Craig Oliver - Press Gazette

Craig Oliver


Come in to read Daily Mail article attacking the BBC for not covering John Prescott's affair. This seems more than harsh, because we did a package and live on it on the Ten. It's good to see the papers have echoed our treatment of the story — "Labour's Black Wednesday".

Today we have an exclusive interview with Tony Blair. Our competitors are accusing Downing Street of giving it to the BBC for going easy on Prescott. It's nonsense, because the interview had been booked since Monday — and we didn't go easy on the story.

There's a lot of discussion of our treatment of the sentencing of John Gorman, Britain's biggest heroin dealer.

Our correspondents in Afghanistan, Kenya and Scotland revealed how ‘The Heroin Trail' works and the misery it causes in each country.

I'm new to the BBC and I'm discovering one of its great joys is its unique ability to link up resources around the world.

All minds are focused on the relaunch of BBC News'

terrestrial programmes. The new set is in place and the rehearsals are beginning, just five days before we go live.

We bring the team for a first look. The new screens are on the cutting edge — ultra-thin, with pin-sharp images. We're experimenting with newscasters standing more.

Fiona Bruce is mightily relieved when I explain that the vast image of Gordon Brown looking like he's ready to devour anyone in his path is exactly what we do not want.


The first proper rehearsals. The team members responsible are looking tired. Technical hitches mean we can't get as much done as we want. The clock is ticking.

Lord Anderson says in one of our packages that John Major had an affair while he was in Downing Street. Within moments my phone goes, alerting me that the former Prime Minister isn't happy. Minutes later there is a correction.


Spend the evening rehearsing. I am called in to play Margaret Gilmore on the set. I am wearing a hideously loud stripey shirt which provokes a discussion on what kind of clothing does and doesn't work.


An article in The Observer picks up on the John Major correction. The writer is amused that the correction added the information that Sir John had had an affair with Edwina Currie — but not while he was in Downing Street.

Everything goes smoothly. We reward ourselves by saying we don't have to come in on the Bank Holiday Monday.


Launch Day. The dream of every editor is to have strong stories that break nice and early. At least that way the team has time to prepare in a cool, calm and co-ordinated way.

Everything is going to plan, until it emerges that a man wanted in connection with the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky was considered for deportation, but couldn't be because Somalia is considered too dangerous.

The lawyer is advising me that we can't do the story because we'd be in contempt of court. My problem is that it is a strong story that will play big everywhere else — though the lawyer is, of course, technically correct.

We spend a lot of time discussing it, when we should be seeing how the new set works. We are deadlocked. I seek out the head of television news, Peter Horrocks.

He is at Anna Ford's leaving party. We end up discussing how we can do it, while those around us drink champagne.

Peter agrees with me that we should do it.

We change the lead at 9:21pm — 39 minutes before we go on air with the relaunched set. It might not sound much, but it has a huge impact on the running order and what goes where.

Huw Edwards raises an eyebrow, but agrees we have to do it. We go on air and my fingers are crossed. The director copes brilliantly, until we hit Mark Easton's big production set-piece at the wall.

He is happily up with graphics and pictures and heading towards a video inset that is not there. We are heading for a crash. With a second to go, the piece appears on the server and it is played in. Everyone looks sick at how close we came to disaster.

We leave the gallery in need of a stiff drink. Huw and the director brought order to the chaos.


The papers and every other media outlet go big on the Beshenivsky story.

The set gets great reviews…