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Why I'm quitting the news, by BBC's Jill.

TV presenter Jill Dando spoke out last night about her surprise decision to quit the BBC's Six O'Clock News.

Jill, 37, has been with BBC News for 10 years and has been one of the key anchors on the teatime news since 1994.

She was favourite to take over as solo anchor in a major relaunch next spring.

But last night, she confirmed she had withdrawn from the race.

Jill said: "I am relieved to put an end to the incessant speculation surrounding my involvement with the Six O'Clock News.

"Obviously, I will miss my colleagues in news. After 20 years working as a journalist in print, radio and television, news has been a significant part of my career. But like any TV presenter, being given the opportunity to try something new has to be exciting and challenging."

Pals say Jill has had enough of the bitter in-fighting and back-stabbing that has wreaked havoc in the BBC newsroom over the last six months.

She is now looking forward to the calmers waters of factual programmes on BBC1. As part of a pounds 500,000 golden handcuffs deal, she will become a mainstream presenter like Carol Smillie with six new factual entertainment shows starting in the New Year.

As well as her hit Holiday and Crimewatch series, she will host a new antiques show, two new travel programmes and front a spin- off series based on Crimewatch.

There are also plans for a one-off about next summer's eclipse and a peak-time, Millennium-related series.

Last night, Jill's decision to end her carreer as an anchorwoman had the BBC's news department reeling.

Who reads the news is one of the biggest decisions facing the Beeb. Friends say Jill reconsidered her future after rumours that BBC bosses were split over her appointment.

TV chief Peter Salmon reckoned Jill's warmth would bring vital "viewer appeal". But now the Beeb risks losing millions of viewers when ITV axe News at Ten and switch Trevor McDonald to 6.30pm.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 15, 1998
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