The Info List - Hugh Greene

Sir Hugh Carleton Greene KCMG OBE (15 November 1910 – 19 February 1987) was a British journalist and television executive. He was Director-General of the BBC from 1960 to 1969, and is generally credited with modernising an organisation that had fallen behind in the wake of the launch of ITV in 1955. He was the brother of Graham Greene, the English novelist.


1 Early life and work 2 Wartime and post-war work 3 Director-General of the BBC 4 Other roles 5 Personal life 6 Portrayal in popular culture 7 Publications 8 Footnotes 9 Sources 10 Further reading

Early life and work[edit] Greene was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire,[1] one of the four sons and two daughters of Charles Henry Greene, Headmaster of Berkhamsted School. His brothers were novelist Graham Greene, Raymond Greene, a physician and Everest mountaineer, and Herbert Greene, the eldest, a relatively little-known poet recruited in 1933 as a Japanese spy and perhaps best remembered for leading a march at Broadcasting House
Broadcasting House
in protest against one of his brother's actions as Director-General. After education at Berkhamsted
School and Merton College, Oxford,[2] Greene came to prominence as a journalist in 1934 when he became the chief correspondent in Berlin
for The Daily Telegraph. He and several other British journalists, including his secretary in Berlin, Barbara Henman, were expelled from Berlin
in reprisal for the removal of a Nazi
propagandist in England. Greene managed to report from Warsaw
on the opening events of the Second World War
Second World War
and continued as a correspondent for a short time. He served briefly with the Royal Air Force in 1940 as an interrogator, but was encouraged by the military authorities to join the BBC
later that year. Wartime and post-war work[edit] Greene joined the BBC
as head of the German Service in 1940 at the age of 29.[2] He made significant improvements to transmissions following a risky flight in a De Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
aircraft over occupied Norway
to study the effects of Nazi
radio jamming. He presented news and discussion programmes and became fairly well known in Europe
in this role. From 1941 he helped to smooth the relationship between the BBC
and the Political Warfare Executive
Political Warfare Executive
(PWE), whose goals were somewhat at odds: the BBC
strove for accurate, unbiased journalism whereas the PWE was largely concerned with propaganda. Following the war, Greene helped with the rebuilding of German broadcasting infrastructure in the British Occupied Zone. With the Cold War
Cold War
developing, he was given the task of leading the BBC's East European service, and produced propaganda for the British Army
British Army
in Malaya during the Communist uprising in 1947. Greene returned to the BBC
in the 1950s, where his reputation and ability caught the attention of Director-General Sir Ian Jacob. (It was probably during this period that he began using his middle name, Carleton, presumably to distinguish him from the popular ITV entertainer Hughie Green.) He started as Director of Administration and in 1958 he swapped jobs with the unpopular Tahu Hole to become Director of News and Current Affairs. He succeeded Jacob as Director-General two years later, in 1960. Days after his promotion, Greene made arrangements for Hole to receive a golden handshake for early retirement. According to one of his biographers, Greene thought one of his greatest contributions to broadcasting was the restoration of order to Hole's austere news department, which had come to be known as the "Kremlin of the BBC". It later materialised that Hole had leaked a secret BBC
document to the competing Independent Television Authority (ITA) in which concerns were voiced about the financial interests of newspapers in ITV companies. Greene learned of the leak from a displeased Ivone Kirkpatrick, the chairman of the ITA. (Kirkpatrick had been a member of the PWE, Head of the BBC's wartime European Services and High Commissioner of the British Occupied Zone in Germany and had worked with Greene many times.) The leak would have led to Hole's immediate dismissal, but it was detected after his retirement. Director-General of the BBC[edit] Greene kept the BBC
in pace with the major social changes in Britain in the 1960s,[3] and through such series as Steptoe and Son, Z-Cars and That Was The Week That Was, the BBC
