Samir Shah is a British (of Indian origin) journalist and TV and radio host. He is the Chairman of BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). He is the owner, CEO, and creative director of Juniper TV Limited.
- 1 Wiki/Biography
- 2 Physical Appearance
- 3 Family
- 4 Religion
- 5 Career
- 6 Controversies
- 7 Awards, Honours, Achievements
- 8 Salary
Samir Shah CBE (the title CBE denotes Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) was born on Tuesday, 29 January 1952 (age 72 years; as of 2024) in Aurangabad (renamed as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar in 2023), Maharashtra, India. His zodiac sign is Aquarius. Samir studied at the Latymer Upper School in West London, England. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Hull (formerly, University College Hull) in England. In 1979, he received a DPhil in Anthropology and Geography from St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. His thesis was on the “Aspects of the geographic analysis of Asian immigrants in London”.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Brown
In 1960, Samir Shah and his family moved from India to England.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Amrit Shah. His mother’s name is Uma Bakaya, a mathematician. Amrit and Uma broke their marriage after moving to England, and Uma married Madan Bakaya. Madan is Shah’s stepfather and worked as a production manager in Bollywood. Shah has an elder sister, Monisha Shah, who was Director of Emerging Markets at BBC Worldwide.
He has a stepbrother named Mohit Bakaya, who is Shah’s mother’s son with Madan. Mohit is a radio producer and controller of BBC Radio 4.
Wife & Children
Samir is married to Belkis. She is a major shareholder of Juniper TV. The couple have a son.
Samir Shah followed Jainism when he was in India. Later, in England, he converted to Islam to marry his wife, Belkis.
Shah joined the London Weekend Television in 1979 as a researcher. Here, he worked with influential people like John Brit and Micheal Wills. In 1987 he was appointed as BBC’s (British Broadcasting Corporation) head of television current affairs. From 1994 to 1998, he was appointed as the head of political journalism programmes at BBC. In 1998, he left BBC and stated that the reason behind this was connected to an executives’ residential course at the London Business School, University of London. Shah returned to BBC. From 2007 to 2010, he served as the BBC board’s non-executive director.
While BBC is politically independent, the government of the UK is in charge of appointing the BBC Chair. In December 2023, the Culture Secretary from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced Shah to be the government’s choice for BBC Chair.
Culture Secretary @LucyFrazerMP has announced Dr Samir Shah CBE as Government’s preferred candidate for the BBC Chair
The Culture Secretary also thanked Dame Elan Closs Stephens for her work as Acting Chair
Find out more: https://t.co/48VVxfVo0Q pic.twitter.com/nsU5xXjeKq
— Department for Culture, Media and Sport (@DCMS) December 6, 2023
In response to his nomination, Shah put out an announcement in which he said,
If I am able to put what skills, experience, and understanding of public service broadcasting I have built up during my career to help this brilliant organisation meet the complex and diverse challenges it faces over the coming years, it would be an honour.”
Before his appointment, Shah attended a “pre-appointment scrutiny” (a hearing) with MPs from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. At the pre-appointment scrutiny, a few MPs put out a statement criticising Shah’s ability to be the Chair of BBC. The media committee of the House of Commons put out a statement saying Shah was “appointable as Chair”. As Chair, Shah has to work for 3-4 days a week.
One responsibility that Samir Shah holds as BBC Chair is dealing with the renewal of BBC’s charter in 2027.
Samir Shah bought Juniper TV Ltd., a commercial production company, from Micheal Wills whom he used to work with in London Weekend Television. He did this after leaving BBC in 1998 and after Micheal Wills was appointed as a Member of Parliament. Shah is the CEO and creative director of Juniper TV, which is an independent TV and radio production company. Juniper TV puts out documentaries and current affairs programmes. The programmes put out by Juniper are screened on various media platforms including the BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, Discovery, TLC, and Netflix.
Samir Shah has worked as a writer, producer, and executive producer for documentaries and television series. He wrote the drama documentary named “Theresa vs. Boris: How May Became PM” (2017).
