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Helen takes on top BBC sports job as she battles cancer.

BRAVE BBC sports presenter Helen Rollason is relaunching her career just weeks after learning her cancer has spread.

She has just clinched a pounds 100,000 deal to front the first ever full-blown sports bulletin on the Six O'Clock News.

The new Friday spot is part of a pounds 1million revamp and will report on the top weekend sports events.

BBC news chief Mark Popescu insisted the new job should not be seen as an act of charity towards Helen, 42, who has battled against cancer of the colon for the last two years. He said: "We have picked her because she is one of the best sports journalists around. I hope Helen will be presenting for the next five years."

The new service will start on May 14, just four days after the new-look bulletin goes on air with new music, a new set and a team of fresh presenters.

Although it will only go out once a week, Helen has told BBC bosses she also wants to work on Thursdays planning the show.

BBC chiefs are impressed by Helen's knowledge of top sports and her ability to speak in plain language.

Helen learned she had cancer in August 1997. She has consistently refused to be beaten by the disease - and returned to the screens just six months after she was first diagnosed.

But earlier this month she was told the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs.

In a recent interview Helen, who has a 16-year-old daughter called Nikki, revealed she takes one day at a time. She said: "I was initially given three months to live.

"I passed that and was then given another few months in March last year. Now I don't discuss dates."

The new five-minute sports bulletin is one of a series of changes being introduced by BBC chiefs following ITN moving News at Ten to 6.30pm.

But Popescu said he was was pleasantly surprised Trevor McDonald hadn't trounced him in the ratings.

He said: "We are half a million viewers ahead of ITV. I am a little bit surprised. I expected them to be comfortably ahead."

But he admitted the war boosted ratings and audiences may dwindle once the conflict in Kosovo is over.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Words:373
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