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Royal Opera chief set to take over at BBC

Such was the rejoicing that greeted the appointment of Tony Hall as the new Director-General of the BBC yesterday that one could not help by wonder why the Royal Opera House chief executive had not been appointed before.

The BBC Trust, which selected Lord Hall just 12 days after the resignation of his ill-fated predecessor George Entwistle and without advertising the position, said that its decision had been "unanimous" and that no other candidates had been approached.

Lord Patten, the chairman of the Trust, faced questions as to why Lord Hall, pictured, a highly-regarded former BBC news chief, had not been selected earlier this year rather than Mr Entwistle, who held the post for just 54 days before stepping aside amid the furore over the Lord McAlpine and Jimmy Savile scandals.

Lord Patten said Lord Hall, 61, who was also overseeing the Cultural Olympiad as part of London 2012, had considered that his age was against him. "He said he'd loved his time at the BBC but maybe a younger person should do the job... Clearly by this November things had changed substantially."

Lord Hall's appointment was applauded by senior BBC figures who remember him as the man who launched key services such as Radio 5 Live, 24-hour television news and BBC News Online. The new D-G will actually take up his post in March as he turns 62.