Media Medium
15 September 2000

BBC

Two halves of a Zodiac Coin at the BBC

The BBC's Peter Salmon and Lorraine Heggessey

A compelling symmetry emerges as the mantle of BBC1 Controller passes from Taurus Peter Salmon (15 May 1956) to Scorpio Lorraine Heggessey (16 November 1956). Born six months from each other, their suns are in exact opposition, 180 degrees apart. The job change is marked by Saturn triggering this opposition from June until next spring, yoking together their destinies at the BBC.<

Peter Salmon seems fated to do the hard bits, with his money- conscious Taurus sun opposed by Saturn at birth, a symbol of limitation. He has been a safe pair of hands during a cash- starved era, and it is ironic that just as Greg Dyke, another Taurean, finally delivers more booty, Salmon won't get to spend it. Now he is off to Sports, where the BBC is chronically unable to compete with cash-rich commercial channels. Even so, he should be happier because his unexpressed Jupiterian creativity can loosen up and play games with the BBC's sporty Sagittarian planets.

Heggessey has strong links with two of the principal horoscopes for the BBC. Its Capricorn Royal Charter (1 Jan 1927) has Saturn conjunct the Moon. Heggessey, born on its first 29- year Saturn cycle, is fittingly symbolised as the first woman (Moon) controller (Saturn). The horoscope for BBC television, timed for the first public broadcast (3pm, 2 November 1936), shows it as a Scorpio. Heggessey has immediate affinity here, with all the tough, determined and transformative energy of the Scorpion, more daring than her Taurus opposite number.

Mark Thompson, Director of Television, describes her "tremendous energy and fierce commitment", and Heggessey's aggressive Mars is placed exactly on the Ascendant of this BBC TV horoscope. The rationale of her appointment is for her to go in like the SAS in the ratings war. Little wonder she likes Warriors. When she combines her sex, death and secrets Scorpio instincts with the clinical Virgo in her horoscope, we see Animal Hospital, The Human Body and Biteback. Scorpio may also tempt her into controversy. Her stint as producer of The Underworld, interviewing Mad Frankie Fraser, shows the Plutonic side of her Scorpio colours, but this type of programming may prove too near- the-edge for prime time television. Mars often brings trouble in its train, and although things may be rosy between her and Dyke at present, the contacts in their charts are oppositions, suggesting divergences of opinion when the honeymoon is over.

Because this job comes under humourless Saturn, despite all her talent and energy, Heggessey should be prepared for the same flattening influence felt by Peter Salmon. She carries the BBC's burden of being a public service broadcaster in competition with commercial genre channels. Apart from slugging it out in the ratings war, with Heggessey leading from the front, the unanswered question remains: what is the BBC for?

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