Obits pay tribute to Ken Cargill

OBITUARIES for the former BBC Scotland head of news, Ken Cargill, are carried in both The Herald and The Scotsman today.

As reported on, Cargill died, aged 65.

Both written by Matt Spicer, they tell of the Edinburgh University graduate starting out at BBC Scotland as a researcher on the current affairs ‘bedrock’, Current Account.

Spicer then goes on to write: “Ken’s finest hour as a producer was probably with Agenda, a weekly political series on Sundays, which displayed his programme sense and editorial judgment. It frequently caught the attention of the press and resulted in good coverage in newspapers as diverse as The Herald, The Guardian, the Irish Times and – his local – The Dundee Courier. There followed, in 1986-7, a comprehensive account of the state of the nation in Scotland 2000, 50-minute films, followed by 30-minute discussions plus radio phone-ins. It was high profile and well received.”

The Herald obituary is accompanied by a news article on page 3 of today’s edition.

Later, Spicer writes: “Ken stepped up to editor, news and current affairs television, in 1988, adding the radio operation to his portfolio in 1994. (He was even, for a time, in charge of sport, though never seen engaging in it.) These were the years of transformation.

“New specialist correspondents were appointed, the newsrooms in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee were brought into the mainstream and – most challenging of all – journalists off screen and on were required to be bi-media, servicing both radio and TV bulletins. Reporters and correspondents were trained to edit their own stories in an electronic revolution that surpassed even the changes in newspaper production. All this was achieved at a time of increased pressure on budgets and staff – pressure which has continued and severely taxed his successors. He presided too over the devolution referendum and the establishment of a new Scottish Parliamentary unit.”

And, as reported yesterday, Cargill oversaw the move of BBC Scotland to its new HQ at Pacific Quay, in Glasgow.

Concludes Spicer: “Though he died in his beloved Angus, aged 65, his monument is on the south bank of the Clyde in the shape of the BBC building and the standard of its programmes.”