Conductor blasts BBC over choir

By Mark Hookham



dmg media (UK)


AN internationally renowned conductor chosen to take part in the King’s Coronation has blasted the BBC’s decision to scrap its professional choir as a ‘scandal’. Sir John Eliot Gardiner said the Corporation’s bosses ‘don’t give a flying fig’ about British classical music after deciding to axe the BBC Singers, Britain’s only professional choir. They are to be replaced with more ‘agile’ ensembles to attract musicians across the country, a decision which Sir John labelled as ‘baloney’. Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘Even though these bigwigs at the BBC made these decisions without consultation, you would at least hope that they might have listened to what professional classical musicians really think about these cuts.’ GARY Lineker is a ‘monster of the BBC’s own creation’ who scares his bosses, veteran presenter John Humphrys said yesterday. The former Radio 4 Today programme host, 79, branded Lineker’s tweet comparing the language over the government’s small boats crisis to that of 1930s Nazi Germany as ‘morally repugnant’. But Humphrys also criticised the way Director General Tim Davie handled the ‘grotesque spat’. Highlighting how public confidence was falling in the BBC’s leadership, he said: ‘That’s partly because it’s become obvious that the Corporation has never got its head around how to deal with monsters of its own creation. ‘Harsh on Lineker to call him a monster? Of course. But isn’t that how we view those we are most scared of? And BBC bosses are clearly scared of him.’ He hit out as Lineker returned to Match of the Day after being suspended for his tweet, sparking a mass boycott from sports presenters and pundits last weekend. Humphrys said in a newspaper article that before the controversy, the BBC had ‘blurred the distinction’ between the strict impartiality it imposes on its news staff and ‘the thoughts of a former England footballer who advertises crisps’. He added ‘it was an accident waiting to happen’ and Davie made a ‘crucial error’ in suspending Lineker, which he said left the BBC chief with ‘no room to manoeuvre’. ‘If he hadn’t gone for the nuclear option of taking Lineker off the air, he wouldn’t be in such a mess now. ‘He could, have simply said: “We are an accountable organisation, we have a complaints procedure, I will ask the executive complaints unit to look at it and report back”. ‘Instead he opted to suspend him and fellow sports presenters effectively went on strike. The result is a sports presenter has, to a large extent, shown himself more powerful than the Director General.’ In a separate article, former Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman said the BBC’s ‘managerial class’ ‘made itself utterly ridiculous’ by climbing down over Lineker.