Breaking: BBC music chief departs

Breaking: BBC music chief departs


norman lebrecht

May 05, 2021

It has been leaked today that Jan Younghusband will leave the BBC this year.

Younghusband has been head of commissioning for music TV at the BBC for 12 years, in charge of both classical and pop.

She has exerted a negativity verging on hostility towards classical documentaries, to the point where many filmmakers no longer bothered to pitch ideas to the BBC.

The BBC says it will now appoint a head of arts and classical music, as well as recruiting a new commissioning editor who will specialise in classical music programming. More jobs, less output.

Younghusband said: ‘I have decided to leave the BBC at the end of this year for a new challenge in my creative life in film-making and TV. It has been an honour and privilege to work with so many outstanding artists, producers, directors and production teams. I would like to thank them all and also my brilliant team at the BBC for their outstanding support and for the many programmes we have created together which have brought great joy to BBC audiences. The BBC is an outstanding cultural broadcaster and the most important pillar of the creative industry, and I will always champion it on the outside as I have done from the inside.’

Before joining the BBC, she was head of arts at Channel 4.




  • BBC says:

    Hurrah. Jan Younghusband was not the best. But…

    “always keep a-hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse”.

    Maybe this will turn out not to be the good news it looks like.

  • christopher storey says:

    Gosh, what a loss………

  • Herbie G says:

    Don’t hold your breath on this one. The BBC is committed to getting new bums on seats among the younger generation, which means everyone else is low priority. Whoever they choose to replace her, the BBC will be just the same. That’s what happened when Tony Hall stepped down as Director General. They don’t realise that the younger generation is more likely to go for Netflix and Amazon Prime and they certainly don’t listen to the wireless, so it’s a lost cause. Radio 3 is woke beyond belief and the figures are not in yet that indicate whether it has secured a massive new audience among the Afro-Caribbeans in return. Or is it just tokenism?
    The BBC is losing the over 50s and the younger generation too.
    I wouldn’t care tuppence if they didn’t extort a huge licence fee to fund stations that I don’t often watch when I have a choice of over 500 stations I can get for nothing through Freesat and terrestial TV.
    On 12th April I crossed the rubicon. I had a little DAB portable in the bathroom that accompanied my morning ablutions for years – normally tuned to R3s Essential Classics. I was getting increasingly fed up with the roller-coaster cavalcade of ill-matched snippets but I was a captive audience as being in a bath makes it difficult to jump out and switch off. So that morning, after enjoying some pleasant snippet, they announced that they would be playing something else by some youngster I’d never heard of, so after a few seconds of this dreary nonentity I jumped out, switched it off, went downstairs and picked up the Internet radio that I’d bought years ago just for fun and then left on the shelf. I replaced the DAB radio with the Internet one, selected ‘Classical’ and saw that there were 586 stations from all over the world! I went to WQXR New York and since then I have enjoyed complete and very varied works with minimal announcements – just like R3 used to be in the days of Rob and Sarah’s stewarding the morning EC slot.
    I am now looking into setting up a streaming station in the UK like that and I am making some progress. It’s early days yet but there must be a few people out there who are fed up with being offered junk by the BBC and having no choice over what they pump out despite being compelled to pay a huge sum for it every year. They are no longer the only broadcaster in the UK; just pimples on the backside of world radio and TV.
    I would be interested to hear what others in Europe, the USA and elsewhere are compelled to pay for their local stations. Does anyone know?

  • Maria says:

    Never heard of her and nothing worth watching on TV anyhow re classical music apart from the ENO Mozart Requiem on BBC2 in November 2020. Messiah at Easter was just carved up to 50 mins and posey, and then Covid King’s afterwards. Hey, ho. Thank God for Radio 3 and no flashing lights as a distraction!

    • Rob Keeley says:

      Meanwhile Sky Arts broadcasts a gimmick-free performance of Handel’s La Resurrezione, a welcome if unexpected choice…

      • Maria says:

        Yes, it was excellent and one oratorio I had never sung myself. Very refreshing and no gimmicks. Just happened to fall across it, and no tv distractions.