News that Tony Hall was to be the new Director-General of the BBC came as a surprise on Thursday. Quite a few surprises in fact.
First, the surprise of hearing his name. Second, the pleasant surprise of being reminded that Hall was a former BBC man. And third come the press conference in the afternoon (pictured above), realising to what extent the appointment itself had been a relief. Closure.
In reality, that isn’t how it is at all. Reviews, reports, and various select committees. But for the time being at least, it feels as though the car has been retrieved from the ditch, jump-started and the engine running gently in readiness for the long journey ahead.
On Friday, I said goodbye to a colleague who was going on a career break for a year. I hugged her tightly, quietly hoping to myself she’d return after her year away but fearing she might not.
I always feel the same way when someone good steps off the BBC merry-go-round. Saying goodbye to those who played a crucial part in my formative experiences almost feels as my training wheels are being detached and that now I’ve got to fend for myself.
“Are you OK?” I asked her, “You’re looking really tired.” She confessed to finding the process of ‘leaving’ unexpectedly emotional. “”I didn’t appreciate how attached to this place I was,” she said, “like you, if you slice me open you’ll ‘public service broadcaster’ running right through me. It’s been a difficult day.”
It was the first time that anyone had been able to articulate why when the BBC is in the news (for all the wrong reasons) it has the emotional effect it does on staff that it has on me over the past couple of weeks.
To work at the Beeb you have to invest a certain amount of yourself in the organisation. Little wonder it takes its toll when its under attack. And little wonder too we experience that sense of relief when good things happen too.