Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Mohit Bakaya


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MOHIT BAKAYA – the BBC man who has the ear of millions of Britons … and all from his daughter’s bedroom and beyond.

When you meet Bakaya, the first impression is of a quiet, fierce and securely intelligent man, someone comfortable in his own skin. He listens intently. He thinks quickly. Then he speaks, deliberately and passionately.

“It’s been amazing,” he says about the past 12 months. “It’s been amazing mainly, I think,because it has really shown the value of Radio 4 for me, something which I believe in passionately and have known for many years.

“But it has really amplified the importance of Radio 4 to the nation, I hope, in terms of the way in which we’ve provided companionship, as well as kind of explaining the virus and doing all the things we need to bring people together at a time when there’s so much unsettlement and anxiety.”

Most of us outside the world of broadcasting are unlikely to appreciate that Bakaya has one of the most difficult jobs in the UK media world. As the controller of Radio 4, the ears, opinions and views of middle-class Britain are constantly scrutinising him.

According to the BBC, Radio 4’s target audience “35-54 ABC1 (commonly termed ‘replenishers’) makes up 24 per cent.” The good news is that since he took over, listenership has gone up. The current figures are almost 11 million, up an impressive 4.8 per cent year-on-year. The bad news is that everyone has an opinion.

Think about the criticism of the “Archers monologues” during the pandemic. Not that Bakaya minds, after all he is firmly 100 per cent a servant of public service whose master is the listener. In his short tenure so far, he has tried to change the culture of the station he controls.

“While

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