Anne Robinson’s decision to quit Countdown has led to sighs of relief after alleged spats with Rachel Riley and Susie Dent left bosses fearful they might quit.
The 77-year-old former Weakest Link presenter had complained that maths whizz Rachel was “too noisy”.
Front-runners to replace her as host include Sir Trevor McDonald, Richard Osman, who has just quit Pointless, and BBC star Fiona Bruce.
One insider said: “Everyone is so relieved, to be honest. It’s all been a bit of a disaster with the fallouts and squabbles, we just want to draw a line under it and move on.”
At one point Anne is said to have insisted Rachel’s microphone was muted so she alone could talk to the contestants before shows began.
Yesterday many fans made it clear they were not sorry to see the back of the former journalist, who was branded “unpleasant and aggressive”. One quipped: “Anne, you are the weakest link, goodbye.”
Another agreed: “I hate the way she mocks contestants.”
One former viewer said: “I might start watching again if they get a decent replacement. She was awful.”
Filming begins in June with bosses said to be close to naming a host.
Comedian Romesh Ranganathan and former This Morning favourite Fern Britton are contenders, with Eamonn Holmes and Moira Stuart also potential replacements.
Anne told bosses at the end of last week that she would not be renewing her year-long £500,000 contract, saying it took up too much time.
She leaves the show with its highest audience share since 2012.
But its recent average of 280,000 viewers is a far cry from 2008, when the average audience was 1million.
Anne insisted talk of a rift with Rachel, 36, and Dictionary Corner’s Susie, 57, had been exaggerated.
But she admitted: “She is noisy, she and Susie both are – they are a formidable pair. But there isn’t a question of my going because of a rift, that’s nonsense.”
For her part, Rachel is said to have found Anne “difficult and mean”.