moved away from the ethos of Reithian middle-class values and deference to traditional authority and power. Controversial, socially concerned dramas such as Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home were broadcast as part of The Wednesday Play, which gave Dennis Potter his breakthrough as a dramatist with the "Nigel Barton" plays, amongst others. Greene is thought to have directly suggested only two programmes, the imported American series Perry Mason and Songs of Praise[4] which began in 1961. The tone of much of BBC
radio changed less radically in the Greene era than BBC
television, with much of the current national network structure not being introduced until 1970, by which time Sir Charles Curran was Director-General. However it was in 1967, under Greene's directorship, that the corporation began a dedicated pop radio network with Radio 1, taking most of its DJs and music policy from offshore pirate radio ships, like Radio Caroline, which were now illegal because of the Marine, &c., Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967. Greene strongly resisted pressure from the 'clean-up TV' campaigner Mary Whitehouse, a policy not always followed by later directors-general. Greene's undoing followed the appointment of the former Conservative minister Lord Hill as chairman of the BBC
governors from September 1, 1967, by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who had criticised Hill's appointment as chairman of the Independent Television
Authority by a Conservative government in 1963. A more cautious and conservative atmosphere then took hold in the corporation, typified by the axeing (until 1972) of Till Death Us Do Part, one of the series most despised by Whitehouse, but one of its most popular. In July 1968 the BBC issued the document Broadcasting In The Public Mood without Greene's significant involvement, seeming to question the continued broadcasting of the more provocative and controversial material (one of Greene's allies at the top level of the Corporation described this document as "emasculated and philistine") and in October 1968 Greene announced that he would be retiring as Director-General. He was succeeded the next year by the more conservative Sir Charles Curran. This move was welcomed by a great many MPs, Governors of the BBC, Churchmen and Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association, as Greene was regarded by the conservative minded with disdain. Whitehouse once commented: "Greene fully understood the destructive power of the satire. Why, knowing its power, did he also use it here against family life, Christianity etc? This is the heart of our complaint against Greene."[5] Other roles[edit] Greene then became a BBC
governor, a position he held until 1971. He has remained a divisive figure in what have been called the British "culture wars" (after the American term for the liberal-conservative divide in US society); he has frequently been attacked by conservatives. The writer Peter Hitchens
Peter Hitchens
has condemned Greene for his part in the erosion of what he sees as a better Britain. In 1985 he received the Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor from the German Eduard Rhein Foundation for outstanding work related to the promotion of scientific research and of learning, the arts, and culture at home and abroad. The number of living bearers of these rings is limited to ten.[6] Beyond his work in broadcasting and journalism, Greene was known for his appreciation of beer and became a director of the Greene King Brewery, established by his great-grandfather, Benjamin Greene, in 1799. He also once bested his famous brother Graham in a writing contest to parody the novelist's writing style in the New Statesman. Personal life[edit] Greene was knighted in 1964. He was married four times: to Helga Guinness, Elaine Shaplen, Tatjana Sais and Sarah Grahame. He had two sons by each of the first two marriages.[2][7] He died in Westminster, London, of cancer, aged 76.[8] Portrayal in popular culture[edit] In 2008 Greene was played by Hugh Bonneville
Hugh Bonneville
in the BBC
drama Filth: The Mary Whitehouse
Mary Whitehouse
Story. This focused on Greene's conflict with Whitehouse (played by Julie Walters) and later with Lord Hill (played by Ron Cook) when he was Director General. Publications[edit]

