BUSHLOG photo archive World Service general 5
Jane Carrington, September 1998


A eulogy delivered by Jim Edwards, a friend and former BBC World Service News colleague of Jane Carrington, at her funeral on Monday, November 21, 2005, at the Reading Crematorium, All Hallows Road, Caversham.

Jane died of cancer on November 8, 2005.

Jane was vital to the working of Bush House newsroom for more than 20 years. One or two thought they might know her official job title but no one used it. Her name alone was enough to make clear her importance.

Jane was in charge of the highly complex rota system required for the 24 hours a day operation providing 200 new bulletins and programmes for 44 different language services. It required a skill and personality such as Jane’s to ensure the system worked. Cock-ups were unknown.

After her departure computers were never able to match her abilities. Unlike the staff they couldn’t cope with night shifts – the dawns as they are known in newsroom parlance.

Jane’s office with windows overlooking the newsroom was a sanctum of support, friendly, intelligent conversation on a wide range of topics – and of discreet help. The door was virtually always open. If it were closed there was keen interest in the rest of the room as to who was in there, and why. The journalists talked freely to her, secure in the knowledge that nothing they said would be heard outside that little office.

It was the knowledge of the individuals thus gained that enabled Jane to ensure the shift system ran smoothly. Journalists can be quite temperamental and Jane was skilled in ensuring that those who had to work together were as compatible as possible. She was informed about liaisons and the ending of them; no confidence was betrayed. In a room full of curious and inquiring journalists she was better informed than any of them. Everyone knew it, but few of the curious had the temerity to question her. Should they try there was a raising of the eyebrows which quickly made them realize they had overstepped the line.

Although not herself a journalist she had the journalist’s skill of knowing when to be silent to invite that further disclosure which occurs between friends. One former well-known correspondent described her as a model interviewer.

Jane had a real skill in persuading people to change a shift; it was done with a smile that made one feel generous about spending a night in the newsroom rather than in bed.

The new wave of journalists arriving in the 1960s found a room peopled by men and women of high calibre who had either fled the advancing Nazis or Red Army and/or served in the armed forces and some of whom it was whispered had seen service with the Secret Service or army intelligence. They were of various, generally European, nationalities as well as British. Jane was a real link between them and the new brand of journalist arriving with experience in news agencies, in Africa, Switzerland, Australasia and other parts of the world, as well as with newspapers in Britain. She was a keeper of newsroom oral history stretching back before the time the various regional newsrooms were united.

She also probably features in the former communist secret police files in Poland . During the Cold War two senior Polish media figures being shown around the newsroom repeatedly asked about the Censor. Just before they left, they spotted Jane in her corner office and were triumphant:”Ah, she’s the censor!” They were disinclined to believe an explanation that although Jane was indeed powerful her power was restricted to planning the rota. You see, they knew that in the communist world such people were often very important politically. Jane was highly amused.

It was difficult to think of Jane with a life outside the newsroom, however people were curious. She was a very private person but some gradually learned of her love of the garden at her cottage in Dunsfold in Surrey and of the Oxfordshire countryside where she had lived after the war. They learned that the painter and prominent member of the Bloomsbury group, Dora Carrington, was her aunt.

Her sister Joanna was also an artist of note and so is her niece, Joanna’s daughter Sophie. Her father founded Puffin Books. Jane, herself, had a love of literature and could talk engagingly about it.

In retirement she kept up with her old friends and colleagues, most of them also retired, and there was a steady stream of visitors to Goring.

Jane was frequently in pain and discomfort caused by the polio she contracted about the age of five. As we know, it got worse as the years went by but she did not complain, indeed it was never mentioned; rather she was matter of fact about the consequences of disability.

She had a collapsible chair which could be stowed in a car boot so that she could be taken out on picnics or to lunch in one of the marvelous old country pubs she had either known much of her life or had recently learned about. There was at least one occasion when the only way in was to be carried, in her chair, up a flight of steps. She judged a pub not on the quality of its beer or wine – she usually restricted herself to a glass of lager and one of wine – but on its ambience and food.

Lunch would often be followed by a tour of her favourite places, with a stop here and there to enjoy a familiar view and to explain its place in her childhood and youthful memory.

Jane was at the BBC for nearly forty years. A former correspondent described her as probably the last civilized person in Bush House. Her death was a great shock. It truly marks the end of an era. She herself, of course, would not have seen what all the fuss was about.

Jane will be very sadly missed - but remembered with great affection.