Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 06/03/2001Another late night assignation with Radio 5 and the Financial World Tonight. The theme: will consumers get a good deal from the panic in the PC market?

Tuesday
06/03/2001 Another late night assignation with Radio 5 and the Financial World Tonight. The theme: will consumers get a good deal from the panic in the PC market? Yep. I also make a heartfelt plea for someone to keep buying new computers at top price to protect the valuable species known as computerus journalissimus journalissimus, but everyone in the studio just laughs. This is my first visit to the BBC Television Centre since the Real IRA attack at the weekend. The damage is shocking -- they're slowly opening up bits of the foyer as the forensics gets done, but as I left at nearly midnight the main bit was still clearly to remain closed for some time. It's complete chaos outside as everyone has to decant through the car park: the Beeb's car system is wing and a prayer at the best of times, and now it's more like a trading floor. Drivers run around with bits of paper held aloft shouting the names of their passengers, while staff and guests run around shouting their own names. All in the pouring rain. Fun. But I have to say: having seen the extent of the damage, and spoken to some of the staff, I am enormously impressed by the way the BBC coped with the attack. It's clear that some very well thought-out and practised plans were put into operation with no delay, that they worked, and that they're still working. For an organisation that's frequently frustrating to deal with from both inside and out, that seems to oscillate between bureaucratic waste and demoralising under-resourcing, and that is seemingly untouched by the all-purifying fire of Commercial Awareness, it has done itself proud over this one. And the sad thing is: it's one of those plans whose most overwhelmingly impressive trick is to be largely invisible. I still can't believe that all the networks kept going, not just at the instant of the attack but thereafter -- and that no equipment was damaged, nobody was hurt and TVC remained very functional when everyone was allowed back in. Trebles all round!