Anthony Jay

Biography of Anthony Jay

Sir Antony Rupert Jay (born 20 April 1930) is an English writer, broadcaster, director, and actor famous for the co-authorship, with Jonathan Lynn, of the successful British political comedies Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (1980–88). Also wrote The Householder's Guide to Community Defence Against Bureaucratic Aggression (1972).

Sir Antony had a distinguished career as a broadcaster and in public relations, for which he was created a Knight Bachelor in 1988. He also wrote the BBC TV documentaries Royal Family and Elizabeth R, for which he was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) for personal services to the Royal Family. Jay was also a partner with John Cleese in the Video Arts training film production company.

He was educated at St Paul's School, where he was a near-contemporary of the neurologist Oliver Sacks, the classical guitarist Julian Bream, and the former Home Secretary Kenneth Baker. He was at Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating with first-class honours in classics and comparative philology. After national service in the Royal Signals, he joined BBC Television in 1955, and was a member of the team that launched the current affairs programme Tonight, of which he was editor from 1962 to 1963. From 1963 to 1964 he was Head of Television Talk Features, before leaving the BBC to take up a career as a freelance writer and producer. Jay was knighted in 1988 and remains a mordant observer of politics, including those of the broadcasters themselves. He was interviewed in the BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory! and The Trap.

In 2007 Jay criticised the anti-establishment mindset of the BBC and similar media outlets such as The Guardian. He stated "we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it." In particular he criticised how the opinions of BBC staff "were at odds with the majority of the audience and the electorate".

His 2008 report for the Centre for Policy Studies How to Save the BBC provoked fierce debate by advocating a radical reduction of the scale of the corporation's activities.

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