A BBC executive has apologised "unreservedly" to Ronnie Corbett after he made a foul-mouthed reference to the veteran star to staff.
The editor of 'The One Show' sent an email to colleagues after the 'Two Ronnies' star cancelled an appearance on the BBC1 evening programme in which he called Corbett a "little ****".
Doug Carnegie, the editor, forwarded an email containing the insult to the production team of more than 60 people after a guest booker told him of Corbett's no-show.
A source from 'The One Show' said: "He did make the comment in the heat of the moment and he has apologised to Ronnie unreservedly."
Carnegie contacted Corbett's agent as soon as it emerged the email had been made public, when it was leaked to a newspaper. He has emailed an apology but has not spoken to the star.
Carnegie is due to leave 'The One Show', where he has worked since 2007, in a few weeks.
It is not known if Carnegie, who has worked for Comic Relief, will face any punishment from the BBC for his actions.
Corbett was one of the BBC's best-loved stars in the 1970s thanks to his comic partnership with Ronnie Barker. He also starred in his own sitcom 'Sorry'.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on private or leaked correspondence."