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The stars have come out in force to defend the BBC against government criticism.
Describing the corporation as a "very precious institution", they have warned the Prime Minister that "a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain".
They are joined by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding, Claudia Winkleman, Graham Norton, Chris Evans, Professor Brian Cox, Stephen Fry, Michael Palin, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Adil Ray, Jamie Oliver, Clara Amfo, Nick Grimshaw, Trevor Nelson, Annie Nightingale and Reggie Yates.
The letter reads: "The Government and the BBC are now entering the Charter Review. We »
The wage bill for BBC television presenters earning more than £1m went up by 22% last year, as spending and staff numbers rose despite years of cost-cutting at the corporation.
Three or four of the BBC’s highest-paid stars, likely to include Gary Lineker, Graham Norton and Jeremy Clarkson, shared a total of £5.1m in the year to March 2014. In the previous year, the BBC spent £4.2m on presenters earning between £1m and £5m.
Related: BBC fights back against Tory assault on 'waste' and right to make popular shows
Related: The battle for the BBC | Charlotte Higgins
Related: Friends of the BBC will oppose the government’s vicious attacks | Letters
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- Jane Martinson Media editor
Annual report shows BBC’s three or four best-paid presenters shared £5.1mStaff numbers rose by 1.7% to 18,974Bbc Worldwide’s headline profits fall 11.9% to £138.6m Tony Hall: public and producers reject ‘much-diminished’ corporationRona Fairhead: ‘There are likely to be scope cuts’
The wage bill for television presenters earning more than £1m went up by 22% last year at the BBC, which paid a total of £5.1m to a handful of stars likely to have included Jeremy Clarkson, Gary Lineker and Graham Norton.
Despite cost cuts set to save a total of £1.5bn by the end of next year, the BBC’s annual report published on Tuesday showed that total talent spend rose 7% to £208m, some 12% of the BBC total expenditure on content.
Related: BBC told to do more to put women and ethnic minorities on screen
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- Jane Martinson and John Plunkett
Gary Lineker has set up his own television production company. The former footballer has revealed his company, Goalhanger Films, have already started producing sport documentaries for networks in the United Kingdom and all over the world. He said: ''I've always wanted to get involved in production and hopefully we can make some programmes that people enjoy. ''We've got one or two ideas in development that might appeal to both UK and international audiences, all with a sport focus, but not exclusively football.'' And Gary hasn't gone into producing alone, getting support from former ITV Sport controller Tony Pastor. Tony added: ''Gary's always been interested in »
He will top a small group of high earners at the BBC understood to include TV presenters Graham Norton, Gary Lineker and Fiona Bruce. Jeremy Clarkson was in that elite group until being dropped by the BBC from Top Gear following an attack on a producer.
To save you spending your hard earned cash on speculative wagers. There is no one on any short list yet to ... http://t.co/b0iqTQxplB
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- Jane Martinson and John Plunkett
The broadcaster’s TV and sport managing director on sharing a stage with Gary Lineker on her birthday, the Champions League, and whether she has plans for drama
Turning 43 was, perhaps, more joyous for Delia Bushell than for most people. “My birthday was the day of our big press launch,” says Bushell. Then she adds: “Nothing better than sharing your birthday with Gary Lineker on stage.”
As managing director of TV and sport for BT, Bushell is Lineker’s new boss. He is BT’s biggest on-screen signing so far, as the phone company turned pay-tv insurgent parks ever more tanks on Sky’s premium-sports lawn. The hoopla heralded Lineker as co-presenter of live Uefa Champions League, to which BT has exclusive rights for the next three seasons – having poached them from ITV and Sky in an eye-watering £897m deal. “What we are looking for is a really stellar A-list presenting lineup, »
- Neil Midgley
Director: Jane Preston
Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne was born and raised in Newcastle, one of the UK’s most passionate football cities, and my memories of Gazza come from the mid-1990s and in particular Euro 1996 where he shone on the European and World Stage. Prior to this, Gascoigne had really come to the forefront of football at Italia 90 and although England went out in the semi-finals, his tears of heartfelt disappointment connected him to the entire population and things changed quickly as celebrity took over.
Gascoigne, as a documentary, is perhaps more catered for a sport-loving audience but this doesn’t mean that Gazza’s story isn’t an interesting one but here director Jane Preston focuses less on his troubles with alcoholism and more on the man, »
- Dan Bullock
Gary Lineker has joined BT Sport.
