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Greg Dyke: Inside Story Hardcover – 13 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Ill edition (13 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007192339
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007192335
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Greg Dyke is the former Director-General of the BBC who was forced to leave his post following a battle with the government over reporter Andrew Gilligan’s claim that the government had knowingly ‘sexed up’ the intelligence relating to Iraq’s military capabilities. Inside Story makes no attempt at live and let live, which is a bonus for readers. It was no secret that Dyke felt he had been unjustly treated. He himself opens the book by saying that he has always found autobiographies ‘ridiculously self-serving’ and not to be taken too seriously. So why would anyone be interested on more words spent on the ‘Gilligan affair’ and why should we be interested in his life? The answer to each of these questions is that, firstly, the real story about the Gilligan affair, the role of Alistair Campbell, the BBC governors, John Scarlett, the Hutton enquiry and Tony Blair is in the fine details. Second, if you are at all interested in television then Dyke’s story is a fascinating one. Before becoming Director-General of the BBC in 2000 he was Editor-in-Chief at TV-am, Director of Programmes at TVS and LWT, the Director of Channel Four Television and Chairman and Chief Executive of Pearson Television. Discovering how the world of broadcasting works, how it has changed and developed over the years, seeing how and why television shows succeed or fail and hearing of the personalities, friendships, rivalries and political in-fighting from someone who sat at the top of the tree is informative and highly entertaining in itself.

Dyke devotes a whole chapter to a painstaking and ultimately damning analysis of the Hutton Report, particularly Hutton’s ruling that it was not part of his remit to consider to what sort of weapons of mass destruction the Government’s dossier on Iraq actually referred. The BBC itself, or at least the governors, are named and shamed for their cowardice in the face of political bullying and, in the short concluding chapter, Dyke persuasively argues that the structure of the BBC should be reformed and the governors disbanded on the grounds that they are, literally, a group of amateurs who belong to a bygone age. Finally, and most importantly, Dyke forces the reader to accept a stark choice: either Tony Blair knew that Iraq was incapable of threatening Britain with weapons of mass destruction (which means he lied about the ’45 minutes from destruction’ claim) or he didn’t (which means he is incompetent). What makes the final chapters compelling is that Dyke tells a plausible story about how the government, how Tony Blair, got away with misleading the country. There’s no conspiracy theory here, just a story about a slightly careless reporting, a pressured head of intelligence, a powerful spin-doctor, an amateurish Lord who allegedly made an inexplicable mistake and a group of cowardly BBC governors. On the whole, between the television and the politics, Inside Story makes for a fascinating and revelatory read. --Larry Brown,/i>

Review

"carefully researched and deadly in its aim...formidable" -- The Guardian

"very readable....the book has entertaining anecdotes and lots of jokes" -- Daily Mail

'The book demonstrates the energy, passion, intelligence and commitment that made Dyke an exceptional director general.' -- New Statesman

'a breezy read' -- The Independent

'a pacy romp....Dyke's book is far greater than the episode about the BBC and Iraq...should be required reading' -- The Observer

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Greg Dyke took over from John Birt as Director-General (DG) of the BBC in 2000, I was working for BBC Magazines in`BBC Worldwide Ltd', the commercial arm of the BBC. We were at arm's length from the BBC itself, and tiny in comparison to the organisation as a whole, but we were part of the same family. We could sense the excitement of producers and programme makers, of broadcasters and administrators caused by Dyke's arrival We got the same `all desks' emails from Dyke himself: direct, sensible, motivational. We saw the same internal brodcasts of interviews and events. Dyke was impressive and inspirational.

Dyke's predecessor, John Birt, had, rightly or wrongly, not been widely liked at the BBC (to put it mildly). He wanted a successor from within the BBC who understood his thinking and would carry on his good work. He had written a twenty-year plan for the BBC and insisted on a ludicrously long five-month handover for the new DG. He was not happy when Dyke, the outsider from commercial television, got the job. Dyke wasn't very interested in Birt's 20-year plan: "In my experience, the only thing you can be certain about when dealing with long-term plans is that they will turn out to be wrong: there are too many variables for them ever to be right." This common-sense approach is very Dyke. Dyke is also right that the last thing that an organisation needs is another leader just like the old one: change in leadership style is essential, and healthy.

If Birt's vision was to create 'the best managed public sector organisation in the world', Dyke's vision was to build 'The most creative organisation in the world.' Dyke reduced administration costs across the BBC and channelled these savings into programme-making.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Longden on 25 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
I had previously not had much to go on when it came to judging Greg dyke. My impressions were of a lefty mouthy television man made good, and that was about it. This auto-biography shows him to be much more, and is a well written account of a number of moments in recent popular history about which he offers some intriguing insight.

The key chapters are about the Hutton report and his downfall, TVAM and Murdoch's ruthless rise to pre-eminence in sport. Inevitably, given that Dyke lost his job as DG of the BBC as a result, the Hutton report and his justification of the role that the BBC played in the whole scenario takes up a disproportionate amount of the book and is passionate defence of his role and that of the BBC. At times he overstates his case, but that is only because of the plethora of material which he can draw upon.

The TVAM story is fascinating, breezily told, interesting and insightful. The hand to mouth existence is remarkable and I suspect is probably his finest hour. It combines skill, judgement, good management and luck in an invigorating cocktail of intrigue an anecdote.

His combination of experience as a Man United Director, TV Sport man , and businessman makes his insight into Sky's rise and ITV and the BBC's fall in sporting coverage particularly interesting. Refreshingly, what comes across was that there was a man in charge of sport who actually loved sport.

Some themes run throughout. His enmity with Alistair Campbell and Rupert Murdoch is undisguised as is his disillusion with the Blair Administration, although his criticism of Blair itself is somewhat tempered most of the time.

However, anyone interested in the three main aforementioned topics will enjoy reading good accounts, well told.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Hillmann on 14 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Greg Dyke's account of his rise to Director General of the BBC from a working class East London family via journalism and commercial TV. He rose to power and wealth through TVam and London Weekend Television and made his fortune building up the Pearson Group into one of the biggest independent production companies in the world.
According to his account (and believable), he turned round the morale and fortunes of the BBC following John Birt's efficiency drives by concentrating on programming and on the organisation and decision making powers of people throughout the organisation. He ran a Making it Happen campaign to move away from historically imbedded bureaucratic ethos within the BBC and empowered people. He seized the opportunities of the digital future and brought the BBC to the vanguard of digital broadcasting. He regarded Murdoch as too powerful and a threat to power structures within Britain.

But his downfall was brought about by his defence of freedom of the press (as he saw it) as threatened by Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair over the issue of Andrew Gilligan's reporting of the lack of substantial intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction to justify Britain's active support of the USA in the invasion of Iraq. He completely condemns the Hutton report into this issue as a whitewash and a submission to the institutional interests. He clearly is deeply hurt by what he regards and his unjust sacking from the BBC.

Plausible and readable.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mistersnappy on 14 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
As one of Gregs ex 25,000 staff you can understand that there is not a lot of time to get any reading done. However this is a gripping, fascinating and at times surprising book and I was quite able to read it in 5 minute chunks while resting in the smallest room. Although Greg worries about becoming a 'Hutton Bore' this definitely lays his '45 minute' demons to rest and clarifies all the points it is so difficult to make in interviews and the soundbites that his nemesis Mr Campbell so loves. A great DG, an inspiring manager and a story that will inspire you to strive for the best you can do. READ IT!
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