New BPI Job Goes To A Womble

The newly created post of British Phonographic Industry deputy chairman has gone to Mike Batt, the man who turned The Wombles from furry characters in Elizabeth Beresford books to chart-topping pop stars.

Apart from being the singer/songwriter/producer of the animated, environmentally friendly creatures from Wimbledon Common – who did manage eight hit singles and four gold albums – he’s also carved out an impressive, multi-faceted career creating some major works and successfully developing new talent.

"The Wombles have always been a very mixed blessing for me," Batt says on his own Web site.

He said it annoyed him because "a certain element of the press thought I was a lightweight," but he did say he "enjoyed being Orinoco."

After he stopped hanging around with Great Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory and Bungo, Batt has gone on to win five Ivor Novello Awards, write and produce a string of hits and commissioned pieces, and helped fashion the careers of acts including Vanessa Mae and Katie Melua.

He arranged and produced Melua’s Call Off The Search album and wrote six tracks on it. He also put it out under his own Dramatico independent label imprint.

The BPI created the new role as part of a restructuring that’s seen the departure of chairman Peter Jamieson and a return to the old system that had the organisation being run by a non-executive chairman and a full-time chief exec.

EMI U.K. chief exec Tony Wadsworth and former BPI and IFPI general counsel Geoff Taylor took up those posts at the end of February.

Batt completes what will now be a three-way senior management team. The BPI Council elected him to the non-executive role two weeks ago, a job he takes with immediate effect.

Another change resulting from the BPI shakeup is the departure of communications and development director Steve Redmond.

"Peter and I worked very closely together over the past four years and his departure is a good point for me to move on to something new," he said in a BPI statement.