Gary Lineker versus the BBC. A case study in creative leadership

March 17, 2023

March 13 2023

The news headlines for the past week have been dominated by a dispute between the BBC superstar football broadcaster Gary Lineker and his employers. To be more precise, Gary is a contracted freelance broadcaster not a permanent member of staff. This is a detail which may have added a complication to what is already a complex case.

Other figures who became involved were the Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, the chairman of the BBC board, Richard Sharp, the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

A critical event which makes a convenient starting point is a tweet by Gary Lineker strongly condemning the language and content of the immigration bill being introduced into Parliament by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
He described the bill as immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people, and in language ‘that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s’ As was inevitable, his tweet produced a storm of discussion both for and against his tweet. His supporters broadly took the free speech argument . Opponents claimed he had himself deployed hate speech, by describing the government as operating with the methods of the Nazis.

Tim Davie announced he was speaking to Lineker formally. When he refused to apologise, the BBC suspended Gary from presenting Match Of The Day, the flagship football program of the BBC. Davie stated that this was a measured response while the issue was being further investigated.

By then the story was attracting interest in the MSM, Social Media, and particularly in the BBC itself with stories about the suspension.

Before the next episode of MOTD was broadcast, the other presenters of MOTD announced they were withdrawing from the programme. Other journalists also withheld their contributions to football broadcasts.

Eventually, a very truncated program was broadcast without commentators. The political implications sharpened when the Prime Minister gave only the coolest support to the actions of the BBC. This was interpreted as distancing himself from Tim Davie leading to speculation that Davie’s job was far from secure.

Over the weekend, the BBC filled its radio and television news programs with discussion about the developing drama, but with a few suggestions of how it might resolve itself.
The Chairman of the BBC was unavailable for comment.

During this period, the Daily Telegraph, generally a flagship Conservative newspaper was running a series of revelations leaked by Conservative journalist of highly confidential exchanges which revealed Ministers struggling to cope with the COVID crisis.

The BBC position was not helped with the reemergence of an unresolved story of the Chairman Richard Sharp involved in securing a loan for Boris Johnson at the time his application as Chairman was being considered, a process over which Johnson was the ultimate arbiter.

Recommended for the post by Boris Johnson, Richard Sharp was appointed one month after being a Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, which during his time published several reports critical of the BBC recommending root & branch change.

The appointment of Tim Davie as Director General had also been and remained controversial. He has made no secret of his concern that the impartiality of the BBC was endangered by what he say as a left wing bias in much of the programming. Critics have been quick to point to his own background as a conservative one.

Commentators of the complex situation had little to offer. Either the BBC (increasingly personified as Tim Davie) would have to concede and return Lineker to his position, or Lineker would have accept he has no right to tweet about the Govt’s immigration policy.

We have a classic dilemma of leadership. The view of overwhelming number of commentators in the news and social media is that it is a clear case of right versus wrong. An either or dilemma.

Braverman continued to insist that her Illegal Immigrants Bill was a necessity to ‘stop the boats’.
Lineker supporters continued assert he was in the right, and that her actions were morally wrong, illegal and unworkable.

What happened? The BBC went back on its position to suspend Lineker while a formal investigation took place. Normal service was resumed (Sorry, couldn’t resist that old joke).

But the most revealing comment was made again on Twitter by Gary Lineker. He tweeted his pleasure at returning to work, particularly thanking Tim Davie for dealing with a hideously complicated situation.

In that, he revealed for me an essential aspect of creative leadership. A skill at escaping either or dilemmas, and encouraging others around him to do the same.


Dick Fosbury. How creativity changed a sport

March 15, 2023

The death was announced this week of Dick Fosbury an American athlete who changed the ways an entire sport is conducted and as a result wrote his name for ever into sporting history.

Fosbury used his new technique, which became known as The Fosbury Flop to win the gold medal from the High Jump at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, setting a new Games record of 2.24 metres in the process, and paving the way for the style to be universally adopted by future generations in the event.

The sport had remained much the since since the early Greek Olympiads over two millennia ago.
The honour in those days was a garland made from the sacred olive tree, and was awarded to the athlete making the highest jump. Little has changed except for the awarding of a gold medal and consolation silver and bronze ones for runners up.
For two thousand years high jumpers gradually improved the performances. But no one had attempted to go beyond the obvious technique for leaping over a barrier.
Until Fosbury tried something different.
He had been experimenting with the unthinkable. A complete reversal of the obvious, an approach resulting in a backward leap.
It might have been no more than a trick, an exhibition to show the impossible was possible. But the demonstration went further than that.
Fosbury demonstrated his innovation on the greatest of stages, the Olympic Games. And won.
The news was received with astonishment and acclaim.
Athletes around the world began experimenting. They discovered the technique had not worked because Fosbury was some genetic freak, but because any high jumper could improve their performance by adapting the back to front, the reversal approach.

