The Man Who Said No to Charity

By Brown, Maggie | New Statesman (1996), February 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Man Who Said No to Charity


Brown, Maggie, New Statesman (1996)


Mark Thompson is the big beast of the BBC, in stature, in intellect and in rhino-hide toughness. And, as his decision over screening the Gaza charity appeal has shown, he seems to possess unshakeable confidence in his own judgement.

Unlike his predecessor, Greg Dyke, Thompson, 51, has never aspired to be popular at all costs, or to make people feel good. He is a leader and a loner. So his flinty refusal to allow the appeal for a blitzed Gaza on to the BBC airwaves is part of what makes him tick. It publicly highlights his willingness to strike out on a lonely path, in defence of what he believes intellectually is right: specifically, protecting the BBC's duty of impartiality across all services.

It might seem patronising, as John Humphrys observed to him, during a tense Today interview, that ordinary people are deemed unable to separate a humanitarian plea for charity from the task of reporting a bitter conflict. But the key to Thompson is his powerful focus on the long-term future of the BBC, which he joined after the Jesuit Lancashire boarding school, Stonyhurst and Merton College, Oxford.

He is an admirer of strong institutions and relishes family life in moneyed north Oxford, where he cooks, cycles and practises his Catholic faith. The son of a widowed mother, he is an interesting mix. The consensus of those who know him is that, while he seems approachable, the closer you get to him, the colder he seems. He is unlikely to have lost any sleep over the Disasters Emergency Committee decision.

As soon as he joined the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee, the able Thompson was destined for the top. Crucially, at the age of 29, he was selected as one of John Birt's young lions, relaunching the (then) Nine O'Clock News with analysis, to his boss's satisfaction.

His posts have included output editor on Newsnight, editor of Panorama and head of factual programmes; for BBC2 he backed an ambitious young chef called Jamie Oliver before heading national and regional broadcasting, an unglamorous stepping stone to running BBC television.

He would be a corporation lifer except for a stint between 2002 and 2004 when he became chief executive of Channel 4. There he adopted loud-checked shirts and stubble, forced through cuts and criticised the channel's creative record. He explored, clumsily, a solution to its woes by pursuing a merger with Five. The exile ended when Dyke resigned from the BBC following Lord Hutton's report in January 2004. Dyke told Thompson he had to come back to save the BBC. Its new chairman, Michael Grade, agreed.

So since May 2004 he has thrown himself into the defence of the licence fee and its reformed role as the cornerstone of British broadcasting. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Man Who Said No to Charity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.