One BBC face is paid more than a symphony orchestra

One BBC face is paid more than a symphony orchestra


norman lebrecht

July 24, 2017

The Scottish critic Ken Walton has an interesting letter in the Times. He points out that players in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are paid an average £30,000 a year, a total wage bill of £2.1 million.

That is slightly less than the fee paid each year to one entertainment host, Chris Evans, who earns £2.2m.

Value for money, BBC?




  • Mike Schachter says:

    How could anyone grudge the money for someone of Mr Evans’ incomparable and unique talent?

  • Ellingtonia says:

    So Mr Schachter, if your employer comes along and offers to triple your salary you would decline own the grounds that you might be earning more than some other people in the company……… me a favour. The sanctimonious breast beating is a sight to behold. Of course Evans is not worth £2.2 million but when you have an organisation (BBC) which exists because of a tax (TV licence) then those running it will see fit to spend the money without any accountability. I suspect there is a class thing here about Evans, working class lad made good, whilst dear twee upper middle class Vanessa Feltz escapes the limelight despite pulling in the best part of £400k for hosting the worst programme on BBC R2.

    • Will Duffay says:

      It’s not a tax and there is accountability. There is also a market, as the right-wing critics conveniently forget.

      But I agree completely with your last point.

      • Anon says:

        Will, to be fair, the TV Licence Fee smells like a tax, looks like a tax, quacks like a tax…
        It is collected by the state, under threat of jail if you don’t pay up, and enforced by the state. If you want to watch any form of TV broadcasting (not just the BBC), you must pay it. There is no option to have ITV but not BBC (say), it’s all or nothing.
        A charge slapped on an otherwise commercial product (e.g. ITV) is usually some form of tax – think fuel duty, extra tax on tobacco, alcohol, VED, and so on. Just because it isn’t called a “tax” in name doesn’t make is an awful lot like one.

    • Adrienne says:

      You might be desperate to bring class into the argument, but I think the most likely explanation is that he’s the most highly paid employee that we’re aware of.

      I use the word “employee” in its widest sense.

  • Anon says:

    In terms of “value for money?”:
    – there’s only one Chris Evans, so there’s scarcity value. The BBC has five symphony orchestras (two in London) and access to plenty of other non-BBC symphony orchestras, all playing much the same thing in much the same way, from the perspective of the general public.
    – how many listeners does Chris Evans entertain for how many hours per year; how many the BBCSSO? I’ll bet Evans is more hours for more people by some margin, and on that basis, arguably better value for money

    • Lennie B. says:

      The BBCSO happens to be a fine orchestra with inspirational programming and exceptional conductors. Just listen to the exceptional performances they have given under Runnicles or Volkov to appreciate they are on a par with more “lucrative” London based ensemble.

    • Adrienne says:

      How much training has he received? How many hours does he spend pratising?

      Are his skills so valuable and transferable that there are several other countries that he could work in? Do they even know who he is?

      If he was replaced, how many people would be seriously concerned?

      What will his legacy be – recordings, DVD boxed sets, books, poems, jokes, thoughts, anything?

      • Anon says:

        @Adrienne – inconsequential. It’s value to the viewer or listener that’s of interest, if the viewer or listener is paying for it.

        • Adrienne says:

          A “value” that appears to have very little appeal elsewhere, so how is it assessed exactly?

          He does nothing that probably thousands of other people could do, for substantially less than £2m. The BBC shores up the reputations of these people with endless advertising and promotion, again paid for out of the BBC Tax. It’s incestuous.

    • Allen says:

      As BBC programmes are not, as a matter of routine, offered for sale in the way that commercially produced programmes are, how do you decide that £2.2 million should go to X, but substantially less should go to Y? It all comes out of the same pot unless, for example, Radio 2 is sold to the US, which I doubt.

      What is the point of public sector broadcasting if viewing figures are the sole criterion?

  • Minacciosa says:

    Chris who?

  • Anon says:

    Does anyone know what an Eric Morecambe, say, would have been paid?