Gary Lineker jokes about ‘quiet’ week as he prepares for BBC return

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Photograph: James Manning/PA

Gary Lineker will return to TV screens for the first time since his BBC suspension on Saturday after joking about having had a “quiet” week.

The broadcaster, 62, was taken off air last weekend for a tweet criticising the language used by ministers when discussing the government’s asylum policy.

Lineker will present live BBC coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley, with analysis from Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, on Saturday evening, while Mark Chapman is due to host the Match of the Day highlights show.

The cup tie marks Lineker’s first appearance on the BBC since the row over a tweet in which he likened the language used to launch a government asylum seeker policy with that of 1930s Germany.

Asked by La Liga TV on Friday how the past seven days had been, Lineker said: “Really quiet! Nothing much going on. You could say it’s been an interesting week but I’m still here, still punching.

“It was interesting and also hugely gratifying. I had an amazing amount of support from my friends and colleagues which was quite beautiful actually.”

He added: “It was totally disproportionate the whole thing but we’re OK. It’s resolved, I’m relieved, I’m back to work tomorrow and all is well with the world.”

Tim Davie, the director general of the BBC, apologised on Monday for the widespread disruption to sports programming over the weekend, and announced an independent review of the corporation’s internal social media guidelines.

“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences,” said Davie. “I apologise for this. The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

Davie said the review of his social media policy would have a “particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs”.

Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid presenter who receives £1.35m annually, welcomed the review and said he was keen to get back to presenting duties, including Match of the Day. “I am glad that we have found a way forward,” he said in the joint statement with Davie. “I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

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