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Barbara Walters has named Honey Boo Boo as one of her Most Fascinating People of 2012.

Barbara Walters, 83, has been spellbound by the antics of the spoiled 7-year-old beauty queen Honey Boo Boo, whose real name is Alana Thompson.

The veteran TV journalist told Us Magazine the reason the TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a hit as it exposes the touching bond she has with her mother June Shannon.

She said: “It’s a love story. It’s a very sweet, loving story.

“A lot of people will say, <<For heaven’s sake, this is ridiculous, this is a child at 5 or 6 years old entering beauty contests>>.

“But the relationship between Alana and her mother – that’s the story, the two of them. It’s very touching.”

And Barbara Walters claims beneath the bluster, the show is actually full of demonstrations of old-fashioned family values.

She said: “Honey Boo Boo is not an obnoxious little girl. She’s sweet and loving with her mother and loving with her sisters [Jessica, Lauryn and Anna].

“And now Anna has a new baby, and the baby has [three] thumbs – but so what? It’ll make you smile.”

Barbara Walters has named Honey Boo Boo as one of her Most Fascinating People of 2012

Barbara Walters has named Honey Boo Boo as one of her Most Fascinating People of 2012

Ben Affleck, One Direction and 50 Shades of Grey writer E.L. James have also been named among the Ten Most Fascinating People of 2012.

The Argo director, British boyband and literary sensation have made the ranks this year for Barbara Walters’ annual television special.

The veteran newswoman revealed Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas also made the cut.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton makes the list for a second time; and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will make his debut.

Three others on the list have yet to be announced.

Ben Affleck has had a banner year, now tipped for an Oscar for his critically-acclaimed CIA drama Argo, in which he stars and directs.

One Direction has meanwhile conquered the US music charts after its members Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan emerged a public favorite after finishing third on The X Factor UK in 2010, while E.L. James has made similar feats in the literary world with her erotic novel.

The most fascinating person of 2012 will be named during Barbara Walters’ December television special, which typically includes sit-down interviews with those on the list.

Hillary Clinton was previously named in 1993 during her tenure as First Lady of the United States.

Late Apple boss Steve Jobs was number one on the list last year, preceded by shamed former CIA boss General David Patraeus in 2010.

First Lady Michelle Obama was number one in 2009, preceded by President Barack Obama.

Speaking on The View on Monday, Barbara Walters said 2012 list was compiled of people “very much in the news” this year.

She also added there would be “no criminals” on the list.

Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year is scheduled to air December 12th on ABC network.