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Imagine… the BBC without Alan Yentob

4 December 2015

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.

Rakewell’s thoughts go out to Alan ‘Botney’ Yentob, who yesterday resigned from his post as the Creative Director of the BBC after coming under scrutiny over his role as Chairman of the Kids Company charity. Having previously refused to leave his £183,000 job in the wake of the controversy, it now looks as though he has taken his final descent in the infamous ‘Yentob lift’ at the Beeb’s Portland Place HQ.

Yentob may be gone, but he is not (alas?) forgotten. Indeed, Beeb colleagues have not hesitated to dole out Twitter tributes to the outgoing maven. TV presenter Richard Osman recalled: ‘(Yentob) once walked into a TV green room I was in, looked around, then said ‘if you see Jay-Z, tell him Alan was looking for him’.

Feeling a Yentob-shaped hole in his life, the Rake decided to tune into the latest instalment of the great man’s Imagine arts documentary series (which, incidentally, he will continue to present), an episode dedicated to architect David Chipperfield that in no way resembles an opportunity for Yentob to showcase his new trainers and lofty connections.

Having heard rumours that Al and Dave had singularly failed to hit it off during filming, Rakewell was held in Hitchcockian suspense for the duration as the pair cringed their way around London, Berlin and Galicia for what turned out to be a rather uncomfortable hour of TV. Despite the prodution team’s best efforts create the impression of informality – at one point the pair are filmed clad in shorts at a Spanish beach bar, bottles of Estrella beer to hand – Chipperfield looks rather less than comfortable throughout.

The highlight comes about half way through the programme, when Chipperfield, Yentob and film director Wim Wenders take a shuffle through Berlin’s Mitte district in near identical black suits. The effect is Reservoir Dogs meets Last of the Summer Wine, albeit rather less interesting than that sounds. Yentob appears to forget who the ostensible subject of his programme is and spends almost the entire sequence talking to the affable Wenders. And then it starts to rain.

‘We should have picked a nicer day,’ Wenders says.

‘Yeah. That was Alan’s fault’, comes Chipperfield’s less than enthusiastic reply.

Pathetic fallacy? The Rake could not possibly say.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets