Three senior BBC execs miss out on new board as Paralympian appointed

Jasper Jackson
Tanni Grey-Thompson, who won 16 medals across five Paralympic Games, joins new board that is replacing the BBC Trust. Photograph: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Three senior BBC figures each tipped to replace Tony Hall as director general have missed out on places on its new board, as the former Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson was named among eight executive and non-executive directors appointed by the corporation.

The BBC’s director of strategy, James Purnell, the head of news, James Harding, and the head of content, Charlotte Moore, were not named as executive directors. All three are on the corporation’s existing executive board, but the incoming chair of the newly established board, Sir David Clementi, said “succession planning” played no part in the appointments.

The three places open to the BBC’s leadership team instead went to the deputy director general, Anne Bulford, also seen as a possible successor to Hall; the nations and regions boss, Ken MacQuarrie; and Tim Davie, the chief executive of the commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

The BBC announced five non-executive directors from outside the corporation. Joining Lady Grey-Thompson is the Arts Council chair, Sir Nicholas Serota; Simon Burke, a retail and consumer executive; the tech entrepreneur Tony Ilube; and Ian Hargreaves, an academic and journalist who has edited the Independent and New Statesman as well as running news and current affairs at the BBC.

Serota and Burke sit on the current BBC executive board, while Grey-Thompson – who won 16 medals across five Paralympic Games – is on Hall’s diversity action group. She has previously said the BBC might have to spend as much as £100m to improve diversity and that executives that stood in the way should be fired.

The BBC said all five non-execs were chosen through an open application and interview process, and would each be paid £33,000 a year.

The new board will replace the BBC Trust next month, and will operate along the same lines as the board of a commercial company, with responsibility for overseeing operations and setting strategy. Regulatory responsibilities will pass to Ofcom, of which Hargreaves was a founding member.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had already announced Steve Morrison, a co-founder of production company All3Media, would be the board member representing Scotland, and Dr Ashley Steel, a former vice-chairman of the auditors KPMG, would represent England. Board members for Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be announced.

Clementi, a former banker with no broadcasting experience, was announced as chair of the new board in January. His appointment raised eyebrows because less than a year earlier he had authored a report recommending the BBC Trust be scrapped and replaced with the unitary board he now chairs.

He said: “I’m delighted to have been able to put together such a talented board with a broad range of skills and experience who will be able to ensure the BBC remains a first-class broadcaster.”

“The board will push the BBC to offer the highest quality, hold its executives to account on delivery, while protecting its independence to ensure licence fee payers get the very best programmes and services.”

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