The Beeb"s leading me a merry dance

The Beeb's leading me a merry dance



00:07 GMT, 30 March 2012

Bruno Tonioli: It takes two to tango

Bruno Tonioli: It takes two to tango

New talent show The Voice has already cost the BBC 22million, but is about to get even more expensive as a war breaks out with the Strictly Come Dancing judges over money.

I met up with Bruno Tonioli this week in Los Angeles, and he revealed that he and his fellow judges, Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood, have not yet re-signed for the tenth series of the show, which begins later this year.

And when I informed him of the significantly higher wages being paid to The Voice judges, the passionate Italian wasn’t happy. Tom Jones is believed to be earning 300,000, while Jessie J will get 200,000, despite it being only the first season of the show.

After nearly a decade of loyal service, the Strictly judges earn 90,000 – a significant fee, but low by TV standards.

‘Are you kidding Don’t even go there!’ Bruno exploded after being told about The Voice salaries.

‘I’ll make some phone calls to check those figures and then we’ll talk about it. I think the BBC are going to have to make a phone call! It’s about time.’

Asked if he ever felt the BBC was taking him for granted he said: ‘Well now I’ve heard that! But I know one thing – they will never pay X Factor figures.’

Strictly’s male judges plan to negotiate as a bloc, as they have since the show began. That means there is no jealousy because they are paid the same fee.

‘I’m busy doing Dancing With The Stars here and I’m not back in the UK until the end of May,’ said Bruno. ‘In the past, Len and I haven’t signed for Strictly until June.’

After losing Alesha Dixon to Britain’s Got Talent on ITV, it would be a disaster for the BBC if one of the original judges defected.

Meanwhile, Bruno said no decision has been made on who’ll replace Alesha because Strictly still doesn’t have a new executive producer.

But he added: ‘As I’ve said to you before, I don’t know why just the three of us couldn’t be the panel.’

At least that would make it easier for the Beeb to give them a pay rise…

Emma Hawkins

Emma Hawkins

Viewers of Channel 4’s popular Four Rooms have been wondering about the abrupt departure of taxidermy expert Emma Hawkins, 39 (left).

I’m told she quit because of the unexpected pressures it was putting on her personal life.

A source reveals: ‘She got fed up with the attention from over-enthusiastic male fans. We were disappointed — she was a budding star.’

Her unexpected appointment to The X Factor panel and resulting feud with Sharon Osbourne helped boost that show to record ratings.

So it’s no surprise there are murmurs that ITV bosses are considering wooing Dannii Minogue back to British TV in a new judging role.

She’s been suggested for a role on next year’s Dancing On Ice panel after a worrying slump in viewers during this year’s series, which ended on Sunday night.

Ratings winner:: Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue on The X Factor

Ratings winner:: Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue on The X Factor

German iceskating star Katerina Witt appears most at risk of being dropped. My ITV source says: ‘Most viewers hadn’t heard of her, despite her being a brilliant skater. The panel needs celebrity back. Dannii would deliver that.’

However, Dannii may be reluctant to commit after deciding to settle permanently in Australia and only make brief visits back to the UK.

Another option is Arlene Phillips, if the BBC overlooks her for a return to her old job on Strictly.

It’s looking likely the next BBC director general will be a woman after the leading outside candidate privately ruled himself out of the job this week.

Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham told friends he has no plans to defect, but would love the job ‘next time’.

The top two internal candidates are chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and director of news Helen Boaden.

My source reveals: ‘The BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten likes the idea of appointing the first female DG.’

Steve Jones

Steve Jones

Following his stint hosting Let’s
Dance on BBC1, Steve Jones (returned to the U.S. this week to try and
pick up the pieces of his career after he was axed by Simon Cowell as
the frontman of American X Factor.

My source says: ‘Steve still wants to make it in the U.S. but it will be difficult for him after X Factor.’

* * *

I’ve been in LA this week, where the TV industry is abuzz about a new programme set in the White House. Unlike The West Wing, this series, called 1600 Penn, will be a comedy about the First Family.

Bill Pullman has been tapped to play the President. My source says: ‘It’s election year in America, so there’s a feeling that a White House comedy could work.’