As it happened, in the hour before the hapless George Entwistle stepped out of Broadcasting House to announce his resignation as BBC Director General on Saturday night, Radio 4 had broadcast an edition of Archive On 4 devoted to the founding father and first DG of the BBC, Lord Reith. Thus was ninety years of BBC history neatly bookended by a giant and a pygmy.
But the giant Reith was also a full-blown megalomaniac, who created the BBC in his own megalomaniac image - and the megalomania survives in the institutional DNA of the Corporation. Having worked for a (mercifully) few years inside the BBC, I must say that I have never encountered an organisation with such delusions of grandeur, so unshakably convinced of its manifest destiny and its innate, self-evident superiority, despite all the human evidence to the contrary seated around its meeting tables (which is where most BBC staff seem to spend most of their time). Megalomaniac organisations are fine so long as they are dominated by personalities and talent, however maverick (some newspapers still fit this image), but the BBC has become over the years an organisation so dominated by structures, by faceless management, navel-gazing and endless bureaucratic procedures that it rewards mediocrity - hence the rise of Entwistle to the top - while stifling originality and creativity. And of course it continues to pat itself on the back - insisting that it is still has the public's 'trust', whatever that means - even as it falls apart. Clearly the BBC is in need of a radical shake-up; incredibly, those who appointed him thought Entwistle, the 'insider's insider', was just the man to do the job. Only the BBC could delude itself on quite such an epic scale.