopped. A pity as, though some reports are duplicated on the domestic FOOC others are unique to the WS. Can podcasts for the WS editions be brought back please?

    A brief comment on the programmes pages for FOOC. After the programme is broadcast these are revised to show each report as an individual chapter. This is an excellent idea as, if you just want to listen to one report it is much easier, plus the information for each report is expanded. Occasionally a glitch happens and the breakdown into chapters fails to materialize but there doesn't seem to be any easy way to notify someone to get this rectified.

 

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