Shows to defy BBC `gay' ban

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL BBC programmes to be broadcast today will defy or challenge the corporation's ban on mentioning the sexuality of Peter Mandelson.

The main controversy is likely to surround BBC 2's Have I Got News For You, made by HatTrick, the independent company, which was recorded last night and weaved references to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry through the show.

The comments were made in such a way as to make it impossible for the BBC to edit. After hours of wrangling the corporation agreed to broadcast it tonight. The ban will also be challenged in three Radio 4 programmes today, causing yet further embarrassment to the BBC. Jonathan Dimbleby, presenter of tonight's Any Questions programme on Radio 4, who has already registered his opposition to the ban in a letter to the BBC, yesterday acknowledged that if the memo is raised, he will allow it to be discussed on the programme. He will also appear on The Message, another Radio 4 programme, this afternoon to make clear his discontent at the ban. Meanwhile, Radio 4's review programme Feedback, has been given permission to break the ban this afternoon when it features three letters complaining about the BBC's clampdown.