BBC presenter has apologised after greeting viewers of a news broadcast with her middle finger raised.

Maryam Moshiri, a chief presenter on the BBC News channel, was seen to make the obscene gesture after a countdown to the start of the show.

She quickly realised she was live on air and reverted to normal.

The incident was flagged by the Clean Feed @ The TV Room account on Twitter/X. It wrote: “Been a while since a middle finger gesture made it on to BBC News …”

Responding, Moshiri said she had been having a “private joke”.

The presenter said: “Hey, I’m so sorry about this. I was having a private joke with the team in the gallery and pretending to count down as the director was counting me down from 10-0 … including the fingers to show the number.

“When we got to 1 I turned finger [sic] around as a joke and did not realise that this would be caught on camera.

“It was a private joke with the team and I’m so sorry it went out on air! It was not my intention for this to happen and I’m sorry if I offended or upset anyone.

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“I wasn’t ‘flipping the bird’ at viewers or even a person really. It was a silly joke that was meant for a small number of my mates.”

It comes after the UK Government confirmed veteran TV executive Samir Shah was their preferred candidate to take over as BBC chair.

Currently chief executive of award-winning production company Juniper TV, Shah was also an executive on the controversial report by Boris Johnson’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which concluded that the “claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence”.

He has also criticised “woke warriors” in an article for The Spectator discussing the cultural appropriation of food.