I met Phil in 2006 in the lobby of Bush House in London. We’d been recruited as trainee Studio Managers and were about to be sent to the Beeb’s training centre, Wood Norton in Evesham, to learn how to manage studios. Presumably. We didn’t know exactly what to expect at the time.
What we should have expected was a man telling us that the women on the training course would be SMs ‘for a few years until you go off and have babies’, another who told us there was a dragon in the mixing desks (or was it a wizard?), and a collection of incredible people at the canteen who wore elaborate fancy dress every Friday, rain or shine, and committed to it with zeal, imagination and themed menus.
Phil wore the cheekiest of grins throughout. He simultaneously took it very seriously and found it tremendous fun. Which was more or less Phil’s approach to life. It was an excellent three weeks.
We trained and drank and argued and I had to rethink how I saw the world. Things I thought were funny were, in fact, sexist, racist and/or homophobic. Phil nudged me into a better way of thinking without judgement.
He was one of the few out, gay people I’d met. This also had a huge influence on my closeted 25-year-old self. I admired his confidence, his curiosity and his passion for all the things he was into.
Phil knew who he was, what he liked and didn’t at a young age. He had a solid kind of morality. He knew a lot about a lot of stuff. Classical music, economics, history and politics were in his wheelhouse but it was an extensive wheelhouse. This list doesn’t begin to cover it.
He loved Terry Pratchett, travelling and climbing. When I met him he had already toured with a youth orchestra and travelled the world. The photo was taken after someone had smuggled an ice-axe into Broadcasting House at Phil’s request.
He had a desk-globe at his flat which he topped with an Indiana-Jones-style hat. He was the sort of person you could arrange to meet in Red Square in a fortnight and he’d be there. Wearing the hat.
In 2014, Phil took a sabbatical from the BBC to go to the Banff Centre, to learn how they do audio engineering in Canada. He died in a car accident that December.
I don’t know what Phil would have gone on to do with his life, but I do feel a profound sense of loss for all the fields he could have made a difference to, and all the people who miss him.
Today is his birthday, so I thought I’d write down a few memories.
Do add yours below.