Who is embattled BBC director-general Tim Davie?

Who is embattled BBC director-general Tim Davie?

The BBC director-general facing calls to resign over the Gary Lineker row is a former Pepsi executive with past experience dealing with controversies at the corporation.

Tim Davie has had a tumultuous week after his decision to suspend Lineker over a tweet about the Government’s asylum policy caused major disruption to the corporation’s sports coverage, as several presenters and reporters withdrew in solidarity with the former England star.

Faced with open rebellion among the ranks of the corporation’s top sports presenting talent, Mr Davie has already said he wants Lineker “back on air” delivering “world-class sports coverage” together with the BBC.

He has even had to confirm that he will not resign under questioning from one of the BBC’s own journalists, Nomia Iqbal, in Washington DC on Saturday.

Despite the intense scrutiny Mr Davie has faced this week, it is not his first time dealing with a major crisis at the corporation.

In November 2012, Mr Davie, who was chief executive of BBC Worldwide at the time, stepped in to become acting director-general of the BBC after George Entwistle left the corporation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

He served in the post until Lord Tony Hall took over in April 2013.

After Lord Hall became director-general, Mr Davie returned to BBC Worldwide and oversaw a merger with BBC Studios in 2018 and later became chief executive of the production.

He then got his opportunity to take on the director-general role for a second time when Lord Hall resigned in 2020.

Following his appointment, Mr Davie promised to “accelerate change” at the BBC.

“Looking forward, we will need to accelerate change so that we serve all our audiences in this fast-moving world,” he said.

“Much great work has been done, but we will continue to reform, make clear choices and stay relevant. I am very confident we can do this because of the amazing teams of people that work at the BBC.”

Tim Davie at BBC Scotland in Glasgow for his first day in the role as director-general
Tim Davie at BBC Scotland in Glasgow for his first day in the role as director-general (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Davie, who was born in 1967 and educated at Whitgift School in Croydon, south London, and then Cambridge University, came to the BBC via a career in the private sector.

Like under-fire BBC chairman Richard Sharp, Mr Davie’s own impartiality has been questioned by critics due to his past links to the Conservative Party.

In the 1990s he was deputy chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives, standing unsuccessfully as a councillor in 1993 and 1994.

Prior to joining the BBC in 2005, Mr Davie served as the vice president for marketing and franchise for drinks giant PepsiCo Europe.

When he joined the broadcaster, he became director of its marketing, communications and audiences division.

Mr Davie subsequently became director of the BBC’s audio and music division in 2008, assuming responsibility for its national radio stations.

It was in his first year in this role that Mr Davie had to address another major controversy, this time surrounding a prank call made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs on Radio 2.

Brand quit the station after the broadcast of the pre-recorded prank, in which he left an obscene message on Sachs’s voicemail.

Mr Davie also decided to axe the 6 Music radio station in 2010, a decision which was later reversed.