Lottery stays on a losing streak

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The Independent Online
THE ILL-STARRED run-up to the launch of the National Lottery continued yesterday as the BBC announced that two lesser-known celebrities would present the weekly televised draw and the Millennium Commission, which will distribute pounds 1.6bn of lottery proceeds, went back to square one in looking for a chief executive.

Noel Edmonds will present only the first lottery show, on 19 November, because he and other celebrities, including Terry Wogan and Bruce Forsyth, are understood to have been unhappy about presenting the show regularly.

Anthea Turner, a former presenter on Blue Peter, currently with GMTV, will host the draws with Gordon Kennedy, who appeared in the Channel 4 comedy Absolutely.

The BBC won the contract with Camelot, the consortium organising the lottery, but neither side would say yesterday how much it was worth. Nor would Alan Yentob, head of BBC1, say how long the programme would be or what time it would be broadcast.

Top presenters are understood to have been loath to become involved, as the show will involve drawing the winning numbers but not presenting a cheque, because as the draw is live, the winner will still be unknown, which limits the excitement.

The Millennium Commission will advertise for a new chief executive at a salary of pounds 76,000 later this week following the dismissal of Nicholas Hinton by the National Heritage Secretary, Stephen Dorrell.

Yesterday, Heather Wilkinson, a career civil servant, was running the commission as acting director on secondment from the Department of National Heritage. She is understood to be unlikely to apply for the post, which the Government hopes to fill within a few weeks.

While Ms Wilkinson does the job, she will be earning between pounds 30,000 and pounds 40,000 as a grade 7 civil servant.

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