DG of the Beeb? We round up the unusual suspects

Prince Edward has made many TV programmes, though only about his own relations
SOON, IF all goes well, the hated dictator will be toppled from power, his state reign of terror will be ended and a new, more humane leader be found.

Yes, they're looking for a successor to John Birt as director-general of the BBC and today I am bringing you a list of the front runners for the position, together with their current odds, their qualities for the position and a brief statement from each candidate.

John Birt

A surprise candidate, but has considerable experience, ie has already been director-general. He has not been seen in public for several years and has never given interviews, so could easily resume the post incognito, as nobody is quite sure what he looks like any more. Thinks there is still much to do at the BBC - for instance, there are still good programme-makers who need to be eased out, and several more channels which could be devoted to news. Given another full term, he has pledged himself to eradicate programme-making altogether. (5/1)

General Pinochet

If appointed, would carry on the Birtian revolution, but more forcefully than John Birt, whom privately he considers to be a wimp. He would take no prisoners or, if he did, it would be "Bye bye, prisoners..." (100/1)

Melvyn Bragg

If Melvyn Bragg is appointed as the new director-general of the BBC, he pledges himself to allow people with title to take over Start the Week from Jeremy Paxman, which he would then do. He would also gets lots more science on the air, as it's jolly important. Also religion, which is jolly important, but in a different sort of way. Also Cumbrian novels written by jolly important modern writers. Also lots of arts and culture, which is really jolly important. (12/1)

Jeremy Isaacs

If appointed as director-general, he has pledged himself to go everywhere with a camera crew who would record every word and action of his, and put it out simultaneously on a new channel called DG Live. His motto: "What I did for opera, I can do for broadcasting." This fearsome threat may not be an idle one. (10/1)

Mohamed Al Fayed

Mr Fayed's main ambition in life, apart from sex and money, is to buy himself a chunk of British nationality, to which end he has purchased all the most British institutions he could think of, ie Princess Diana, Punch magazine, Harrods, etc, thinking that this would make him British by osmosis. As it has so far failed, he now wants to add the BBC to his list. If appointed, he will ban Kevin Keegan from appearing on TV. (200/1)

Prince Edward

Edward has made many TV programmes, though only about his own relations, and would like to branch out from the small company he has at the moment to something larger, so that he can make more varied programmes. His mother could easily afford to buy him the BBC as a wedding present, but she may feel uneasy about letting him be in charge of her Christmas broadcast to the nation. (500/1)

Salman Rushdie

It is not generally known that Salman Rushdie has spent the last three years living inside BBC-TV Centre in a small flat put at his disposal (which is how he was always available for so many discussions), and he now feels he has seen enough of the BBC at close hand to understand the way it works. If appointed, he has promised he will give up writing novels. (99/1)

Benjamin Zephaniah

If appointed Poet Laureate, Benjamin Zephaniah would be very interested in adding DG of the BBC to his portfolio, thus becoming the first rap media head in modern times. (1,000/1 outsider)

Roger McGough

If Roger McGough gets the job of director-general of the BBC, he would resign. (5,000/1)

Chris Patten

Chris Patten has got fed up being the King across the Water for the Tory party, and would like to run something else for a change. If appointed DG, he would move the headquarters of the BBC to France so he could take his dog to work. After 10 years, he would give the BBC back to the Chinese, and wait for Ann Widdecombe to resign as Tory leader. (2/1)

Other unfancied runners include David Mellor, Germaine Greer, Chris Evans, the late Philip Larkin, Peter Mandelson, etc, etc. Send for full list of candidates.

Comments