Exclusive: Blow to classical music as BBC boss is downgraded

Exclusive: Blow to classical music as BBC boss is downgraded


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2022

The BBC, in a restructuring move that puts suits ahead of content, has announced yet another shakeup of the radio and music team.

The new lineup pushes Alan Davey, head of Radio 3 and BBC Proms, one rung further down the pecking order. He has to answer to a new boss, who is presently Commissioner of Pop, and will have even less access to the upper echelons.

Read this announcement any way you like: it’s a demotion for Davey and a corporate slap for classical music.

Here’s the statement:

BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore has announced a restructuring of the senior BBC Radio & Music team. Commissioner Of Pop Lorna Clarke becomes Director Of Music, while Controller of BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra Mohit Bakaya becomes Director Of Speech.

The aim of this latest reshuffle is, apparently, to retain listeners on the BBC’s conventional radio stations while also growing use of the BBC Sounds app. Controller Of BBC Sounds Jonathan Wall also gets a slight change of job title – becoming Director Of BBC Sounds – and will work alongside Clarke and Bakaya to grow audiences across BBC audio.

“Our distinctive radio stations are loved by millions and we are reaching new listeners too as we grow BBC Sounds and innovate digitally”, says Moore. “Now we want to do even more for our audiences so that when they come to us, they’ll not only find their favourite shows but also discover new audio from us, however and whenever they choose to listen”.

Achieving that, she reckons, requires the various BBC audio teams working more closely together and “putting audiences truly at the forefront of our plans, exploring every untapped opportunity that exists to create brilliant content for them, both live and on demand”.

The new structure also sees Controller of Radio 3 and BBC Proms Alan Davey move into Clarke’s team, while Controller of Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Sports Extra Heidi Dawson will join Bakaya’s team.


  • Rob Keeley says:

    So, the greyest of éminences grises, with all the flair and charisma of a Slough industrial estate, becomes just that little bit greyer.
    Ah, the BBC, the envy of the world…

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    I think I’d be embarrassed if my job title was Commissioner of Pop it sounds so silly.

  • alan says:

    a further watering down of already thin gruel – not a surprise, alas

  • Dave says:

    Well, apparently on Davey’s watch they’ve just thrown goodness how much at this thing from a consultancy firm:


    (The consultancy firm’s report – edited by the BBC, which is presumably why there’s one small reference to Brexit – is a linked PDF at the bottom.)

    I didn’t see much fanfare about it, and I’m not really surprised, as quite frankly I’d be embarrassed to publish a report so badly written/edited that the contents list isn’t reflected in the document itself, just for starters.

  • David Smith says:

    I do not like the term ‘Pop’ as it sounds degenerate and may lead to a lowering of the standards of our beloved Radio 3.

    • Colin says:

      “Commissioner Of Pop Lorna Clarke becomes Director Of Music”. Thus the term “Pop” has disappeared, and Davey reports to the head of music.

    • Maria says:

      That’s what it’s called – pop music, or pops in America! A huge industry. See Eurovision Song Contest coming up on BBC and Ukraine possibly winning it! Everyone knows what POP is and means!

      • 18mebrumaire says:

        Absolutely! And for 99 per cent of the population this is what they understand by the term ‘music’.

  • Rob says:

    The entire BBC should be axed including the proms, the licence fee and all the junk that goes along with it.

    This is the ‘BBC Board’


    They should all be given notice.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      And the truth shall set us free.

    • Dragonetti says:

      Be VERY careful what you wish for Rob.
      The BBC is less than perfect in many ways but it’s still the best we’ve got by a long way.
      Classic fm to replace R3? God help us. It has its place to be fair but it’s riddled with ads of a brainless nature and as for Einaudi, Jenkins (either) et al, well!
      BBC tv still produces some of the best programmes around too in spite of all the populist nonsense it has to show.
      Reform will certainly happen and is surely needed but if Auntie Beeb goes so does my television and radio.

  • V.Lind says:

    Look, they have promoted one of the Directors to a super-directorate. It is hardly surprising that it is the one whose listener base is probably massively greater than the other’s, and who is responsible for more stations. I have no idea why the BBC is committed so aggressively to BBC Sounds, but I appreciate it as I use it for the BBC I listen to — Radio 3, 4, and 4Extra, and occasionally 5Live for coverage of a sporting event I am interested in and that is not restricted for rights reasons to the UK listeners.

    Davey’s job is to get with the programme and fight his corner.

  • IP says:

    BBC? Commissioner of pop? Kind of Jimmy Savile, you mean?

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    That’s the second demotion of the post in recent years. Flagship broadcasting at its finest – will play well with the populist diversity movement seeking the abolition of the BBC. “Six orchestras?” “…and they have how many people in each?!” “Why that’s one per radio channel!”

    • Paul Anthony Kampen says:

      Is anybody who watches the BBC1 TV ‘Breakfast’ programme in any way surprised by this? The inane crap which they usually put forward as ‘Arts’ coverage makes you wonder why we bother spending money on education. Most of the presenters should stick to football about which they are undoubtedly well qualified to cover.

  • V.Lind says:

    This paragraph was also included in the statement but is missing here:

    *Alan Davey, Controller of Radio 3 & BBC Proms, will join Lorna’s new music team with classical music becoming a key part of a new music portfolio and a new Head of Orchestras & Choirs will also be joining the Music team.*

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for this.

      It would have been helpful, and proper journalism, had the original article included a link to the statement, not just a slash-and-paste edit of it.

  • Greg says:

    Might make the in house back slapping chums running Classical music at the BBC more accountable to mainstream management and there are good reasons for that.

  • christopher storey says:

    Having read the report ( as edited by the BBC I note ) , I was struck by the fact that apart from an early single reference to chamber music, it was completely ignored as a source of both employment and exposure to classical music. I would not go so far as to say that the report is worthless, but it comes close to it as any kind of rational survey of overall exposure to music

  • Mark(London) says:

    David Pickard is director of BBC Proms

  • Dr William A Evans says:

    Good Grief. I stopped reading after the second paragraph, having by then come across several punctuation and grammatical errors, including the lack of a comma before ‘which’ and ‘a historic’ rather than ‘an historic’. The statement is said to have been written by Rachel Jupp, whose title is given as ‘Editorial Lead, BBC Content’; quite how Ms Jupp was promoted to this senior role without having even a basic grasp of the English language is beyond understanding.

    • Dave says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume that ‘editorial lead’ means any degree of seniority; entry-level joiners at some of the big corporations have ‘vice-president’ on their business card.

  • Incredulous says:

    Someone to run televised classical music. (Suzi Klein)
    Someone to run the orchestras and choir (tba)
    Someone to run BBC music (Lorna Clarke).
    Someone to run the Proms (David Pickard).

    So what, exactly, does Davey do to earn his massive six figure salary plus perks?

    The state of it…and that this is seen as normal.

    Neither use nor ornament.

    BBC music deserves better than this.