July 31, 2008

‘Mr Countdown’ Threatens to Pull Plug Over Carol Row

THE future of Channel 4 show Countdown has been thrown into doubt after the businessman who owns the rights to the quiz threatened to pull the plug.

Over the weekend presenter Carol Vorderman claimed she quit because she was asked to take a 90% pay cut.

Now Belgian businessman Marcel Stellman is threatening to pull the plug in response to the show's treatment of the veteran presenter.

He told the Daily Mirror: "I control the format and without the format there is no show. I am upset for Carol, more than that, this is a person I have known for 26 years who started Countdown.

"If I am Mr Countdown, she is Mrs Countdown. She is delightful and loyal and cannot be treated in any other way than respect.

"If they don't come up with things they have promised in writing, and are now being dealt with by my solicitors, from now on I don't wish to talk about the future."

Mr Stellman added he was "not happy" with ITV productions, the company that makes Countdown.

Vorderman, who has worked on the show for 26 years, said she had offered to accept a pay cut of one-third, in line with the show's 33% budget cut.

Showbusiness agent Jonathan Shalit told the Daily Telegraph that while star names such as Simon Cowell would continue to command "super salaries", "jobbing presenters" would face tougher times.

"A-list presenters like Ant and Dec who people believe have a unique skill that can't be replicated won't be affected because they have the power to generate huge viewing figures."

Vorderman's contract with the Channel 4 show runs until the end of the year and she will return to Leeds for filming. Her manager John Miles said Vorderman had gone public about the row due to "a series of 'off the record' media briefings that insinuated that Carol had exited the programme because she was demanding more money".

Gail Walker, Page 9

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