BBC tell Angus: off

Deayton axed over tabloid claims

Angus Deayton has been dropped from Have I Got News For You after a series of damaging newspaper stories about his private life.

He will be axed from this week, with Paul Merton temporarily taking over his role.

A BBC statement said: "It was felt by all concerned that continued stories about Angus's private life made him the subject of headlines, rather than commentating on them, and made his position as host of the topical satire programme untenable."

Deayton said in a statement: "I'm very sorry to have been forced to leave a show that I've enjoyed immensely and has been part of my life for the past 12 years.

"I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity of working with Paul and Ian, whose talents will ensure that the show will continue entertaining millions each week.

"I sincerely wish the show well in the future and look forward to watching this Friday's episode - from behind the sofa."

The corporation is now on the look-out for a replacement for Deayton, with names including Stephen Fry and outgoing ITN political editor John Sergeant in the frame.

The 45-year-old presenter's sex life first hit the headlines in May, but he weathered the storm, and a couple of uncomfortable instalments of show.

But renewed pressure from newspapers making fresh allegations finally forced the BBC to axed, even though the reports have not dented the show's ratings - 6.3million at the last count.

However, it's thought the BBC has not ruled out using Deayton, one of its biggest stars, for future programmes.

He is already known for one-offs such as Before They Were Famous and Not Another Eurovision Song Contest.

Published: 30 Oct 2002

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