James started his career in adult education working as an extra-mural lecturer for the WEA and for Glasgow University. He also worked for four years as a lecturer in what is now Glasgow Caledonian University. He joined the BBC in 1975 as an adult education officer working on adult literacy and then on intellectual handicap. He became a radio producer and eventually eventually Head of BBC Radio Scotland winning the Sony title UK Station of the Year for the network.
As Controller BBC Radio 4 he reformed the network producing with his team an entirely new schedule. The new programmes subsequently won a record 6 gold Sony awards in one year and eight other silver and bronze awards. . His public service posts include Chair of the Scottish Arts Council, Chair of the Scottish Cultural Commission, founder-Chair of Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature and founder of Glasgow UNESCO City of Music
James has also held non-executive directorships in the private sector, including a current interest in Franklin Rae Communications. He is a member of Court at Edinburgh Napier University and Chair of the British Council Scotland. He has three honorary doctorates.
James is married with three sons and three grandsons.
"What makes these sessions much more stimulating than most seminars is the sharp, often challenging contributions from the audience so that you have a real debate, not just a platform presentation."
Richard Donkin, independent journalist and author