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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 20:36 GMT
'Cut the crap, bring Greg back'
By Paula Dear
BBC News Online

Crowds at TV Centre
The crowd erupted into a frenzy when Greg Dyke arrived
It is not often you hear hundreds upon hundreds of staff affectionately chanting the name of their departing boss, or yelling at the tops of their voices "come back!"

But within hours of director general Greg Dyke's resignation on Thursday, there were unprecedented scenes of spontaneous support and raw emotion from BBC employees outside Television Centre.

Passing drivers would have been forgiven for thinking they were witnessing a mass walkout in protest against the bosses.

But on closer inspection, they could read what the placards said, and as the crowd grew and grew they honked their horns in a cacophony of support.

There's no going back - the decision is made
Greg Dyke on his resignation

"Cut the crap, bring Greg back", "We Love Greg", "Hutton Take a Hike, Bring Back Greg Dyke" screamed out hastily prepared banners. Some clutched blown-up full colour pictures of the man himself.

Jessica Powell, who works in casting, said: "He cared about the little people, that's why we came out."

'Not political'

"We have e-mailed Greg, but many people felt this was the only way they could really express the way they feel about him," explained head of interactive programming Emma Somerville.

BBC4 interactive editor Kate Bradshaw, said: "Everyone is outraged and sad. The government has successfully manipulated the BBC and damaged it in the process."

If one thing is sure about this surreal day for the BBC it's that it doesn't take long for news to spread among a staff that makes its living from communications.

Less than an hour after employees received an e-mail from Mr Dyke, there was talk of a small gathering being organised outside the building.

It's a bit like losing your uncle in a way
Roy Edmonds, CBBC online

It was not long before Greg Dyke himself heard about the growing crowd.

Up to 800 people had gathered by 4.30pm and there was talk "he" would make an appearance.

Clutching a "We Love Greg" banner, Roy Edmonds of CBBC Online, said people felt "differently" about Mr Dyke as a boss.

"It's a bit like losing your uncle in a way. It's not about being political at all. It's a way of saying we think he's the best DG we've ever had," he said.

Minutes later police attempts to keep the workers off the road suddenly fell apart when the former director general arrived by car and the crowd surged towards it.

TV Centre had witnessed such scenes of hysteria in the past but they revolved around pop stars and other celebrities.


One man stood on a bollard to see over the crowd.

"What's happening?" we all shouted.

"I can see a little bald head coming this way!" he said.

BBC staff show their support
'He cared about the little people' said PA Jessica Howell (left)

I spotted him amid a rabble of people - they were hugging him, kissing him, crying, clapping.

This was a press pack to beat all press packs. By the time Mr Dyke struggled through to the main entrance he was surrounded by BBC correspondents, reporters and TV presenters, firing questions, looking for some hope.

"It has been an emotional day and an emotional experience," he told the crowd.

"Is it too late to change your mind?" someone shouted.

"There's no going back. The decision is made," he replied.

In the tightly packed scrum I found myself leaning on Mr Dyke's shoulder to take notes. His left cheek was smeared with lipstick.

He said he had heard a lot of people had come out to support him and wanted to thank them in person.

As Mr Dyke headed upstairs, he said one of his first priorities was to "find" his son, who had been moved out of the family home when the press descended earlier this week.

"But this evening," he said, to groans of disappointment, "I will clear my desk."

Radio staff's silent protest
29 Jan 04  |  Somerset


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