A total of 69 people applied to be the new director-general of the BBC, meeting minutes from the BBC Trust reveal today.
That number was whittled down to 19 "prioritised candidates" before corporation insider George Entwistle was named as the new boss last Wednesday.
Minutes from a meeting of the BBC Trust, held on Wednesday May 23, reveal members discussed the 19 candidates before agreeing another "list of candidates to proceed to the next stage of the process".
It has been reported four candidates were interviewed for the position - widely seen as the most powerful job in UK broadcasting - but only three have been identified.
Ofcom boss Ed Richards and the BBC's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, also made it through to the interview stage alongside Mr Entwistle who will start in his new role on September 17.
He will take on a much-reduced salary of £450,000 in the autumn, a £200,000-plus reduction on that paid to outgoing director-general Mark Thompson.
The 50-year-old has previously been a current affairs programme-maker and for the past year has been in charge of the corporation's TV output as head of BBC Vision.
His chances were at one stage thought to have diminished in the wake of the much-criticised BBC coverage of the Diamond Jubilee pageant, which came under his responsibility.
He joined the BBC as a trainee in 1989 after a short career in magazine journalism. He went on to be editor of Newsnight, head of current affairs with responsibility for programmes such as Panorama and was an acting controller of BBC4.
Thompson indicated in March that he was stepping down after eight years, following the Olympics. Headhunting firm Egon Zehnder led the process to find his successor for a fee of £157,000.