Heroine of Hackney one of BBC’s female faces of 2011 alongside Adele, Gabrielle Giffords and ... a panda

The controversial list has sparked the second sexism spat for the BBC in less than a month.

The grandmother dubbed the ‘Heroine of Hackney’ after lambasting yobs during the summer riots features in a controversial list compiled by the BBC of the top female faces of 2011.

Pauline Pearce, who was named as the female face of August, appears alongside popstar Adele, shot US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a panda in the round-up of women who made headlines.

The 45-year-old rose to fame when video footage of her berating looters and telling them they made her feel “ashamed to be a Hackney person” became an internet sensation.

The inclusion of Tian Tian (Sweetie), a female panda who arrived at Edinburgh Zoo earlier in December, sparked the second sexism spat for the BBC in less than a month.

It follows the corporation’s failure to include a female nominee in its Sports Personality of the Year competition.

The male panda that also came to Edinburgh was not named in the men’s list, which did feature actor Colin Firth and former News of the World features editor, Paul McMullan

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The list has also been criticised because a quarter of the female faces this year were chosen for their marriages.

Labour MP Stella Creasy tweeted: “No offence to Sweetie -- sure a lovely panda and best in the class etc -- but clue is in the title ‘women’ not ‘female of the species’ of the year.”

Bob Chaundy, the freelance reporter who wrote the list, responded to outrage on Twitter, saying: ”I didn’t choose the BBC women faces of the year subjects, just wrote them. Two black eyes from wife though. Pandamonium!”

The BBC pointed out this was not the first time an animal had appeared in its Faces of the Year lists.