The 1980s were bleak years for the BBC, arid, sterile, uninspired. A dearth of talent was the cause, the big names from the 70s gone, lured to the commercial channels. Lord Reith took the unusual measure of starting a school, to be led by me, a BBC outsider, to hothouse the development of new talent. It would be some years before the raw young hopefuls that applied for the limited places at the school could be turned into a ratings engine, but Reith was far-sighted as ever.
My role in the renaissance of the BBC went unreported for many years. I had made confidentiality a condition of accepting the task, fearing the effect that public knowledge of my involvement might have on the value of a five-year call option for commercial TV shares that featured strongly in my portfolio at the time. As a result I gained no credit for the turn around, but there was reward enough in seeing those raw recruits refined into emerging stars: Laurie, Fry, Saunders, French, Coogan… you know all the names.
I was reminded of another of my little band of mentees this morning, when clearing some old files from the attic I saw the review below, which was one of Clarkson’s early efforts, pre-dating his time at the school. He was lucky to get in, as the assessment panel was united in the view that he was a complete duffer, but my instinct was otherwise, and I had my way. Over the frustrating years of coaching that followed, I paid a high price for my high-handedness with the panel, and more than once I wished I had accepted their recommendation. I may have some more of his old work lying around somewhere, but here’s one to be getting on with. He had some mad idea that light aircraft would become such common possessions that a television series might be made about them. I thought cars would be a safer bet.
Light Aircraft Group Test
The three light aircraft in this test are the Cessna 172, the Beechcraft Havanna, and the Piper Wasp. The Cessna is made in America. The other two are made their as well.
The Cessna has one engine at the front. The Beechcraft and the Piper have two engines each, each engine being on each side of the aircraft on the wings. All the engines use kerosene instead of petrol. The Cessna has two blades on its propeller. The Beechcraft has four on each engine, and the Piper has three on each engine.
The Cessna has four seats. The Beechcraft has eight seats and the Piper has two seats. The Piper seats are nicer than the Beechcraft seats, but the Cessna seats are the nicest.
I like the tyres on the Pier best, as the tyres on the other planes look too skinny.
The Beechcraft has the most dials, but the dials on the Piper are a much nicer colour. All three planes have quite a lot of dials though, much more than cars do.
The Beechcraft will go the farthest. It will go 1800 aero-nautical miles on one tank at a cruising attitude of 5,000 American feet. The Piper will go 1,500 miles, and the Cessna will go 1,369 miles.
It's not easy to choose between these three planes on points, but I’d say that if you want a plane with just one engine then the Cessna is probably the best choice, especially if you like nice seats. Otherwise, if you want two engines go for the Beechcraft or the Piper.