Alan Yentob steps down as BBC creative director
3 December 2015
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Alan Yentob has resigned as the BBC’s creative director in the wake of controversy over his role as chairman of the Kids Company charity.
Mr Yentob has faced scrutiny for his role in its financial mismanagement and faced claims that he tried to influence BBC coverage of the charity’s demise.
He said the speculation was “proving a serious distraction” when the BBC was in “particularly challenging times”.
He will continue to make and present programmes including arts show Imagine.
Kids Company, run by Camila Batmanghelidjh and Mr Yentob, collapsed in August amid claims of financial mismanagement – something its former bosses deny.
Mr Yentob has been accused of trying to influence BBC journalists when he accompanied Ms Batmanghelidjh as she was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme.
In October, he told a House of Commons select committee he stood with the programme’s producers while Ms Batmanghelidjh was being interviewed by its presenters.
He denied that his presence was designed to put pressure on the producers, saying: “I just thought I was there to listen to what Camila said and this is an organisation that I’m familiar with. If it was intimidating, I regret it.”
Mr Yentob also phoned the BBC Two’s Newsnight in July as the programme prepared to broadcast a report into the charity’s government funding.
‘Not abused my position’
He said his phone call was about a request they made to interview him, which he declined, and has said he has not “abused my position at the BBC”.
But on Tuesday, BBC Trust Rona Fairhead told the Today programme the corporation’s editorial standards committee were looking into his involvement in the BBC’s coverage of the charity.
On Thursday, BBC director general Tony Hall said BBC News had concluded that he did not influence its reporting of Kids Company.
In a statement, Mr Yentob said: “The BBC is going through particularly challenging times and I have come to believe that the speculation about Kids Company and the media coverage revolving around my role is proving a serious distraction.
“So I have spoken to Tony Hall and told him that I think it best that I step down from my senior management role as creative director at the end of this year and focus on programme-making and TV production – including of course the Imagine series.
“I love the BBC and will continue to do everything I can to ensure that it thrives and fulfils the great expectations we all have of it.”
Analysis – BBC media correspondent David Sillito
Alan Yentob found himself at the centre of a media storm as revelations about its management and its ultimate collapse made headline news.
He had strong feelings about the stories – and expressed them. The BBC’s creative director ringing BBC Newsnight and attending interviews at the Today programme raised more than a few questions.
An internal inquiry concluded he had not influenced the investigations, but the questions did not end.
- Joined the BBC as a trainee in 1968.
- Has been controller of BBC One, BBC Two, director of programmes and director of television.
- Appointed creative director in 2004 to oversee the BBC’s creative strategy.
- Has edited and presented arts documentary series Imagine since 2003.
- Earned £183,300 as creative director. He receives a separate fee for Imagine.
In a statement, Lord Hall described Mr Yentob as “a towering figure in television, the arts, and a creative force for good for Britain”.
Lord Hall said: “He has served the BBC with distinction in a number of different executive roles – all of which have been characterised by his energy, creativity and commitment to public service. He has an extraordinary roll-call of achievement.
“For the record, BBC News considered whether Alan Yentob had influenced the BBC’s journalism on the reporting of Kids Company. They concluded that he did not. Despite that, I understand his reasons for stepping down as creative director.
“He has been thinking about this carefully for some time and we have discussed it privately on a number of occasions.
“I am pleased that Alan will be continuing his brilliant work as a programme maker at the BBC in the future.”
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