The impossible had become the normal.

The change also illustrated the impact of personal demonstration as a way of breaking out of an assumption, an unconscious belief.

Creativity scholars have described the process in various ways. Reversing perspective is found in the creative problem systems associated with the Buffalo school pioneered by Parnes and Osborn.
It was one of the simple but effective approaches suggested by Edward de Bono, and one incorporated into the creativity courses at Manchester Business School for student teams working on business projects.

An interesting footnote. A Canadian athlete, Debbie Ardell Brill had been experimenting successfully with a version of the new approach before Fosbury but is hardly mentioned for the Brill Bend. Like so many discoveries, the garland goes to the acclaimed winner. And nothing for the runners up.

Red side of Manchester in mourning after Liverpool mauling

March 6, 2023

Sunday 5 March, 2023

The darkest of night is descending on Manchester United supporters. A few years ago a great humiliation to its team took place at Anfield, home of its greatest rivals, Liverpool.

The run up had been spectacularly successful. In the space of two weeks the team had won a tight European knockout match against Barcelona, another of the sport’s glamour teams. A week ago United triumphed winning the Caraboa Cup, the old league cup now renamed after its new sponsors, a high-energy sports drink.
A year ago, Liverpool was competing with Manchester City for the rankings most successful and strongest team in Europe.
Manchester United was continuing a slump in form that had persisted like some terminal malady since the glorious era under super-manager Alex Ferguson.
But this season was to see a remarkable shift in success for the leading premiership teams. Liverpool plummeted until even charismatic manager Jurgen Klopp appeared a shadow of his previous self at inquests after the most recent loss.
Manchester City had acquired a phenomenal goal scorer smashing all records for the club.
After a shaky start, Manchester United under new manager Van Hag rediscovered the lost art of defence. An out-of-form striker Marcus Rashford rediscovered his mojo. New signings were justifying their eye-watering contracts. New heroes were emerging as precocious youths, or as the returning successes of the recent World Cup.
And to add to the surprises, Arsenal had taken the lead in the Premiership and retained it since the early weeks of the season.
During the week, the clash against Liverpool began to build up headlines. Former stars of Liverpool and United were back in the spotlight allowed to reminisce over past glories and to predict a result. The rediscovered pundits were mostly anticipating a United victory, disregarding the famous intimidating nature of Anfield stadium, fans, and team.

The drama is captured on Twitter

A few hours ago, Jamie mufc Gretton tweeted

Our record stinks at Anfield. I’d easily take a point. Liverpool back on form. But we’re also playing well and hard to beat. So it’ll be a good game!

Andy, another supporter, replied

Be more optimistic mate easy 4-0 for us today

I join in

Don’t send your hopes flying too close to the sun. I am fearing the worse, hoping for the best


I am trying a new approach, being optimistic.

I’m trying an old approach. Start the mourning early and the worse pain has gone before the match ends.

Tweets during the match become more and more desperate, singling out players who generally receive plaudits.

Jamie, tears dripping from every tweet.

I can accept losing at Anfield but not losing 7-0. It doesn’t make sense.

A Liverpool supporter tweets an image of MU’s favourite drink, 7 up.

A new day breaks. There has been an explosion of interest on the result. BBC Sport is playing time and again the seven goals.

A discussion is held about the mystical properties of the number seven.

Liverpool supporters are in their seventh heaven.

The red side of Manchester is in mourning after the Liverpool mauling of their team.

The Grubby World of Whistle Blowing and Media Scoops

March 1, 2023

Wednesday March 1st 2023

Two different stories this week seem to have overlapping messages. I have been reading the thriller Whistle Blower by TV journalist Robert Peston. Then today, a media scoop arrives from journalist Isobel Oakeshott, and published in the Daily Telegraph.

Peston describes the grubby world of the political journalist in a fictionalised way which clearly draws on his extensive experience as a lobby correspondent based in Westminster. He describes the skulduggery involved as journalists compete for scoops from leaks and rumours within a charmed inner circle.

