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« Archive: interview with Forest's first director, Stephen Eyres | Main | What a rubbish day »

The BBC, Maggie and me

Well, the skip is now full (see previous post) but the garage is no less cluttered than it was before.

The problem is, there are some things I'm not allowed to throw out (toys, bicycles, a cot and a family-sized tent that will never ever be used again) and loads of stuff that I don't want to throw out (books, an antique pine wardrobe, my old vinyl records ...).

I've got copies of The Spectator going back to 1975 and this morning, under a black plastic groundsheet, I found a stack of newspapers with headlines such as 'Maggie comes out swinging' (Daily Mail, May 14, 1983), 'Thatcher resigns' (London Evening Standard, November 22, 1990), and - the day after she stood down - 'Too damn good for the lot of them' (Daily Mail, November 23, 1990).

In a box at the back of the garage I also found a copy of the Independent on Sunday dated March 4, 1990, two months after the paper was launched. The front page features the following headlines: 'Thatcher fails to calm Tory nerves', 'Commons to investigate secret payments to MPs' and 'BBC's right-wing critic failed to secure trainee's job'.

The man who started the latest BBC controversy by accusing the Today programme of bias was turned down by the corporation when he applied for a job as a trainee journalist.

Simon Clark, director of the Media Monitoring Unit ... has written several reports critical of BBC standards of balance and impartiality.

On his early ambitions to join the BBC [Clark] said: "I tried to join the scheme they have for young reporters and I completely mucked up my interview. They asked me questions like, 'What do you know about Tibetan politics during the last 20 years?' and I had to admit not a lot."

That's right, my casual, light-hearted 'confession' that I had failed to get past the first interview stage when I applied for a job as a trainee reporter with the BBC after leaving university in 1980 ended up as a lead story in a national newspaper!!

The good news is that on the front page, directly below a large picture of Margaret Thatcher is a photo of, er, me.

Throw that out? Never. I think I'll have it framed.

Reader Comments (3)

"and I completely mucked up my interview."


Just after I left school, and having decided NOT to go to University (an exercise in Creative Perversity), I secured an interview with a local provincial rag. It was the very first job application in my life, and I was to be grilled by both the Editor and Assistant Editor - both confirmed Socialists. Clearly, they would be savvy enough to detect my innate brilliance and potential without the supporting evidence of a degree. This assumption was misplaced..

The Star Chamber (as I've subsequently learned) was a doddle by comparison. Probably my biggest error was, when asked what I thought of Enoch Powell, to confess an admiration for someone who clearly put principle and national interest above career and party advantage. I was curtly informed that both I and Powell were 'wrong' - and, at 18 - I had little in the way of convincing counter-argument. Sadly, they never asked me about Tibet – that citadel of Chinese humanitarianism, and the spiritual home of Lobsang Rampa (the well-known plumber-turned-fantasy-writer).

That was the end of my brief flirtation with a-career-in-journalism.

Naturally, were I asked the same question today, I would modify my adolescent response - and admit to a TREMENDOUS admiration for Powell. Probably wouldn't make a lot of difference, though.

November 14, 2010 at 10:39 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

I had a similar experience with the BBC. I got through to the second round of interviews for the BBC local radio reporter training scheme - a much sought after training programme. I had an interview with the then News Editor at BBC Radio Cambridge (this would have been in 1985 ish). He then asked me a load of questions relating to the Royal family. I had to admit I didn't know what to ask Princess Margaret if I suddenly bumped into her - or some of the other minor royals this numb-knuckle BBC journo asked me about. Not only did I not get on the scheme - I then decided commercial radio would be far more fun. It was.

November 14, 2010 at 11:18 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

This is where I would click "like" if you had that button :>)

Thanks Simon. It made me smile

November 14, 2010 at 15:04 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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