The Londoner: Dimbleby says W1A has BBC to a T

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David Dimbleby issued a stark warning to the BBC yesterday saying “a lot of garbage goes on” within the Corporation as he urged it to get its house in order. “W1A was absolutely right. There are a lot of people talking about ‘I’m head of ideas, I’m head of originality,’” he said praising the depiction of the BBC in W1A, the TV satire produced by the organisation. “If I were director general of the BBC… I wouldn’t want to go in consoling the BBC that everything’s going to be all right, because everything’s not all right,” said the former Question Time host and Beeb veteran. “I would want to demonstrate a real powerful, radical approach to what the BBC is doing.”

The BBC is currently scouting for a new director general and the Government will appoint a new chairman next year, as fears rise that No10 will make changes to the licence fee on which it depends. “There’s a lot of overblown spending, duplication of resources. It never gets handled,” added Dimbleby. ‘I would go for a chairman who can genuinely make the point about the role of the BBC in a democratic society.” Dimbleby is not the first BBC star to back changes to the broadcaster. Match of the Day host Gary Lineker recently suggested it introduces a “voluntary licence fee”.

The former home secretary, Amber Rudd, a fellow panellist of Dimbleby at the Tortoise Media ThinkIn, revealed her two children aren’t fans of the fee either. “I have two children in their 20s,” Rudd said. “I doubt very much that they pay a licence fee.” Mum! Rudd also suggested the BBC fund itself via a combination of “reducing the licence fee, finding additional funds, a slice of advertising”. Ex-culture minister Ed Vaizey, meanwhile, backed the Government’s controversial return of John Whittingdale to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as Minister of State. “John Whittingdale is not the anti-BBC ogre that he is portrayed as,” said Vaizey. “He’s not a cheerleader for the BBC, but nor is he idiotic and wanting just to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” If Dominic Cummings gets his way, it sounds like they’ll throw out the tub.

A promised land

Andrew Neil, broadcaster and chairman of The Spectator, says Brexit Britain will resemble Israel. “There has been a lot of talk that we’re heading for a kind of Singapore-on-Thames,” Neil said yesterday, adding that “couldn’t be more wrong”. Neil explained to a manufacturing conference that the “closest international parallel to what is an emerging British government industrial strategy, is Israel” because of their concentration of research and development institutes around a university in the Negev desert. “So if you can transform a desert, Sunderland has a chance.” That’s a bright outlook for the North.


Munroe Bergdorf (Getty Images)

Munroe Bergdorf says she is fed up of being referred to as a “trans model”. Speaking to The Londoner at The Nest rooftop bar at the Treehouse hotel yesterday, she said: “Why can’t I just be ‘model’ or just my name? It’s redundant to me. It’s like saying ‘woman politician’ or ‘woman teacher’.”


Caroline Criado Perez says although it is “adorable” that a study shows men often overestimate their intelligence, dodgy promotions follow. Speaking to an Intelligence Squared audience last night, the Invisible Women author said: “Maybe a system that is designed around leaving it up to them to decide who deserves one is a little bit flawed.” Hold that raise.

Jet-set Ronan at luxury green zone

Ronan Keating and Storm (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

As Ronan Keating almost put it, you say it best, when you demonstrate a positive social and environmental impact. The Irish singer attended the Positive Luxury Awards last night to celebrate luxury brands with proven sustainable development. The former Boyzone star was joined by his wife, Storm, and fashion designer Anastasia Webster. Keating is not long for London — he is heading to Jakarta on Saturday for a “Romantic Valentine Concert”, the blurb of which explains “a flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and we cannot live without love”. If you forgot to get a Valentine’s Day card, now’s your chance to make amends. Fashion designer Alice Temperley also made the awards ceremony as did broadcaster and the BBC’s director of creative diversity, June Sarpong. Meanwhile, at the Dominion Theatre off Tottenham Court Road there was a gala performance of new musical The Prince of Egypt. Little Mix singer Jade Thirlwall turned out for the big night, as did Brit-award winner Emeli Sandé and actor Mathew Horne.


Jess Phillips is out of the Labour leadership race, but no less sharp for it. At an event celebrating the centenary of women journalists working in Parliament last night, Phillips told the audience how important it was women were represented in the Lobby, before adding “notwithstanding it’s just important that women are represented at every level in this building — one day the Labour Party might recognise that”. How long will it take?


Caroline Nokes (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

After Phillips, Tory MP Caroline Nokes gamely told of an accidental encounter with a colleague that day. She had to strip down for a routine liver screening in Parliament: “I am utterly convinced that Steve Brine saw me in my underwear... I have to admit, ladies, that they didn’t even match.”


Outrage in Portcullis House yesterday as Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely was spotted sauntering through the atrium in a black T-shirt and brown cargo pants. A shocked staffer gulped: “On a Tuesday?”

Johnny's a hero... just for one demo

Johnny Flynn (WireImage)

Johnny Flynn, the Emma star who will soon be appearing in the lead role in Stardust, the David Bowie biopic, knows how to tease an audience. Though the film has none of Bowie’s original music — which the producers said they “never wanted” anyway — there are some songs. Flynn says viewers will be treated to a tune of his own creation. “The song I wrote gets sung at this very depressing gig when he’s playing to vacuum salesmen who aren’t listening,” he tells Vulture. “It should sound like a crap demo from that period that gets discarded.” Tantalising.

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