A comparison between the two stories helps us understand the complex issues of ethics in whistleblowing and the revealing a scoop claiming public interest offered at the expense of dubious or downright dishonest practices.

The Oakeshott story takes us back to the time when Matt Hancock was health minister during the Covid pandemic. In the early days, there were regular press conferences in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the health minister reported and gave advice flanked by medical experts which gave legitimacy to their statements.

Later, Hancock was to become the centre of another drama which ended in his dismissal over secret assignations which broke his own Covid rules and his marriage. He resigned as MP and began a new life as a celebrity in I’m a celebrity get me out of here.

He was also writing his memoirs entitled The Pandemic Diaries. He recruited a ghost writer Isobel Oakeshott who acquired a vast amount of primary materials of a sensitive nature.

These were to become the materials turned into the story in the Daily Telegraph this morning and which quickly became hot news across the print and television media.

The story reveals that Matt Hancock during the Covid pandemic was told in April 2020 there should be “testing of all going into care homes”. Government guidance later made it mandatory for tests for only for those people leaving hospital.

The deaths of untested residents in care homes were to become a tragic consequence of Covid. Oakeshott’s story appears to find the Health Secretary at fault. A spokesperson for Mr Hancock said the messages had been “doctored and spun to fit an anti-lockdown agenda”.

Ms Oakeshott justifies her use of materials she obtained in confidence while working for Matt Hancock as resolving her moral dilemma by coming down on the side of the public interest. Others may chose to disagree.

I remember one expert of the ethics of leadership saying ethical dilemmas often involve balancing two ethical rights.

This is a story with legs, likely to keep moving for more than a one-morning stand in the newsagents.

I’ve let the team down. Now I must make amends

February 22, 2023

This is a dark day. Outside, grey Manchester skies loom over damp pavements.
Inside, my own mood is equally dark.

Yesterday evening I was preparing to eat a meal whipped up from an ancient can of beans and a residual piece of gammon that I discovered lurking at the back of the freezer.
A phone call from acting captain John, Reed, of East Cheshire Chess Club.
Are you playing tonight? he asked.

I avoided a sarcastic answer such as ‘no I’m cooking my dinner’. My surprise was genuine.
I don’t think so I said.

You should be, we are playing at Stockport. John sounded weary, rather than head-banging angry. I left out excuses or protestations of innocence. The ghastly truth had struck home. I had missed a league match against the toughest of opponents in the Stockport league. I had let my friends and colleagues down.
I could get over straight away, I said rather pathetically, turning off the oven.

Silence from my phone.

I was calculating that I would already be running out of time, even if I could break the speed limit and reach Stockport before my clock left me with a little time to play the game.
John broke the silence. I’ll cancel the game then he said. I would be recorded as a no-show.
I turn the oven back on.
Later, the meal was to taste disgusting.
Soon I will learn the consequences of my no-show.
I must find a way of making amends.

Listen to my podcast on this post at

Tudorama Newsletter February 13-20

February 20, 2023

Welcome as ever to Tudorama readers.

Podcast of the Week
Dr Glycol’s advice for storing raspberries
The intrepid doctor turns his scientific mind to solving the problem of the rapid rate at which raspberries go mushy after purchase.

Blogpost of the Week

News Headlines of the Week
Monday 13 February
Balloon hunting season continues. Pentagon releases statement saying no evidence found of UFO activity.
Chiefs win Super Bowl. Radio 5 Live transmits game live overnight to listeners in The U.K.
National Trust finds fewer clothes moths feeding on treasures. [Guardian news item]

Tuesday 14 February
Earthquake one week on. Humanitarian efforts turn to the millions of survivors in need of shelter food and water.
Intense fighting continues in Ukraine. News reports given less coverage.
New Zealand’s climate extremes continue. A state of emergency has been declared due to impact of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Wednesday 15 February
Russia believed to have intensified its military efforts in Ukraine, readying aircraft to join the conflict. Rishi
Sunak says Britain is ‘ready and able’ to engage Russia if needed. Presumably with NATO and EU cooperation.
Least surprising news. The three mysterious flying objects shot down in Project Balloon have been assessed as ‘benign’.
Breaking news. Nicola Sturgeon to resign as Scotland’s First Minister

Thursday 16 February
Nicola Bulley went missing 20 days ago during a routine riverside walk. Lancashire Police criticised for revealing in a press conference personal details of her vulnerabilities.
Centrica (British Gas owner) reveals record profits of £3.3 billion with little evidence of them feeding into consumer bills.
More dates of railway operators strikes announced in the buildup to the Easter holidays.

