This is a transcript of a speech I made today at the Salford International Media Festival, part of a discussion about the future of the BBC. It includes a suggestion that the licence fee should be reduced to £10 per annum.
On 15th October 1973, wearing a crisp white shirt newly ironed by my mother, I nervously pushed open the big brass doors into Broadcasting House and signed into reception to start my career as a BBC News Trainee.
As we sat in our classroom on the second floor, our instructor greeted us with these words:
“Congratulations!” he said.
“You are the chosen ones. We expect all of you to rise through the ranks to become the next generation of BBC leaders.
“Unless,” and here he glowered at us, “unless you commit one of two heinous crimes – bounce a cheque at BBC Cashiers, or forget to pay your licence fee”.
There were six of us trainees in total, and later on in the first term our instructor made us take part in a competition – to find which of us was most likely to become Director General. The winner was Tony Hall.