If I had to start again ... Greg Dyke

The ex-BBC DG on leadership, controversy and the sweetness of revenge.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

We'd all love to have been professional footballers or concert pianists, but we have to work with the talent we've got. For me, that was about working out strategies, running things and motivating people.

I went into TV at 30, after a spell as a journalist and a stint at Wandsworth Council, and I ended up with the top job as director-general of the BBC. I'm proud that I did it without compromising my values.

If I could go back in time I'd still take the BBC job. There are things we'd all do differently, but on the major issues by and large I think I got it right. I do, however, regret the way it ended. When I was writing my autobiography, my wife said: 'Why do you never leave anywhere like anyone else?' And I suppose she's right; when I join or leave a company it's usually controversial. That must be something about me.

I don't spend enough time thinking about the way I was treated to feel aggrieved about it. That said, if the opportunity ever came for revenge against a few people I would certainly take it, and every so often it does. I was delighted to see that Tory MP Douglas Hogg is to step down after expensing the public for having his moat cleaned out. His wife, Sarah Hogg, was one of the leaders against me on the board at the BBC, so I'm pleased to see that they got their comeuppance.

When I look back, I think Hutton (author of the Hutton report) was a stooge. At the time I said there were quite a lot of gutless people around and I still feel the same way. I remember bumping into political historian Peter Hennessy and saying: 'Don't worry, Pete, history will prove me right,' and I think history has. I don't meet many people who don't believe that they sexed up that dossier and the case for war. So it's a shame it happened, because I was enjoying the job and I still felt there was more to be done - but that's life. Living through the good times is easy; it's about living through the tough times and how you react to them that's the real test.

Greg Dyke was director-general of the BBC, 2000-04

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