INSIDE THE BOX: Is Dannii ITV's comeback girl Former X Factor judge met with ITV boss while on promotional trip to UK
22:44 GMT, 13 September 2012
The former X Factor judge secretly met ITV director of television Peter Fincham to discuss a likely comeback
Publicly Dannii Minogue has said her trip to the UK this week has been to promote her fashion range Project D, but that wasn’t the only reason.
I’m told the former X Factor judge secretly met ITV director of television Peter Fincham to discuss a likely comeback.
It came just days after details of a similar meeting between Fincham and Simon Cowell about Dannii were revealed in Tom Bower’s updated biography on the music mogul.
Cowell told the ITV chief to re-hire Dannii for this year’s X Factor on a salary of 2 million because ‘everyone will be looking at her t***’.
Now, with the show’s ratings down three million, Dannii, 40, is once again a favourite to return for the tenth — and possibly final — series next year.
‘Dannii was a significant element in the huge success of The X Factor. Viewers love her. Simon and Peter realise that now, but so does Dannii, so she holds all the cards,’ says my well-placed source.
Australian Dannii is not convinced about making a return and is exploring other options, including launching her own show, which could start a bidding war.
My source adds: ‘The BBC have also expressed an interest in working with her. But she’s also met independent production companies to discuss working on her own TV projects. She wants to be back on screen in the UK.’
Despite her fury at Cowell for revealing details of their affair in Bower’s book, she’s still cordial with him. ‘She’s a judge on Australia’s Got Talent — but won’t be impressed by vulgar comments about her anatomy,’ the source says.
Meanwhile, the judging panel of the current troubled series could be facing a significant shake-up, sources tell me. Besides Dannii, Sharon Osbourne, Spice Girl Mel B and even Cowell himself are already positioning for possible returns.
Nicole Scherzinger and Gary Barlow, the man he tried to sack last year, are considered vulnerable.
Pippa pops in to Downton
As Downtown Abbey prepares for a big night at the Emmy Awards soon, the impact of the show in the U.S. — even in the White House — is becoming clear.
‘People watch in the West Wing,’ Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley in the ITV hit, tells me.
He also reveals that Pippa and James Middleton visited the set of the drama.
‘Alastair Bruce, who is our historical adviser, helped them with their family crest,’ says Dan.
Of the family’s visit, he adds: ‘They were lovely, and clearly big fans.’ And do William and Kate watch the show ‘They do,’ Matthew’s co-star Michelle Dockery smiles.
You're Fired! Sugar battles to save Young Apprentice
The BBC is battling one of its best-known stars, Lord Sugar.
The face of The Apprentice wants its spin-off show Young Apprentice, which stars budding entrepreneurs aged 16 and 17, to continue.
But BBC1 bosses want to end it after this year to focus on the adult version, whose ratings dropped last year after peaking in Series 7.
Alan Sugar, pictured with Karen Brady and Nick Hewer wants its spin-off show Young Apprentice, which stars budding entrepreneurs aged 16 and 17, to continue
My Beeb source explains: ‘This is about protecting The Apprentice brand long-term.’
But Lord Sugar’s supporters argue that Young Apprentice has become a more entertaining series with a less combative tone because Lord Sugar has become fond of nurturing the youngsters.
One suggests: ‘Why not move it to BBC3, which is meant to attract a younger audience’
That sounds like a sensible compromise.
But a Young Apprentice source says: ‘Lord Sugar has filmed one more series of Young Apprentice, which will be airing on BBC1 soon. There are no plans for another at the moment.’
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘It wouldn’t work on BBC3 because that channel’s brief is to feature fresh and original new content.’
The rivalry between EastEnders and Coronation Street reached ridiculous new heights at the TV Choice Awards this week.
After being tipped off that EastEnders had won Best Soap award, Corrie executive producer Phil Collinson left looking unhappy.
With Strictly Come Dancing returning tomorrow night, its bosses are planning to spice up the show’s format with some surprise twists. ‘The X Factor is clearly weak this year.
The producers believe Strictly can be the clear winner,’ an insider says.