" Fascinating. The book is a master class in the politics of management and organisational behaviour." -- Financial Times, July 3, 2003
"An absorbing read, rich in anecdotes...and waspish asides about the people who made and starred in (the programmes). -- The Guardian, July 5, 2003
"Glorious and rude anecdotes ...and an overview of the corporations attitudes towards sex, religion and freedom of speech." -- The Observer. July 7, 2003
"Judicious, funny, acute, occasionally waspish." -- Television, June 2003
From the Inside Flap
Too often, books by people who have run great institutions give us what has been described as the dignified version of their history, frequently leavened with a generous measure of self-regard on the authors part. Will Wyatts account of his thirty-five years at the BBC could not be more different. Whether he is describing an early attempt to blow the whistle to Private Eye Our garbled account of the likely immolation of radio news made Richard Ingrams eyes glaze over or pitching the idea of a royal documentary to the Queen in his capacity as royal liaison officer - a kind of White City Herald Extraordinary he is always alert to the comedy inherent in the Corporations affairs. Which is not to say that he does not take those affairs seriously: on the contrary, when writing of the BBCs efforts to defend its independence and public service values, and when making the case for the reforms that he and others implemented under John Birts leadership, he does so with persuasive passion and conviction.
Beginning his television career in Presentation Programmes, where he produced Late Night Line Up, Wyatt became, in succession, Head of Documentary Features, Assistant and then Managing Director of Network Television, before retiring as Chief Executive, Broadcast and deputy to the Director General. His book is a first-hand account of the passions and pains, the triumphs and the cock-ups that are inseparable from the process of commissioning and making programmes and of the political battles that engulfed the BBC over, for example, the Real Lives affair. When we get to the 1990s, the struggles at the top and the fears on the ground as Britains greatest cultural institution struggled to modernize itself are seen through the eyes of one of the principal players, and, by way of a prologue, there is a frank and detailed description of his efforts to prevent the appointment of Greg Dyke as Director General.
But, above all, The Fun Factory is true to its title, for Wyatt succeeds brilliantly in convincing us that, for all the crises and all the heartache, it was fun. The anecdotes, of negotiating the rights to major sporting events with Sam Chisholm of Sky TV Were brainstorming. Youve got the brain. Ill do the fucking storming - or discussing Janet Street-Porters career prospects [she] came to tell me, in case I didnt know, "Im ambitious, Will" - are sharp and witty and the portraits of personalities, many of them familiar from our television screens, are perceptive and revealing. This is a vivid picture of one of our most important institutions during a period when it underwent unprecedented change; those who like and admire the BBC will find it both engaging and reassuring, those who question its status or its integrity will find them vigorously defended.