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Sunday, 16 January, 2000, 15:37 GMT
Boyle steps down at Radio 4

Boyle: I've done what I set out to do

Radio 4 controller James Boyle is to retire, it has been announced.

The 53-year-old executive, who caused uproar among many stalwart Radio 4 listeners when he reorganised its schedule in 1998, is to leave his 100,000 a year job, after 25 years at the BBC.

The shake-up included moving favourites such as The Archers and Woman's Hour to different time slots, and axing several programmes.

Controversial shake-up

Politicians also criticised his decision to switch Yesterday in Parliament to long wave, and shorten the news and current affairs programme The World at One.

The changes initially caused ratings to plummet to well below the crucial eight million mark.

But there was a sharp upturn last year when it was revealed that more than nine million listeners tuned in every week, for 90 minutes more than they used to.

Boyle said at the time: "The listener sulk has gone. Radio 4 is settling down extraordinarily well now."

A BBC spokeswoman denied reports that Mr Boyle was quitting after a bust-up with other executives.

"There has been no personality clash. He is leaving because he has achieved everything he set out to do at Radio 4. The new schedule has increased ratings and improved the station."

Boyle, who was accused of dumbing down Radio 4, attended a comprehensive school in Glasgow before gaining a first class degree in English at the University of Strathclyde, and then completing an MA on Charles Dickens.

After working as a lecturer, he joined BBC education before becoming head of BBC Radio Scotland in 1993.

'Bold and brave'

He has been tipped to take over as head of the British Library when the current chief executive Brian Lang steps down in May.

Mr Boyle, who took over at Radio 4 in 1996, said: "Radio 4 is now enjoying great success which will sustain it into the future.

"When I became controller, I said that I had a clear idea of what had to be done and that I would complete that task and go. I have done what I set out to do and now leave one of the greatest jobs in British life."

BBC Director general Sir John Birt said Mr Boyle had been a "bold, brave and enormously successful" controller and added: "We are very grateful for everything he has done."

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25 Jun 99 |  BBC after Birt
Greg Dyke is new BBC boss

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