There has been much speculation about the presenter's future with the BBC, but it has now been confirmed that he has signed a new non-exclusive deal with the corporation, allowing him to present for both broadcasters.
He tweeted: "Thrilled to tell you, I'll be presenting @ChampionsLeague football next season on @btsport."
The retired footballer's new deal with the BBC has ensured that he will remain on Match of the Day and other programmes until at least 2020.
It has been reported that Lineker agreed a BBC pay-cut to allow him to present for BT Sport alongside his current commitments.
Your @btsport #ChampionsLeague presenters. Between us we scored 48 goals for England... pic.twitter.com/aM1bOJ2ng7
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) June 9, 2015
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, »
At the heart of Gascoigne is a difficult subject, but an irresistible one: a wayward genius, wounded and definitively vulnerable. In football, it’s also an age-old story thanks to the vortex created at the end of playing careers, when the irreplaceable thrill of adulation makes way for a vacuum that must be filled by something else.
For Gazza, the vacuum was filled with the same kind of self-destruction that made him such a commodity for the media in his playing days. He was never one for restraint: and just as that led to some of his more notorious and controversial moments on the pitch (his catastrophic knee injury, his infamous celebrations…) it also gave rise to some of the most famous stories about the amiable Geordie.
As Gascoigne is pretty quick to establish, not only are most of the wildest and worst things you’ve heard about Gazza true, »
- Simon Gallagher
Gary Lineker will remain on the BBC for at least another five years.
The former England and Spurs striker has signed a new deal with the corporation that will keep him hosting Match of the Day and Sports Personality of the Year among other programmes until 2020.
"I'm thrilled that my relationship with the BBC has been renewed and that I will continue to present Match of the Day, Fa Cup, major football tournaments and Sports Personality of the Year. I'm already looking forward to getting the 2015-16 season underway," Lineker said.
Philip Bernie, head of TV sport, added: "We are delighted that Gary will continue to front the country's favourite football programme on the BBC, as well as leading our live football coverage.
"He is the outstanding football presenter of his generation, combining great authority from his very distinguished playing career with wonderful broadcasting instincts and sharpness - making him a true star performer. »
Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne’s story is a sad one for most of us football fans who remember the midfielder’s incredible talent. He’s also been privy to the tabloid media covering his every addiction move and although some have tried to help as well, Gazza’s alcoholism continued as he battle to find that thrill he once received during his professional career.
Directed and written by BAFTA award-winner Jane Preston, Gascoigne is a feature film told by the man himself and promises to open up his story and with his involvement, it sounds like a positive process. As we get to the 25th Anniversary of the Italia ’90 World Cup, Gascoigne will screen in cinemas for one night only on 8th June, at 158 sites nationwide with a live Q&A from panellists Stuart Pearce, Henry Winter, Pete Davies and Paul Gascoigne.
Purchase tickets to the Gala premiere + Live Q&A »
- Dan Bullock
Gary Lineker will reportedly sign a new non-exclusive contract with the BBC, after agreeing terms allowing him to front BT Sport's Champions League coverage.
The Match of the Day host's future with the public broadcaster had been the subject of some speculation, with reports earlier this year that he was having serious discussions with BT Sport.
A BT spokesperson told Digital Spy: "BT doesn't comment on rumour and speculation."
However, the Daily Telegraph says that Lineker has now agreed to take a pay-cut in his new deal with the BBC, where he is expected to continue fronting football coverage.
BT Sport is scheduled to unveil its talent line-up for the 2015/16 season next week, but earlier today confirmed that Jake Humphrey has signed a new four-year deal.
As part of the new contract, Humphrey's role has been expanded to include anchoring the pay-tv channel's coverage of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games. »
It will mean a great footballing insight into a week which has seen the emergence of a major corruption investigation into FIFA officials.
The Match of the Day host tweeted he was "nervous" ahead of the recording today (Thursday, May 28) but hoped to bring some expertise to the story.
Presenting #Hignfy for the first time. Recording this evening. A little nervous. I just wish there were some football stories in the news.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 28, 2015
Seven FIFA officials were arrested in dawn raids yesterday at a luxury Swiss hotel as FBI investigators indicted them on fraud, money laundering and racketeering charges.
