A biography of John Reith who founded and, for its first 14 years, directed the BBC, imbuing it with that Reithian ethos on which arguably it still runs, and establishing a model for public-service broadcasting all over the world. Reith's life was one of both tragic and baroque proportions. A product of Victorian Scottish morality, he stood monumentally for a world of absolutes and standards - of accent, of self-denial, of conduct and self-instruction. He harangued applicants for posts at the BBC with the sternness of his Presbyterian upbringing; he insisted female employees resign on marriage and dismissed male employees who divorced. Yet the great love of his life was not his long-suffering wife Muriel, but a man seven years younger than himself and in old age he had a series of passionate liaisons with much younger women. He was vain, self-absorbed and authoritarian, but he struggled with disappointment, depression, frustration and the faults in his character of which he was periodically aware.