BBC Blows Thousands Entertaining Stars And Politicians At The Proms

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By Miles Goslett | 10:44 am, October 26, 2016

BBC executives spent just under £20,000 of licence fee payers’ money entertaining actors, employees, politicians, friends, relatives and partners at the Proms this summer, Heat Street can reveal.

Details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the Corporation also gave away free tickets to these guests which on the open market would have been worth an estimated £10,000.

Stars including Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Julie Walters and Lenny Henry were treated to drinks and food plus the best seats at the Royal Albert Hall – all paid for with BBC money.

Scroll down for a complete list of attendees and costs

Among politicians who attended the series of concerts, held over eight weeks of the summer, were prominent Remainers such as Theresa May, ex-education secretary Nicky Morgan and ex-BBC chief Lord Birt.

They were personal guests of BBC director-general Lord Hall, along with another die hard Remainer – Financial Times editor Lionel Barber.

Another prominent guest was Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, the political fixer known as “Sir Cover-Up” thanks to his obsession with secrecy.

Heywood and a plus-one, presumed to be his wife, were invited to share a box with Lord Hall at the Albert Hall on two separate occasions.

On the opening night of the festival the BBC threw a party which cost £6,500. Concert tickets cost a further £4,720. The remaining £8,000 or so of expenditure was clocked up over the next eight weeks. Hundreds of pounds went on Proms programmes.

A high number of BBC employees were also treated to free tickets and drinks at the Proms including Economics Correspondent Kamal Ahmed and veteran presenters Alan Yentob, David Dimbleby, Jonathan Dimbleby, Mary Beard and Mary Berry.

The total guest list, which comes to more than 150, provides an insight into the inner circle of the BBC’s top executives as well as those they are keen to engage in future work.

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC Proms is the world’s largest classical music festival and a major cultural event managed and broadcast by the BBC and money raised from tickets and programmes goes towards the running costs of the festival.

“The BBC works hard to ensure value for money for its licence fee payers. The cost of invited guests has been strictly controlled by corporate hospitality guidelines and has come down by nearly a fifth on last year.”

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