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Names emerge as the race begins to fill top jobs at BBC

LONDON - Names have begun to emerge as possible replacements for the jobs of BBC director-general and BBC chairman to replace Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies whose heads dramatically rolled this week in the wake of the Hutton Report.

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It has emerged that Dyke, whose resignation was announced at lunchtime yesterday, had never intended to stand down.

He tendered his resignation to the BBC board of governors whom he expected to reject it, but the governors voted two to one to accept it, putting Dyke out of a job and sending thousands of BBC staff out of their offices to protest his departure.

Dyke told BBC staff at their central London headquarters: "I don't want to go. But if in the end you screw up you have to go."

Dyke's job is perhaps the biggest in the British television industry. The person who takes it will be tasked with running an organisation that receives £2.5bn from the licence fee, while its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, brings in a further £700m.

The possible candidates to emerge for the director-general's post, a decision made by the board of governors, are all familiar names and they include:

Mark Byford

Byford, 45, was only appointed to the new role of deputy director-general in December. He is a BBC man through and through and has worked at the corporation for 24 years, joining as a graduate trainee. However, he is not seen as a dynamic character and outsider for the top job.

Mark Thompson

Thompson, 45, is the chief executive at Channel 4 and spent 20 years at the BBC before jumping ship to take the top job at Channel 4 in 2001. Before he left he was seen as a potential future director-general. He was once famously described by former BBC World Service managing director John Tusa as "Rodney to Greg Dyke's Del Boy".

Lorraine Heggessey

Heggessey is the controller of the BBC's flagship station BBC One and is seen as a strong contender for director-general's job. The 46-year-old stands credited with helping to restore BBC One in the fight against ITV1. She has brought in quality drama and more popular programming.

Jenny Abramsky

Abramsky, 54, heads up BBC Radio and Music and in her favour she has a strong background at the BBC in news, which could give her an important edge in the post-Hutton world, where the BBC's editorial standards were called into question. Prior to her current job she headed up the BBC's Continuous News department and was responsible for the launch of BBC News 24. She is another long-time staffer having joined the corporation in 1969.

It is the government that will be put in the delicate position of choosing the next chairman of the BBC and it already had a number of big-hitting names to contend with. Commentators are clear on one thing: any candidates in the running for this job are unlikely to have ties with New Labour as both Davies and Dyke did.

Baroness Jay

Baroness Jay of Paddington, 64, was a contender for the job last time around and would be a controversial appointment because she has close ties to the Labour Party. The government is likely to want to shy away from any controversial appointment. Besides, it has already tried appointing one New Labour supporter as chairman and the results were not encouraging.

Jay became leader of the Lords in the 1998 Cabinet reshuffle and has worked at the BBC in a number of roles in the past including as a reporter on 'Panorama'.

David Dimbleby

Dimbleby is another former candidate for the chairman's job who lost out last time. Dimbleby, the long-time broadcaster and former newspaper proprietor, currently presents the political programme 'Question Time', could have an advantage over some candidates because he has always guarded the secrecy of his political leanings. He is the son of British TV presenter, Richard Dimbleby, and brother of broadcaster Jonathan. During his career he has worked as a reporter for and presenter of 'Panorama'.

Patricia Hodgson

Hodgson, 56, is the former chief executive of the Independent Television Commission, which was up swallowed by Ofcom. She is highly rated and is a former head of planning and policy at the BBC under its former director-general Lord Birt.

Michael Portillo

Portillo, who stands down as a Conservative MP at the next election is a former defence minister under Margaret Thatcher and was for a long time seen as a future leader of the Tories. However, he lost his zest for politics and has seen his profile and popularity rise. He has called for the BBC to remain "editorially independent" and "not be frightened of the government".

Sir Max Hastings

Sir Max, a former Daily Telegraph editor from 1986 to 1995 and editor of the Evening Standard until 2002, came out in staunch defence of the BBC this week in the most unlikely of places, the Daily Mail, in which he has a weekly column. Since leaving the Standard he had devoted himself time to full-time writing. Hastings first made his name during the Falklands War in 1982 when he became the first British journalist to walk into the liberated capital Port Stanley. He returned to the islands recently as part of a Channel 4 documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of Britain's victory over Argentina.

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