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Former Tameside MP becomes radio ruler.
Saturday 1st October 2016 @ 16:16 by Nigel P.
Entertainment Features Hyde News Stalybridge
Former Stalybrifge and Hyde MP james Purnell now a high flyer at the BBC

Former Stalybridge and Hyde MP James Purnell, now a high flyer at the BBC


Former Stalybridge and Hyde MP James Purnell, will become the BBC’s Radio Tsar, adding to his list of responsibilities as Director of Strategy at the broadcasting corporation.

Purnell, replaces Helen Boaden who retires after 34 years at the BBC.

Director General, Tony Hall announced that Purnell’s role will now encompass radio, arts, music, learning and Children’s as he becomes Director of Radio & Education.

Purnell 46, who was once a challenger to Gordon Brown’s leadership said: “I’m delighted to have been asked to lead the new division, Radio and Education, bringing together Arts, Music and Network Radio with Children’s and Learning.

“We’re the best public service broadcaster in the world in all these areas. They’re unique, but face common challenges – from reaching younger audiences to workings in partnership.”

Purnell will remain on his existing salary of just under £300 thousand pounds a year.

Director General of the BBC Tony Hall said: “ Bringing together the divisions would enable it to deliver “further savings, to focus on content.”

A director of radio will be recruited, to work within his team.

Lord  Hall continued :“I’ve talked a lot about a BBC that’s more digital, more open and more global than ever. With the Charter now all but done, I need the right top team in place, with the right responsibilities, to deliver just that,”.

Purnell was elected to his parliamentary seat in 2001, rising from the back benches to become Culture Secretary and then promoted to Minister of Work and Pensions in 2008.

However Purnell along with others within the Labour Party was known to have objections to the then Prime Minister Brown’s autocratic leadership style.  

Encouraged by the Mandelson wing of the party, Purnell challenged Brown to step down for the sake of the Labour Party.

When the challenge to Brown failed he resigned his ministerial post in 2009 and then stepped down from politics and his seat in 2010.

This paved the way for Longdendale Councillor Johnathan Reynolds who worked for James Purnell in his constituency office, to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate.

Reynolds has held the seat for Labour since the 2010 General Election.

Lord Hall is clearly looking to Purnell to drive Radio forward into the 21st century, not just in entertainment and education within the UK, but as a projection of British culture and soft power through departments like the World Service.

He said:“I want real ambition: a powerhouse for radio – and our education mission around the world. I know we’ve got the people, programmes and ideas to do just that.”