The Spy's Bedside Book (ed. with Graham Greene) (1957) The Third Floor Front: A View of Broadcasting in the Sixties (1969) The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: Early Detective Stories (1971) Cosmopolitan Crimes: Foreign Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1971) The Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1973) The American Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (1979)


^ Births England and Wales 1837-1983 ^ a b c Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 207.  ^ "The BBC
Story" (PDF). BBC.  ^ Asa Briggs The history of broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Volume 5, Oxford: Oxford Unioversity Press, p.334 ^ Michael Tracey and David Morrison Whitehouise, London
& Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992, p.93 ^ "The Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor Recipients". Eduard Rhein Foundation. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved February 5, 2011.  ^ Fowler, Glenn (1987-02-21). "Sir Hugh Greene, 76, Dies In London". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-02.  ^ Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006


Miall, Leonard (1994). Inside the BBC: British Broadcasting Characters. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 103–110. ISBN 0-297-81328-5.  Tise Vahimagi, 'Sir Hugh Greene (1910-1987)', screenonline: the definitive guide to Britain's film and TV history Greene King Brewery
Greene King Brewery

Further reading[edit]

Lewis, Jeremy (2010). Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family. Jonathan Cape. 

Media offices

Preceded by Sir Ian Jacob 1952–1959 Director-General of the BBC 1960–1969 Succeeded by Charles Curran 1969–1977

v t e

BAFTA Fellowship recipients


Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
(1971) Freddie Young (1972) Grace Wyndham Goldie (1973) David Lean
David Lean
(1974) Jacques Cousteau
Jacques Cousteau
(1975) Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
(1976) Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1976) Denis Forman (1977) Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann
(1978) Lew Grade
Lew Grade
(1979) Huw Wheldon
Huw Wheldon
(1979) David Attenborough
David Attenborough
(1980) John Huston
John Huston
(1980) Abel Gance
Abel Gance
(1981) Michael Powell
Michael Powell
& Emeric Pressburger
Emeric Pressburger
(1981) Andrzej Wajda
Andrzej Wajda
(1982) Richard Attenborough
Richard Attenborough
(1983) Hugh Greene (1984) Sam Spiegel
Sam Spiegel
(1984) Jeremy Isaacs (1985) Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
(1986) Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini
(1987) Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
(1988) Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
(1989) Paul Fox (1990) Louis Malle
Louis Malle
(1991) John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1992) David Plowright (1992) Sydney Samuelson (1993) Colin Young (1993) Michael Grade
Michael Grade
(1994) Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
(1995) Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau
(1996) Ronald Neame
Ronald Neame
(1996) John Schlesinger
John Schlesinger
(1996) Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(1996) Woody Allen
Woody Allen
(1997) Steven Bochco
Steven Bochco
(1997) Julie Christie
Julie Christie
(1997) Oswald Morris (1997) Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter
(1997) David Rose (1997) Sean Connery
Sean Connery
(1998) Bill Cotton
Bill Cotton
(1998) Eric Morecambe
Eric Morecambe
& Ernie Wise
Ernie Wise
(1999) Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
(1999) Michael Caine
Michael Caine
(2000) Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
(2000) Peter Bazalgette
Peter Bazalgette


Albert Finney
Albert Finney
(2001) John Thaw
John Thaw
(2001) Judi Dench
Judi Dench
(2001) Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
(2002) Merchant Ivory Productions (2002) Andrew Davies (2002) John Mills
John Mills
(2002) Saul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz
(2003) David Jason (2003) John Boorman
John Boorman
(2004) Roger Graef (2004) John Barry (2005) David Frost
David Frost
(2005) David Puttnam
David Puttnam
(2006) Ken Loach
Ken Loach
(2006) Anne V. Coates (2007) Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis
(2007) Will Wright (2007) Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
(2008) Bruce Forsyth
Bruce Forsyth
(2008) Dawn French
Dawn French
& Jennifer Saunders
Jennifer Saunders
(2009) Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam
(2009) Nolan Bushnell
Nolan Bushnell
(2009) Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
(2010) Shigeru Miyamoto
Shigeru Miyamoto
(2010) Melvyn Bragg
Melvyn Bragg
(2010) Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee
(2011) Peter Molyneux
Peter Molyneux
(2011) Trevor McDonald (2011) Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
(2012) Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris
(2012) Alan Parker
Alan Parker
(2013) Gabe Newell
Gabe Newell
(2013) Michael Palin
Michael Palin
(2013) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(2014) Rockstar Games
Rockstar Games
(2014) Julie Walters
Julie Walters
(2014) Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh
(2015) David Braben (2015) Jon Snow (2015) Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
(2016) John Carmack
John Carmack
(2016) Ray Galton & Alan Simpson (2016) Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks
(2017) Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley
(2017) Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 64799041 LCCN: n50033983 ISNI: 0000 0000 8144 8974 GND: 118541803 SUDOC: 090333993 BNF: cb166827990 (data) BIBSYS: 1079478 BNE: XX5147746 SN