Richard Maun – A Useful Quote From Lord Reith

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A Useful Quote From Lord Reith

22 November 2015

I’ve been enjoying David Attenborough’s autobiography on Audible, called Life on Air. Quite a treat to be driving along with Sir David chatting to me about his life. He is very modest and tells his stories with much wit and charm.

One story really caught my attention.

He recalled how one Christmas he had decided, as the new Controller, to make the festive schedule broader in its output, to reach a wider audience. Previously it been heavy on classical programmes and opera and he felt just having that content on its own disenfranchised a large part of the audience. So he changed it. Sitting reading the Times on his train home he read a fierce review of his schedule, which concluded by the reviewer urging him to quit his job of Controller and head back into the jungle.

Attenborough says he was upset by this and worried if he had gone too far with his changes. He turned to Lord Reith’s biography and on the first page read this quotation:

‘It is Royal to do the right thing and to suffer abuse for it.’

Lord Reith was the architect of the BBC and his founding purpose for the BBC to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ survives to this day. 

Attenborough says how the quotation lifted his spirits. He had taken the right decision. His schedule was a great success and laid down the blueprint for many years afterwards.

The quotation speaks to me too. If we are in business we have to make difficult decisions sometimes and suffer abuse for it. That doesn’t make our decisions wrong though. We can be Royal too. It’s part of business life and a good sentiment to buoy us along if we have any doubts.

It is Royal to do the right thing and to suffer abuse for it. Very true.

Next week: Happy Hat Wearing


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