BBC big dog Mark Thompson has told staff that he will step down next autumn, after the âamazing summer of 2012â?.
After almost eight years in the job, he has become the corporationâs longest serving director general since the 1970s.
In a message circulated to BBC staff yesterday, he said: âWeâve weathered a series of lively storms and been through some trying as well as some very successful times together.
âWhat has made my job not just bearable, but immensely enjoyable and rewarding, is all of you: your talent and energy, your unshakeable belief in the BBC and everything it stands for.â?
Thompson has been at the helm of the BBC throughout Radio 2âs Sachsgate scandal and a brutal round of budget cuts and redundancies.
He has also enjoyed great success with the likes of the Frozen Planet series, Strictly Come Dancing and has helped to secure the beebâs latest bid for talent show success, The Voice UK.
No specific date has been set for Thompsonâs departure but he advised BBC Chairman, Lord Chris Patten to âbegin the public process of finding the next DG as soon as they see fitâ?.
Thus ensues weeks of media speculation as to who will fill Thompsonâs shoes as the next director general.
The Telegraph has already published the opinions of former chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, who believes the BBC needs a female boss.
He said: âIt is important to have a DG who shows some proper empathy with members of the female audience. Thatâs something we could do with strengthening.
âIt would be great if the best candidate is a woman. I wouldnât want to compromise on the criteria [just to have a woman].â?
Helen Boaden, director of BBC News Group, has already emerged as a front runner for the role. One insider said: âPeople like her because she speaks her mind. Sheâs tough in areas like cost-cutting, but she also trusts her lieutenants and she has strong editorial judgment. Sheâs good at spotting and pre-empting problems.â?