Popular TV newsreader Rose Neill last night spoke of her sadness after it emerged she has left the BBC.
The experienced anchorwoman, who has been employed by the BBC for almost 24 years, will not be appearing on our screens anymore and is said to be pursuing new projects.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph at her Co Down home yesterday evening, she declined to explain the reason for her departure, but added: “I’m very, very sad but it is by mutual agreement.”
Staff at Broadcasting House were only told of her departure yesterday.
It is understood bosses did not renew the presenter’s contract last year.
According to sources, her departure comes after former GMTV newsreader Lindsay Armstrong was recently employed by the broadcaster.
Rose has worked for the BBC for more than 20 years and was, for many years, the face of BBC Northern Ireland’s flagship programme, Newsline, until she was dropped from the prime post in 2002.
At the time the move was said to have shocked colleagues who were said to be furious that she was ousted from the position she held for four years.
The broadcaster was then shifted to presenting BBC Newsline weekend bulletins as well as the 10.25pm evening slot.
Last night a BBC spokeswoman confirmed the popular presenter had left the corporation but would not elaborate on whether she had resigned, saying it was not in a position to discuss individual staff contracts.
“Rose has been with BBC Northern Ireland presenting across radio and television for over 20 years,” she said. “She is moving on to pursue other projects and we wish her every success for the future.”
The departure of Rose now means there is not one female presenter on Newsline aged over 42.
Last year, the BBC came under fire from MPs and powerful broadcasting figures over the departure of former Sunday AM presenter Moira Stuart.
The national broadcaster was accused of “shuffling an older woman off the screen”.
Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman described the decision to end her 20-year newsreading career as “strange” and questioned what the corporation had gained by “getting rid of her”.
David Dimbleby accused the BBC of making decisions based on “change for the sake of change” rather than “common sense”.
Sir David Frost, Terry Wogan, Michael Parkinson, Rory Bremner, Joanna Trollope, Esther Rantzen, John Humphrys and virtually anyone else not on holiday joined the list of Stuart's defenders.
The Daily Mail even launched a campaign to save her and by the end of the week the BBC had changed tack, suggesting that Stuart (55), was in talks about another newsreading job, possibly on digital TV.