`Big Breakfast' boss to be a Lord

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THE man behind Planet 24 Television, the company that makes The Big Breakfast, is expected to become Britain's youngest life peer this week.

Waheed Alli, 34, one of the country's most successful young Asian businessmen, is a Labour Party backer with close links to the New Labour hierarchy.

His elevation is due to be announced on Friday in a list of political honours thought to include Melvyn Bragg, the television and radio presenter, and - as a result of Conservative nomination - Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Alli left school at 16, and worked for Robert Maxwell's publishing empire and in the city before joining Planet 24. His break came when his proposal for The Big Breakfast beat off 31 others to win the contract with Channel 4.

Now a multi-millionaire, he co-owns Planet 24 with Bob Geldof and Charlie Parsons.

Labour will not seek to hide the partisan element in the elevation, which will come as part of the political honours. Mr Alli not only sits on the government's Panel 2000, which advises ministers about "rebranding" Britain, but has helped make party political broadcasts for Labour.

The peerage will be welcomed by many as evidence of Tony Blair's willingness to reward the contribution made by figures from the ethnic minorities.

However, critics may see it as further evidence of the party's incestuous links with the media and its obsession with image and presentation.

Rex meets Norman, page 28