Friday 17 February
Hope is developing of a resolution to the consequences of the Northern Ireland Protocol, one of the clunkiest efforts to make Brexit work.
In Turkey, over a hundred arrests have been made in connection with illegal construction on buildings, contributing the death toll after the recent earthquake.
In Ukraine, President Zelenskiy rules out any concessions over territory in any eventual resolution to the conflict.

Saturday 18 February
Rishi Sunak has to deal with the EU, America’s commitment the the power sharing in Northern Ireland and the DUP unionist party over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Of these, the DUP has gold standard intransigence in ‘no surrender’ negotiations.
Sporting headline. A Qatari consortium of unrivalled wealth states its interest in buying Manchester United Football Club. Likely to result in human rights issue being introduced by activists and football supporters.
Sunday 19 February
Sunak continues his efforts to resolve the difficulties of the Northern Ireland border repositioned in the Irish Sea by the Brexit settlement negotiated by Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson helpfully suggests how to succeed by pursuing his own uncompleted plans interrupted by his removal as Prime Minister.
China is to outline a plan for peace in Ukraine on the anniversary of the start of the conflict next week.

Tudorama Teaser of the Week

Where did the sentence ‘now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party’ originate?
Was it
Karl Marx, Revolutionary
Groucho Marx, Wit and comedian
Charles E Weller, Author of a history of the typewriter?
[Answer below]

Twitter Wit and Wisdom
I once invented a new microphone , but I received some really bad feedback

I do not believe I hold any extreme views, much of what I’ll say on here & on TV is what the majority will be thinking, many might not say it, because of jobs or fear of silly labels from accounts on here, but they’re thinking it & probably saying it around friends/family.
It’s funny how extremists always think they are talking for a ‘silent’ majority.
It’s hard for them to believe that most DON’T think like them.

Old jokes revisited.
Policeman to driver
” Excuse me sir, this is a one way street”
“I’m only going one way”
Other scenarios are available…
Policeman to driver
” Excuse me sir, didn’t you see the arrows?”
“I didn’t even see the Indians!”

Also see more from @TollyTB on our podcast
How to create great groan-worthy puns

Answer to Tudorama Teaser of the Week

The answer is Charles E Weller, author of a successful book about the early history of the typewriter.
He came up with a training exercise for young typewriters. Yes, in the early 1900s, the users of typewriters were known as typewriters. Weller came up with the sentence as a practice drill.
Later, the sentence was modified to read
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.
This works out as the required seventy characters (counting the fifteen spaces between words and the full stop to give a classical full line of type.
Incidentally, another even more famous typing exercise is
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
This is an example of a pangram, a sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet, and thought to be useful for typing practice.


This week the books are selected from Stockport Library readers’ choice

A Three Dog Problem. Her Majesty the Queen Investigates, by S.B.Bennett
A Gambling Man, by David Baldacci
The Innocent, by Harlan Coben

For Younger Readers and Listeners
The Cat on the Mat is Flat, Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton.
Here they come: frogs, logs, bogs, dogs, cogs and flag-waving hogs.

Next Week’s Newsletter
Don’t miss the report on peaceful resolution of a conflict involving Tudorama staff and an irate motorist.
Other world news, China’s peace plan for Ukraine, Sunak’s (and Johnson’s) plans for the Northern Ireland border.

How to live a long and fulfilled life

February 20, 2023

Guardian journalist Phillipa Kelly carried out interviews with 100 centenarians. The summary of her results reported recently offers excellent material for a research study

Her article has the title 

‘100 tips for a life well-lived’

Shortly after I started reading the article, I had that feeling which accompanies everyday creativity. There is something very interesting being reported. The information would make the basis for a study of creativity.

I begun the task in the hope of finding how creativity may play a part in well-being.

My working notes are provided here for such a study. They are very much in research notebook form. Each post will report 10 items for subsequent analysis

TR 20 February 2023

Tom Hennessey 100 RAF pilot Respecting other people and listening to them.

Dorothy Marley 100 executive secretary. Avoiding hurting people. Feeling good about yourself.

Pat Bishop 101 drama director. Being involved with people. Trying new things.

