The salaries of some of the BBC's biggest screen and radio stars is to be examined in a review comparing costs with commercial rivals.

Among those thought to be the highest-paid at the corporation are chat show host and Radio 2 star Graham Norton, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, and Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman.

The BBC Trust has announced that over the coming months it will look into the issue of pay for talent - which is thought to amount to around £200 million annually - among its programme of reviews.

An independent consultant with expertise in the market will be brought in to look at the BBC's pay bill for big names, which costs the equivalent of more than 1.3 million licence fees.

The Trust said today that the review, beginning later this spring, “will examine the BBC's processes to control costs in recruiting and developing talent, and benchmark against the wider market”.

Last year's annual report for the BBC revealed that 14 stars are paid more than £500,000 annually - down from 16 for the previous year.