The BBC Trust, which selected Hall only 12 days after the resignation of his ill-fated predecessor George Entwistle and without advertising the position, said its decision had been "unanimous" and that no other candidates were approached.
Given the speed of the process, Chris Patten, the chairman of the Trust, faced questions as to why Hall, a highly-regarded former BBC news chief, had not been selected earlier this year rather than Mr Entwistle, who held the post for only 54 days before stepping down this month after the furore over the Lord McAlpine and Jimmy Savile crises.
Patten said Hall, 61 – a member of the House of Lords – had considered his age was against him. "He said he'd loved his time at the BBC but maybe a younger person should do the job. Clearly by this November things had changed substantially."
The BBC had previously missed a chance to give Hall (pictured) the job in 2000 when it chose Greg Dyke, who was brought down by the Hutton Inquiry four years later. Hall joined the Royal Opera House where he greatly improved its standing and increased annual revenues from £45m (€55m) to £106m (€131m).
BBC sources said that when the organisation was plunged into its latest leadership crisis, the Opera House chief "saw the moment and understood that he is needed".
Lord McAlpine has confirmed he received £125,000 (€155,000) and legal costs from ITV after an on-air stunt by Phillip Schofield, in which the peer was wrongly smeared on a list of "Tory paedophiles" handed to British Prime Minster David Cameron. (© Independent News Service)