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Speaker

Phil Jones

Phil Jones is an outstanding speaker. For nearly three decades he ran the Jeremy Vine Show and before that Jimmy Young, and it is now the biggest current affairs show in Europe. As well as entertaining after dinner speaking the trials and tribulations of editing the nation’s most popular current affairs show, Phil’s maverick management skills make him appealing to corporate audiences as well.

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About Phil Jones

Phil Jones has a story for every occasion. His view of the world is informed by the fact that his family were marked by some of the epic events of the 20th Century. These include from the trenches of World War One to the D-Day Beaches, the Holocaust to the Stalinist regime. Add meeting some of the most famous people on the planet including the Queen, Hillary Clinton, Paul McCartney and serving Prime Ministers to the mix and you can expect an incredible speech.

Biography

Phil Jones was born in Wimbledon in 1958, but his life is informed by his three decades editing the country’s biggest current affairs show, and by the epic events of the 20th century that so affected his family. His grandfather died in the trenches of WW1.  His father lost his best friend on the D-Day Beaches. His wife’s grandmother was a suffragette, who threw a brick through the Home Secretary’s window and then was tortured in Holloway Prison. Two of Phil’s family were murdered at Auschwitz. His grandfather was wrongly imprisoned by the Stalinist authorities and died prematurely.

As a young man Phil ran a Children’s Playbus in North Yorkshire. The bus was decorated with rabbits and a rainbow and he drove it all over the Yorkshire Moors and Dales.  He still called it the best job in the world. Phil then then worked as a social worker with under-aged runaways, in central London.  After that he helped run a landscape gardening business.

In his early thirties he trained to be a journalist, saying his family history convinced him of the need to always be on the side of the little man (and woman) challenging authority and the abuse of power.

Later in his career when he was promoted into management, he says he saw it as his role, not to take the side of his managers, but rather to protect his staff from the vagaries of management.

As an Editor Phil had a reputation for being a maverick and a rule breaker. He remains a huge fan of the BBC, calling it Britain’s greatest cultural institution, but yet, he tended to avoid management meetings like the plague.

Despite being promoted into a senior role, Phil always steadfastly hung onto his role as a programme maker. Phil’s first love is radio, and he says there is nothing better than being in a live radio studio making radio programmes.

His ground-breaking series “What Makes us Human” was recently published as a book. In asking the hardest question of all, he managed to turn philosophy into a popular and much listened to part of his Radio 2 programme. Phil is also a contributor to the New Statesman magazine and is currently writing a book about how his life and his family’s life, informed his world at the BBC, and his commitment to journalism.

Phil is the author of, “What Makes us Human” which was published by Headline in August 2021.  The paperback is due out in 2022.

Despite all Phil’s professional success, to him family and friends remain the most important part of his life.   He’s a prodigious hiker and claims to have already experienced “heaven on earth”.  “That’s waking up next to my beloved wife Kathy, watching the sunrise in a tent on top of a mountain”   Although when asked what he would do if he could go back in time he says: “That’s easy.  I’d spend a day with my two children when they were 5 and 7 and enjoy re-living every second of it.  I dearly love my children who are now 26 and 28 but spending a day with them when they were little would be a great joy.”

 

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As one of the longest serving BBC Editors Phil has encountered all sorts of people and he has stories that will both delight and shock you in equal measure.   What is the Queen’s favourite TV show?  How Paul McCarney auditioned George for the Beatles on the top of a double decker bus.   In a memorable encounter, Phil tells Hillary Clinton how his mother escaped from the Holocaust, as an 11 years old on a train with her 9 year old sister.   And how his grandmother walked over the mountains into Poland, to escape from the Nazi’s, like in the Sound of Music.   Phil was there when Jimmy Young made a fool of both John Major and Tony Blair, and when Jeremy Vine contributed to the end of Gordon Brown’s premiership, in the famous “bigoted woman row”.

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