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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
BBC defends boss over Frostrup
BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey last week
Lorraine Heggessey was not involved in Frostrup's appointment
The BBC has defended new BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey after a newspaper said she had criticised Mariella Frostrup, who is to present a Panorama special later this year.

The corporation confirmed on Thursday it had signed up Frostrup to host a one-off investigation into reality TV shows such as Big Brother.

But Ms Heggessey was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as calling the idea "a joke" - hours before Frostrup's appointment was announced.

Mariella Frostrup
Mariella Frostrup: Film critic and Booker prize judge
A BBC spokeswoman said Ms Heggessey was referring to a the idea of appointing Mariella Frostrup as a "permanent" reporter.

Ms Heggessey told the Daily Telegraph: "Mariella's a very talented broadcaster but I'm not sure she'd be right for Panorama.

"I don't know if anyone really did suggest it. But if they did, it was probably said as a joke."

She added: "The presenter should always be someone with serious journalistic credentials."

A BBC spokeswoman said the decision to hire Frostrup was made before Ms Heggessey, whose move to BBC One was announced last week, was part of editorial discussions.

Big Brother trio Craig, Darren and Anna
Panorama examines the Big Brother phenomenon
"Lorraine was asked whether Mariella was someone the BBC would think of lining up as a permanent Panorama reporter.

"She rightly replied that Mariella did not have the right journalistic credentials."

She added: "Had she been asked whether Mariella would be suitable for a one-off programme about reality TV, for which she is well suited, then she might have thought it a really good idea."

However, Telegraph media correspondent Tom Leonard, who conducted the interview, denied the remarks had been taken out of context.

He said: "I made no mention of the word 'permanent'. Lorraine Heggessey appeared to know the rumours that were being referred to.

"I have offered to play the tape of the interview back to the BBC but they have declined."

The BBC has previously used guest presenters on current affairs programmes.

As well as presenting a chat show and film review programme Frostrup is a former judge of the Booker literature prize.

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See also:

21 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Panorama with Frostrup
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