BBC and George Entwistle: Kevin Marsh and David Mellor

Former National Heritage Secretary David Mellor claimed the BBC may still have a late evening news show but added: "I don't see how Newsnight as a brand can really survive this."

He said the idea of Lord McAlpine being involved in child abuse was "ludicrous" and that outgoing Director-General George Entwistle had "the leadership qualities of Winnie the Pooh".

And the ex-MP said his former colleague Chris Patten, who is now Chairman of the BBC Trust, should not be given the chance to appoint a new Director-General.

He debated the BBC's problems with Kevin Marsh, who has edited Today and other Radio 4 news programmes.

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