He was the producer for five episodes of the TV series “Eastern Eye” (1982 to 1985). He has been the executive producer of programmes such as “Thatcher: The Downing Street Years” (1993), “Fire, Plague, War and Treason” (2001), “The Great British Black Invasion” (2006), “Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success” (2015), and “This Week” (2019).
Samir Shah co-authored the UK government’s report on the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in 2021. The UK government ordered the report to be made in light of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. According to the report, there was no institutional racism in the UK.
Positions of Responsibility
Samir Shah was the Chairman of the Runnymede Trust from 1999–2009. He was the trustee (2005-2014) and Deputy Chairman (2012-14) of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From 2006 to 2017, Shah was a special professor in the Post Conflict Studies department at the University of Nottingham, England. From 2014 to 2022, he served as the Chairman of the Museum of the Home in London. In 2019, Shah was a visiting professor (faculty of English) of Creative Media at the University of Oxford. He was a board member of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and a commissioner on the HMG Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. In 2014, Shah joined as a member of the PM Holocaust Commission for one year. He was a member of the Cultural Recovery Board from 2020–21 and the Heritage Advisory Board in 2020. In 2020, he also became Chair of the trustee board for One World Media. In 2021, he was a Future of Public Service Broadcasting member.
Criticism Over Being Chosen As BBC Chair
When Samir Shah was announced as the government’s preferred candidate for BBC chair, Members of Parliament (House of Commons) mentioned their reservations about his appointment. At Shah’s pre-appointment scrutiny, the MPs submitted a report stating that they doubted Shah’s ability to “provide robust challenge to its leadership”. Here, leadership refers to the executive leaders at BBC. They stated that Shah did not showcase the strength and character required to question BBC’s executive leadership. In the report submitted by the MPs, they stated that they were,
disappointed that Dr Shah was not willing to express a view on fundamental principles, such as board-level interference in the BBC and other bodies and on political impartiality.”
The MPs demanded that Shah needed to address BBC’s pressing issues and provide better answers for how he would deal with such issues. They said.
It is now for the government to consider whether to go ahead with the appointment. If they decide to proceed, we expect Dr Shah to appear before us in the new year to demonstrate he has addressed our concerns.”
Shah also received negative comments from internet users who criticised him for allegedly working for and having connections with the ruling Conservative party. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport supported Shah and stated that he was suited for the role due to his extensive experience in TV production and journalism.
“What British Muslims Really Think” Documentary
In 2016, Shah was the executive producer of a documentary made under Juniper TV named “What British Muslims Really Think”. Trevor Phillips hosted the documentary which received over 200 complaints. The documentary claimed to present a thorough survey of British Muslims’ views. It faced controversy for commissioning a poll indicating that more than half of British Muslims believe homosexuality should be illegal. Ofcom (UK’s Office of Communications) received 89 complaints, and Channel 4 reported receiving around 130 complaints and 20 messages supportive of the program. People stated their concern over misinformation and the potential to fuel Islamophobia.
People also criticised the documentary’s surveying methods and the areas in Britain that were surveyed. A Guardian panel of British Muslims criticized the show as “boring, inaccurate, and sensationalist” and stated that their method was “problematic.” Ofcom was in charge of assessing the complaints before deciding on a full investigation. Channel 4 put out a statement where they defended the programme’s integrity, and stated that they were committed to representing the minority’s views with responsibility. Shah refused to give any statement on the controversy.
The Commission On Race And Ethnic Disparities
In 2021, Samir Shah, a part of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, co-authored a report with the UK government. Several activists, organisations, and people on the internet strongly criticised the findings of the report. According to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the report denied the existence of institutional racism, disregarded complex race analyses, and discredited data on racism. The report also gave an inaccurate history of slavery and ignored the UK’s racial inequality. The report was also criticised for normalising white supremacy. Shah defended the report during a BBC interview.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Samir Shah was appointed OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1999, “for services to equal opportunities in broadcasting”.
- In 2002, Samir Shah was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society.
- For his services to television and heritage, Queen Elizabeth II presented Samir Shah with the CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2019.
- For providing his services for over 40 years and his commitment towards diversity in the TV industry, Samir Shah received the Outstanding Contribution Award from the Royal Television Society in 2022.
Samir Shah’s salary as BBC Chair is £ 1,60,000 per annum.