DAVINA McCall, the presenter of this summer's TV hit Big Brother is to host this year's teaching "Oscars".
But the apparent pulling-power of the 33-year-old who dominated Channel 4 for the nine-week run of the voyeuristic house-share show, has not impressed BBC bosses. The glittering event has been relegated from peak time to the 4.30pm Sunday "snooze" slot.
Last year, the Teaching Awards were broadcast live from Alexandra Palace in a hour-long spectacular presented by Stephen Fry and Gaby Roslin. It attracted 2.1 million viewers, 14 per cent of the total television audience.
Prime-time BBC programmes would usually be watched by 25 to 35 per cent of viewers.
Sunday's event, which will be held at the Millennium Dome, will be pre-recorded. A 50-minute programme will be broadcast a week later on November 5.
Fourteen teachers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will pick up the prizes known as "Platos". Each winner receives pound;20,000 for their school, plus the pound;3,500 for winning the regional heat.
"I have some great memories of some of my school teachers and am very pleased to be involved in something that celebrates the unsung heroes of the community."
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said he was surprised by the choice of presenter.
"I'm sure she will do a very professional job but it is a shame we couldn't find a more appropriate star, more in line with the values we would want to attach to teaching - that is the opposite to everything the programme Big Brother stands for."
Lloyds TSB's sponsorship of the event, worth pound;3 million, ends this year. Negotiations with a replacement company are at a critical stage and an announcement is expected at the end of November. Work has already begun on the 2001 awards, according to a Teaching Awards spokeswoman.
Nominations for the 2000 awards increased from 1,000 in 1999 to 1,500.