BBC and ITV at war over celebrity talent: Beeb chiefs are ‘furious’ after rival network poached Gary Lineker, Zoe Ball and now Graham Norton for prime-time shows as ‘revenge’ for signing up its biggest TV stars
- Norton, 60, is latest to join ITV after landing job as host of The Wheel of Fortune
The BBC and ITV are at war after both channels have poached one another’s most popular stars.
Beeb chiefs are said to be ‘furious’ at their rival television network for taking three of their biggest presenters and giving them shows on prime time slots.
Yesterday it was revealed that Graham Norton, 60, was the latest host to join the ITV stable as it was announced that he will front a remake of The Wheel of Fortune.
It comes after both Gary Lineker, 62, and Zoe Ball, 52, were also taken in by the network despite being the BBC’s highest paid stars.
However, sources at ITV say that the poachings have been part of their Managing Director, Media and Entertainment Kevin Lygo’s revenge strategy after they stole the broadcaster’s talent such as Holly Willoughby, 42, former Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness, 49, The Chase presenter Bradley Walsh, 63, and more recently, This Morning’s Alison Hammond – who the network believe they trained and nurtured.
Host with the most: As one of the highest-paid stars at the BBC, Graham Norton is already thought to earn in excess of £2 million for his Friday night chat show
Sources at ITV say that the poachings have been part of their Managing Director, Media and Entertainment Kevin Lygo’s revenge strategy after they stole the broadcaster’s talent such as Holly Willoughby, 42
How the UK’s biggest TV stars work for BOTH the BBC and ITV, amid rumours of a poaching war between the long-time broadcast rivals
BBC: The Graham Norton Show, Eurovision, Children In Need
ITV: The Wheel of Fortune
BBC: Match Of The Day
ITV: Sitting On A Fortune
BBC: The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show (radio)
ITV: Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream
BBC: Rumoured to be ‘in talks’ to host Strictly Come Dancing, Freeze The Fear With Wim Hoff
ITV: This Morning
BBC: Top Gear, Question Of Sport
ITV: Ex-host of Take Me Out
ITV: The Chase
BBC: Friends Like These (axed), Clear The Dancefloor
ITV: This Morning
BBC: Radio 2 show
ITV: This Morning
A television insider said: ‘To say it feels like a war is an understatement. It all seems to have got very tit for tat.
‘Kevin has been furious that the likes of Paddy, Holly, Alison and Bradley have been appearing on the BBC, he is a very competitive man and has one big job, to get viewers.
‘You can’t help but think that his pursuit of Gary, Zoe and now Graham was some kind of revenge.
‘ITV are very happy with their three new additions, they think Wheel of Fortune is going to be huge.
The telly world is now waiting to see what the next move is, whether the BBC will try another audacious poaching.’
Historically stars would work with just one channel at a time, and would often sign ‘golden handcuffs’ deals to ensure that they remain exclusive to either network.
If they were to defect it would be that they were only allowed to work for that broadcaster.
A decade ago Susanna Reid left the BBC to present ITV’s Good Morning Britain, while in 1978 The Morecambe & Wise Show did the same, as did Michael Parkinson when he went to ITV in 2007 after 25 years at the Beeb.
However, in recent years presenters appear to have taken back the power and have refused to sign exclusivity deals and take the view that they go where the work is.
The BBC is currently plotting to get Ms Willoughby to themselves after landing her to present their prime time show Freeze The Fear With Wim Hoff.
They are keen to find her a big weekend show to host, with some bosses hoping they may be able to sign her to present their Saturday night dance show Strictly.
The source added: ‘That would be the best revenge the BBC could wish for.’
BBC’s Match of the Day host Lineker has a Sunday night quiz show Sitting on a Fortune on ITV.
Meanwhile BBC Radio 2 host Zoe Ball has just finished filming ITV’s much anticipated search-for-a-star show, Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream, which is likely to be screened at the weekends, starting this autumn.
Ms Hammond was recently revealed to have signed a deal to present a new dance show for the BBC, Clear The Dancefloor, which sees zany amateur dancers competing against each other.
Gary Lineker, 62, and Zoe Ball, 52, have also been taken in by ITV despite being the BBC’s highest paid stars
BBC Radio 2 host Zoe Ball has just finished filming ITV’s much anticipated search-for-a-star show, Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream, which is likely to be screened at the weekends, starting this autumn
Paddy McGuinness (left) left ITV for BBC four years ago to host Top Gear and other programmes, while Bradley Walsh (right) host of ITV’s The Chase, has just been announced as host of the BBC’s Gladiators reboot
Alison Hammond was recently revealed to have signed a deal to present a new dance show for the BBC, Clear The Dancefloor, which sees zany amateur dancers competing against each other
She previously appeared on Saturday night programme I Can See Your Voice on the network too.
ITV star Amanda Holden – a judge on Britain’s Got Talent – also starred on the show which was presented by McGuinness.
He was also poached by the Corporation to star in Top Gear and present Question of Sport.
Walsh was also snatched from ITV to host a Saturday night show with Ms Willoughby, Take Off with Bradley & Holly, as well as a reboot of Blankety Blank last year.
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