Ever since BBC director general Greg Dyke promised to streamline operations, structural changes have come down the pipe at a steady pace. The casualties of these changes – both voluntary and involuntary – have continued to climb. Now, Jeremy Gibson, controller of documentaries and investigations and a 30-year veteran of the BBC, joins their ranks. His exit is due to the merger of Gibson’s division with Leisure and Factual Entertainment, helmed by controller Anne Morrison – a move that has been anticipated for some time. Says Gibson, ‘They decided that to better match the commissioning system at this stage, it would be best to have two large groups – one that’s called Specialist Factual and one that’s called General Factual.’ The merger is planned for the fall, when Gibson’s and Morrison’s groups will become General Factual.
Gibson’s resignation was prompted by family considerations and his reluctance to take-on what promises to be a much larger job. Says Gibson, ‘I’m perfectly understanding of my position and I will be leaving the BBC. It’s not anything that I worry about – I’ve been here 30 years, and I think there’s probably a life outside.’ He refutes reports that his exit was spurred by problems between himself and Morrison: ‘Anything about tensions and refusing to work under Anne Morrison and all sorts of other rubbish I’ve seen printed is blatantly untrue.’ At present, Gibson is unsure of his future plans, or whether he will even stay in the field of documentaries. ‘It’s unbelievable to many people that I envisage leaving the BBC and not fixing myself up with something absolute to go to immediately, but I’m quite looking forward to savoring the business of having some time to think. I have the notion that I shall do a number of things in life that I’ve never had the chance to do before.’
In addition to his duties with the BBC, Gibson is the chair of this year’s Edinburgh International Television Festival, which takes place at the end of August.