Edward Toms. 102 army officer a sense of humour involved with others, especially significant others

Amelia Mendel 106 actor having an interesting life engaged with others

Doris Martin typist keeping an active mind doing things having family


Nurse and activist 105 moderation keep your family together don’t be stuck in the past

Fernando winemaker read and remain curious don’t get lazy be active

Nikki 103 Air Force and hotel manager 

Accept challenges. Plenty of reading. Get up early


A teacher. Plenty of fun and laughter 

The first ten

Dangerous to judge prematurely. I shall be making my own conclusions up but not publishing them yet.

I wonder what yours might me. Do let me know.

Where did the sentence ‘now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party’ originate?

February 16, 2023

Where did the sentence ‘now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party’ originate?

Was it:

Karl Marx, Revolutionary
Groucho Marx, Wit and comedian
Charles E Weller, Author of a history of the typewriter?

The answer is Charles E Weller, author of a successful book about the early history of the typewriter.
He came up with a training exercise for young typewriters. (Yes, in the early 1900s, the users of typewriters were known as typewriters. Weller came up with the sentence as a practice drill).

One good idea leads to another

Later, the idea was modified to read:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

This works out as the required seventy characters (counting the fifteen spaces between words and the full stop to give a classical full line of type.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Incidentally, another even more famous typing exercise is

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

You may already know, or worked it out for the first time. ‘The exercise ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ is an example of a pangram, a sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet.

How to Create great groan-worthy puns. A lesson from a master.

February 15, 2023

Puns are great examples of every day creativity. Checking on its meaning, I learned that

‘ Pun (also called paronomasia) is a play on words or the humorous use of a word emphasizing a different meaning or application. They have been called by some “the lowest form of humor” ‘.

A Sniffy Attitude

This rather sniffy attitude has not prevented the survival of puns to the present day from its 18th century critics. I started collecting puns from Twitter some months ago and discovered a disproportionate number were being produced by a few punsters. One such goes under the Twitter label TollyTB who describes himself as
a bacon, butty munching ex-rugby player older than the pyramids application order. He adds that oval balls are harder to juggle.

A Conversation with a Master Punster

I’ve recently found myself in Twitter conversation with Tolly after the following tweet

I once invented a new microphone , but I received some really bad feedback.

I replied

One of your top tweets. Do you make then up, or pass them on?

Some are my own, but as with many jokes, there’s a large amount of rehashed ones.

Bonus point for honest answer. Do you do standup?

I occasionally stand up, but prefer to lounge on the sofa.

Thought I could squeeze another out of you. How about a rugby one after the weekend’s fantasy matches?

Pen rugby club v Crayola Rugby club. Result: A draw.

Twitter can be a mirthless medium. We need a few more punsters like Tolly TB to get the groan content a little higher.

[To be continued, here and maybe on Twitter


How the Mighty have Fallen. Wales slink  into Murrayfield fearing the worse

February 11, 2023

Saturday 11th of February 2023

The Welsh rugby team heads for Scotland after a traumatic beating in Cardiff by Ireland last week.

There was a time when Scotland were Wales’s bunnies. And there was a time when Wales reigned supreme as the Northern Hemisphere champion rugby players. This was the era when the competition was for the Triple Crown. The four teams competing were Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

Welsh Rugby was at its height

This was the time when Welsh rugby was at its height. But even then, in the 1950s and 60s a trip to Murrayfield was not undertaken without trepidation.My own memories are of glorious victories at the Arms Park against England and Ireland, but losses to unfancied Scottish teams at Murrayfield.

Scotland remained the whipping boys of the four nations competing for the triple Crown. Their reputation as weakest team continued when France joined in the tournament.

Italy joins

But then Italy was introduced into the club, and immediately became the whipping boys, providing Scotland with one team at least which they had chances of beating.

This relatively stable status quo remained for some years. but recently the balance has changed. France and Ireland are now rated numbers one and two in the world, seized supremacy over the long time number one from New Zealand, closely followed by the other southern hemisphere teams Australia and South Africa.

England could claim bragging rights over the northern hemisphere teams after their much vaunted World Cup victory.

A new order emerges

Last weekend, a new order began to emerge. Ireland demonstrated its superiority over Wales, leaving the land of my Fathers humiliated and shellshocked.

In contrast, Italy ran France close and showed they had closed the gap between themselves, and the other nations.

But the big surprise of the weekend was a stunning victory by Scotland over England. The world order in rugby has changed completely.

And so it came about that Wales is heading for Murrayfield, the underdogs for maybe the first time in living history.

This is not going to be an easy watch.

To be continued …