BBC tries to gag Rosie's replacement

by MARK REYNOLDS, Daily Mail

BBC bosses attempted to gag reporter Robert Nisbet yesterday after it emerged he is effectively to replace Rosie Millard as six o'clock News entertainment broadcaster.

In scenes which descended from awkward to farcical, Nisbet - reporting in Cannes alongside Millard for the film festival - initially holed up in the BBC yacht after being told: 'Speak to no one'.

Shouting from the lower deck porthole, he said: 'They'll absolutely kill me if I say anything. The office have told me I can say absolutely nothing.'

However, later, speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail, the 32-year-old presenter of digital BBC Choice's Liquid News said stories of his impending appointment had placed him in a very difficult position, with him and Miss Millard covering the same event for another week for the BBC.

Lounging on the deck of the yacht hired by the BBC, Nisbet was clearly both embarrassed and upset.

The blond 6ft presenter said: 'It's such a delicate and awkward situation that it's hard to say anything. But what should be said is that Rosie has not been sacked. She is still the arts correspondent and I will just be joining the six o'clock team.

'This is all so bizarre, I can't believe it really. I'm just trying to nurse a hangover and get my head round it.'

As well as trying to gag the presenter with a constant stream of calls to his mobile phone, the BBC cancelled the interviews he had set up, asking him to 'keep a low profile'.

'I was meant to be doing something but I'm not now,' he said.

When asked if he would be happy to pose for a photograph with Miss Millard, he replied with a wry smile: 'I don't think that will be possible.'

Just 100 yards away, Miss Millard was planning her schedule for the day, while also receiving regular briefings from the BBC publicity office.

Clearly bitterly stung by her treatment, the 35-year-old mother-of-two refused to obey her paymasters by keeping her mouth shut.

She said: 'I think the way this has happened has been pretty terrible. You work extremely long hours out here and I'd love to be at home with my kids but I'm determined I'm going to get on with my job.

She added: 'Clearly there is a huge cloud hanging over everything now. And I'd like to know where all this leaves me.

'It's awkward for Robert too. We've known each other some time and even went out for dinner together the other night. But I love my job and am determined to continue with all the work I've planned. After that, who knows?'

Miss Millard was told of Nisbet's appointment by her BBC line manager on Thursday night. His role will be entertainment correspondent, currently taken in under Miss Millard's own arts brief.

'The line manager only phoned me after she had been approached by the Press. But clearly Robert's position cuts widely across my brief,' she said. 'I'm sad and disappointed and am considering my future, but I hope it will still be with the BBC despite all this.'

A corporation spokesman last night tried to play down the row, saying: 'It's unfortunate that anybody has been upset by this.

'The fact is we are beefing up the coverage for the six o'clock News. The roles are not rival ones but are complementary. Rosie will remain the senior arts correspondent.'

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