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BBC to sack entire staff bar one in efficiency drive
21 Mar 2005The BBC is to sack its entire workforce apart from one person, Director General Mark Thompson announced today. Speaking to an audience of BBC staff, Mr Thompson said that it was essential that the BBC be "streamlined" to face the challenges of the future. As such, Mr Thompson said that he had undergone a rigorous process of finding the most suitable person to work as the whole of the BBC, and that person was himself.
"I was surprised as you are," he told his soon-to-be-ex-staff, "so I demanded a recount, but somehow it ended up as me again!"
Mr Thompson went on to explain that the workload would be enormous for one person, and he was therefore awarding himself a salary increase. At this point he walked into the audience and dragged three people from their seats and pushed them out of the door. "That's representative, obviously," he explained. "The actual salary increase will be much more than their wages."
"I'll also need to sleep overnight, so I'm going to hire a Dalek to cover for me – they're cheaper than people and they're not unionised. Add in a maintenance contract and that's another 48 of you gone," he said, pulling a large lever off-stage. At this point the rearmost section of seating collapsed backwards, taking with it a number of long-serving BBC staff.
Striding back to his podium, Mr Thompson produced a remote control from his jacket and pointed it at the big screen. A Eurovision-style graphic appeared, showing staff gathered around a television in the BBC's Birmingham headquarters. "Hello Birmingham, can you hear me?" he asked, receiving a mumbled response from distraught staff.
"Not for much longer!" he replied gleefully, pressing a large red button which caused the building's lights to turn off and an emergency alarm to sound. "The electric doors shut in exactly three minutes so I suggest you start running!"
As part of their redundancy packages, Mr Thompson explained, the BBC's foreign correspondents will be given a free easyJet flight home. Questioned as to how this would help reporters stationed in such places as Baghdad, Kabul and Venezuela, the Director General simply shrugged and sacked the person asking the question.
Mr Thompson went on to explain the key part of his strategic efficiency drive. "The BBC needs more money, but people say we are bloated. What we're doing is basically sacking everybody – but me, obviously – and reinvesting that money in programmes, showing that we can get by on what we have," he said. "Then we'll ask for more money, and the government will say yes. It's a winning idea."
In a final act before leaving the room, Mr Thompson outlined his new programme schedules. In order to save money, he said, all BBC output would be combined into a single channel, broadcast on television and radio. The channel – BBC Mark Thompson 24 – will start at 9am with a news briefing, read by Mr Thompson from the front of the Daily Mail. Following trailers for later programmes, a daily government press conference will be broadcast from 10am "until it finishes".
Other highlights will include a daily chat show, where Mr Thompson will talk to an invited studio audience consisting of Mr Thompson. The topical news quiz, Have I Got Mark Thompson For You, will be a key plank of evening programming, alternating with They Think It's All Mark Thompson. Walking With Mark Thompson, a docusoap following Mr Thompson around BBC premises as he tells staff that they have lost their jobs, will be shown in the summer.
Broadcasting Unions From Hell, which Mr Thompson denied was derivative, will be shown on Wednesday nights before the National Lottery draw, which Mr Thompson will conduct by pulling numbers out of a hat. The remainder of the schedule will be filled with repeats of old BBC programmes, controlled by Mr Thompson with his DVD player remote. "With the back catalogue we have, we should be able to keep going for a good few decades. Heck, most of it's better than what we put on now," he said. "Now I really must go, I've got people to sack. You're all fired, by the way."
DeadBrain contacted the BBC's press office in an attempt to clarify what seemed like a ludicrous announcement that the BBC would be able to make better programmes by sacking most of its workforce. "I...er...I'm not really sure," said a worried spokeswoman, shortly before Mr Thompson arrived and hung up.
In related news, the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has denied that he has bought a large number of shares in BSkyB.