Lineker has also tweeted his views on the scandal:
There can't be a more corrupt, deplorable organisation on earth than FIFA. The house of cards is falling. Time for change! »
Prince William spoke about two things he can't get enough of in his first broadcast interview since the birth of his daughter, Princess Charlotte—soccer and Prince George. The Duke of Cambridge, who is an avid supporter of Aston Villa, opened up to Gary Lineker for the Fa Cup Final on the BBC about whether the world can expect to see both father and son attending a game anytime in the near future. "I don't know," he replied hesitantly. "I'll have to pass that by the missus, see how I can get away with it. At the moment, being on 22 months, it's a little bit early." William also mentioned that while he'd love it if George ended up rooting for the same team as him, he »
UK TV ratings roundup - data supplied by Barb
Britain's Got Talent continued to dominate the ratings on Tuesday (May 26), but around 750,000 viewers tuned out night-on-night for the second semi-final on ITV.
The second live show of the 2015 series brought in 7.79m (36.8%) between 7.30pm and 9pm, while a further 393,000 (1.8%) watched on +1. Monday's first semi-final attracted an overnight audience of 8.56m for the live performances.
Later, the live results were seen by 6.57m (31.1%) at 9.30pm (289k/2.1%).
On BBC Two, A Cook Abroad continued with 790k (4.3%) at 7pm, before Springwatch interested 1.89m (8.6%) at 8pm, and Joan of Arc: God's Warrior fascinated 1.32m (6.2%) at 9pm.
The women detectives continue to steal the show in No Offence, Muse go for all-out destruction on Jools Holland and Gary Lineker welcomes the Fa Cup back to the Beeb. Plus the incredible history of Joan of Arc and the best live sport
We’re at the halfway point in Paul Abbott’s smart cop drama and tonight the Friday Street law enforcers are on the trail of a gang conning the hard-up into selling their kidneys on the black market. The female leads utterly make this, giving Abbott’s zappy dialogue true heart and humanity. That said, if we could just pop a moratorium on dead-girl victims in all TV drama for a year, that would be great. The unending parade of throttled, hacked women in canals – continued here – needs to stop. Julia Raeside
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- Julia Raeside, Hannah J Davies, Jack Seale, Rachel Aroesti, Jonathan Wright and Ali Catterall
If you're not that into football, you might want to avoid BBC channels on Saturday, May 30.
The BBC has announced plans to devote a whole day to Fa Cup final coverage, bringing back its tradition of dedicated programming for the football event.
Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television, said: "The BBC has delivered so much unique Fa Cup programming to audiences since its return to BBC TV this season, it's only fitting to end the competition on such a high."
The full list of highlights is as follows:
BBC Breakfast (6.30am - 10am, BBC One)
Ahead of its release next month, distributor eOne has released a trailer for the upcoming documentary Gascoigne, which presents the definitive story of troubled midfield genius Paul Gascoigne and delves into the rollercoaster of highs and lows of both his career and his life after football. Check it out below after the official synopsis…
The Italia ’90 World Cup was a renaissance for English football, watched by millions of people across the UK. Its leading figure was the young Paul Gascoigne – a player who had come to prominence with his hometown club Newcastle United and who now, upon England’s semi-final exit, captured the hearts of the nation.
Gascoigne returned home to a hero’s welcome and became a superstar of international football. With his irrepressible spirit and extraordinary skills he was for a generation of players and fans the most captivating footballer they had ever seen.
Gascoigne is the definitive »
- Gary Collinson
A documentary charting the life of 1990s football icon Paul Gascoigne is coming.
From the emergence of his childhood talent to his highly publicised struggle with alcoholism, it features interview snippets from peers (Gary Lineker), admiring fans (Wayne Rooney) and coaching experts (Jose Mourinho).
Alongside archive footage and tabloid headlines, the former England ace also tells his side of the story and reflects on his journey to superstardom.
Gascoigne will be released in cinemas for one night only on Monday, June 8.
It will then be available on Blu-ray, DVD and to download a week later on June 15. »
It was a starry night at the 5th Asian Awards courtesy of some of the biggest talents on the planet, who were recognised for setting an unprecedented standard of excellence in their fields of endeavour.
Celebrating Asian success across all walks of life, the event saw the best of stage, screen, sport, music and industry, converge on the lavish setting of the Grosvenor House Hotel, for a night of highly merited back-slapping and champagne-swilling.
Of course, all eyes were on the two star attractions whose rise to fame has been nothing less than stratospheric. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan flew in to personally collect his award, while ex-One Direction bandmate Zayn Malik made his first public appearance since the now infamous split that left Directioners around the world in a state of mourning.
It was difficult to determine who the hoards of fans gathered outside the Park Lane hotel were screaming for, »
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