Thursday, 27 April 2017

Me, My Old Man and the BBC

Today, I attended my first ever BBC Board meeting as a non executive Director.

The BBC is, know...the BBC so it is a huge honour to be appointed as a Director but for me it comes with a very personal story. It's a story that I told the interview panel during the very formal selection process (in fact it was the first time I have found myself being properly interviewed across a table by a fearsome panel in about 20 years. I'm still recovering!).

To tell you this story, I need to go back a few years.

In 1957, my father travelled from West Africa to Harrogate, North Yorkshire to be trained as an electrical engineer by the British Army. Think about that. One day you are a young soldier marching up and down under the scorching sun in pre-independence Nigeria and the next day you are yomping across the Yorkshire Moors in winter!

Well, the boy Ilube survived and in fact thrived. He was a smart lad. So smart in fact that by the early 1960's he was recruited by the BBC to be trained as a TV engineer. That in itself is pretty amazing - a young black lad being offered a proper professional job at the BBC back in the early 60's. Well done, Beeb.

Nathaniel (for that was his name) was forever grateful for this opportunity and hoovered up every bit of information he could. For the rest of his long career in the TV industry, spanning Uganda and Nigeria and setting up several TV and radio stations, he would often declare to long suffering staff and colleagues "That's not how we used to do things at the BBC!"

Of course, it wasn't all rosy for young Ilube. It was the 60's after all. Dad worked behind the scenes on some of the most popular programmes of the day, including the infamous Black and White Minstrel Show at a time when it was getting audiences of over 20 million! Oh, those crazy Minstrels. They liked a laugh "Hey, Nat, old chap, what do you think of my make up hahaha?"

The old man did have lots of friends at the BBC too though. He was a keen hockey player and played in the BBC team (see if you can pick him out in the photo above. I'll give you a clue...). As a young boy I remember being taken to the former BBC sports ground Motspur Park to watch him play hockey. I remember standing next to the goal in front of the club house watching the huge men rushing around slashing at the ball with their hockey sticks. I remember the ball flying straight at my forehead. I don't remember anything after that. They would probably have safety nets up nowadays - huh, health and safety gone mad I say.

My father left the BBC over 50 years ago in the mid 60's. But the BBC never left him. It was the time of his career that he was most proud of and rightly so.

As I sat in the BBC Board today I could only imagine how proud he would have been if he knew where I was. Sadly he passed away a few years ago. But I think he's probably pleased anyway.


Tim Campbell said...

Beautiful! The circle of life, eh? You've done your Father and yourself proud Tom. A momentous day of many that you have created. Continued success. Best wishes, The Campbells

Jenni said...

Oh Tom, you do it to me every time. Misty eyes and warm heart. Thank you for such a beautiful story. And yes, I'm convinced he's really rather pleased.

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