Eddie Mair: What I will and won’t miss about the BBC

After leaving Radio 4's PM, the broadcaster looks back at his time at the Corporation

Eddie Mair (mag shoot, EH)

I find myself in a strange limbo land. My time working on PM and iPM on Radio 4 is disappearing in the rear-view mirror. On the horizon, LBC is looming. But for now I have a week to relax, reflect and repaint the bathroom.

Advertisement

Next week I will tell you all about my final days on PM. Who said what. Who cried buckets. And who swore blind that if I ever darkened the BBC’s doors again he would resign as director-general and go to live in Sweden as a moose. But for now I’d like to share with you something my agent could never achieve – a reflection.

During this Gap Week I’ve had a lot of time to think, and not just about the difference between gloss and matt paint. After 31 years at the BBC I knew there would be things I would miss and things I’d be glad to see the back of. There are more things I love about the BBC than there are presenters on Today, but let’s start with the negative.

Things I won’t miss about the BBC

1. The new open-plan Broadcasting House.

Open-plan offices should remain as plans. There’s the racket, the lack of privacy and the lingering smell of everything that has ever smelled in there because it doesn’t benefit from a single open window. There are undiscovered deceased hoarders decomposing on top of mildewed newspapers in shacks in Montana who smell better than our office. Why the BH mice don’t die of asphyxiation I have no idea.

2. The back stairs of Broadcasting House.

Until the recent construction of small privacy booths, the worship of the truly open-plan office meant that the back stairs were the only reliable place to risk a private conversation. The downside was they were bitterly cold in the winter and echoed a lot – any ghastly ground-floor gossip above a whisper would become ghostly gossip round the eighth floor.

3. Group emails from management.

I am a typical BBC hypocrite when it comes to this. Surveys of staff always find people whining that they don’t know enough from bosses about what’s going on. I agree with that. But whenever a chirpy email arrives from the higher echelons announcing just the sort of thing we complain we’re not told about, I whine that I’m sick of being bothered by their constant emails.

4. The third floor fridge.

I don’t want to go into details, thank you.

5. A certain executive’s emails…

The executive whose emails are so witless, badly written and contradictory that for years I’ve had them diverted straight to my junk mail so I never have to read them.

Things I will miss about the BBC

Pretty much everything else. Brilliant, inspiring colleagues. The listeners. The chair I managed to master in the last six months so it tilts back to just the right angle. And the coffee machine next to the third-floor fridge that is out of order more often than it works.

Advertisement

Did I mention the brilliant, inspiring colleagues and the listeners?