Key broadcasting talent Claudia Winkleman is close to signing a deal which would keep her at the BBC. She is set to present On Your Bike but the deal is jeopardised with the revelation that an almost identical format has been developed and offered to Amanda Holden. How can the damage limitation group limit the damage?
In the wake of a potentially very expensive lawsuit against the BBC, Izzy volunteers to take the flak and is summoned to the director general’s office.
Meanwhile, the official launch of BBC Me, the new online platform for user-generated content, is nearing the final furlong, but with the disappearance of several senior executive posts, including head of values and director of better, it is not clear who will be leading the charge to the finish line.
The renewal group led by head of values Ian Fletcher has to respond to rumours that Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman is about to leave the BBC for a rival broadcaster. Is there a way of preventing this happening? When they offer a hosting job on On Your Bike, a new interview format, it looks like they might have found a solution.
Meanwhile ex-intern Will’s attempts to get a celebrity face to help launch BBC Me, the new online platform, have come back to bite him and the BBC. The celebrity in question thought they were being asked to pose for a selfie and didn’t realise they were being used to endorse a viral campaign and consequently the BBC finds itself on the receiving end of a million-pound lawsuit. Will’s job looks to be in serious danger.
With the charter renewal process requiring the BBC to show they can do more for less, head of news Neil Reid is asked to see whether his main news presenters would consider doubling up and presenting the weather forecast as well. And in a landscape where leaving parties are becoming increasingly frequent, Ben and Jerry discover that their jobs have been ‘re-imagined as non-existing going forward’.
Following on from an item on BBC Breakfast about plans to close the BBC Big Swing Band, the damage limitation team under Ian Fletcher is under huge pressure to limit the damage.
A twitter campaign led by Jools Holland, #JeSuisBigSwingb and #boycottBBC, is gathering support from music royalty such as Sir Bob Geldof, Sir Tom Jones and Bono. And as the much-loved Big Swing bandleader Ray Fredericks is both black and 75, there are a growing number of accusations of discrimination and ageism.
BBC News outlets are keen to report the latest developments but exacerbate the problem when Syncopatico, the new News subtitling software, continues to systematically misspell the names of the key players involved – including Jools Holland.
It is felt that an appearance from one of the BBC senior management team on the News at One would be a helpful way of clarifying the BBC’s position – but when head of better Anna Rampton unexpectedly rules herself out, it falls to Ian Fletcher to face the music.
Meanwhile, the campaign to launch new online platform BBC Me continues and ex-intern Will Humphries is still standing at his station in reception trying to persuade passing celebrities to record themselves saying ‘me’ into his phone.
The search for new ways of saving money at the BBC continues – particularly important in the light of charter renewal.
As head of better Anna Rampton says, ‘The fact is this is about finding more ways of doing less of what we currently do better.’
Having dismissed the idea of losing programmes about gardening as a possible solution the renewal team propose that the cutting of the BBC Big Swing Band might send out a useful message – after all, does the BBC need six orchestras?
When news gets out that this is on the agenda the BBC start to get what head of communications Tracey Pritchard calls ‘heavy incoming’. A situation exacerbated by the fact that Ray Fredericks, the much-loved Big Swing Band leader, is about to celebrate his 75th birthday with a special anniversary concert. What had started in a strategy meeting as an idea with potential has turned into a major PR disaster.
In this context the BBC head of values Ian Fletcher’s first visit to the Department of Media, Culture and also Sport – the government department responsible for negotiating the BBC Charter renewal – does not get off to the best of starts. Especially when it is revealed that the minister is a ‘keen trombonist’.
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Cross-dressing ex-Premier League footballer Ryan Chelford’s appearance on a late-night, midweek edition of Match of the Day did not go well. Host Gary Lineker and pundit Alan Shearer were literally lost for words. But the BBC in general and, in his role as head of values Ian Fletcher in particular, are under pressure to find an on-screen role for Ryan as quickly as possible. A summit meeting is arranged to include heads of football, inclusivity and a late curve ball in the shape of head of diversity to try and find a solution to a problem that is getting increasing attention on social media.
To complicate matters, Fiona Craig, the senior civil servant with responsibility for charter renewal negotiations, is visiting the BBC to see what a normal day in the life of the corporation looks like.
Meanwhile, the campaign to launch user-generated content platform BBC Me gathers pace with David Wilkes still keen to take ownership of the idea he originally borrowed from ex-intern Will Humphries.
It is the year of charter renewal and a critical time for the BBC. The renewal group under head of values Ian Fletcher is tasked with identifying what the BBC does best and finding more ways of doing less of it better.
A new challenge comes in the shape of a Channel 4 documentary about a cross-dressing ex-Premier League footballer Ryan Chelford, which alleges that the BBC rejected Ryan as a potential pundit on Match of the Day because of his unconventional private life. The fact is he was auditioned and it turned out he was not very good. In the face of a huge groundswell of public support for Ryan Chelford and the need for the BBC to appear inclusive, Ian and his team have to find a presenting role for Ryan while not forcing the hand of the BBC’s flagship sports show.
Over in the Perfect Curve PR office, things have changed. They have been bought by media giant Fun Media, who are keen to come up with new ideas for their BBC account. Siobhan Sharpe is equally keen to take credit for the result of their latest brainstorming – the idea for a new online platform called BBC Me – a new home for user-generated content. After all, according to Siobhan, conventional television is dead.
Meanwhile, newly promoted junior development producer Will Humphries’ idea for a new interview format On Your Bike is in danger of being appropriated by commissioning editor daytime factuality David Wilkes and pitched to the head of TV output as The Great British Bike Off.