Christine Bleakley appears to be at the centre of an escalating bidding war, amid reports that the BBC has offered her a £2m deal not to jump ship to ITV.
According to reports today, the Newry-born presenter is poised to sign a £2m two-year deal to stay at the broadcaster, where she has presented tea-time magazine show The One Show for three years.
Despite entertaining the advances of ITV, Christine is now expected to accept the counter-offer from Beeb chiefs to remain as presenter of The One Show and become the face of the corporation’s 2012 Olympics coverage.
Yet two days ago it looked as if Christine had been swayed by ITV’s attractions and would be reunited with former co-host Adrian Chiles as presenters of GMTV.
Chiles (43), was reportedly lobbying for Christine to join him.
She even fired her long-term agent John Noel, who had been opposed to her jump to the commercial station.
But in an unexpected volte-face, the Newtownards girl appears to have decided to settle for the devil she knows.
A source close to the presenter told the newspaper: “Christine knows that at the BBC, she will be a major player now and will be in line to get big opportunities as well as being guaranteed to front the Olympics — which would have been Adrian’s job, alongside Sue Barker.
“At ITV, she would have gone from hosting The One Show, which regularly pulls in 4m viewers, to suffering through 4am wake-up calls on GMTV, which is lucky to get 1m viewers a day.
“Christine knew that it didn’t make much sense.”
Yet many TV people viewed a GMTV move as inevitable, with Northern Ireland-born Eamonn Holmes desribing his compatriot as the “perfect and only choice” to co-host with Adrian.
Christine is dating England and Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard, who has been warming up for the World Cup finals in South Africa while his companion has been weighing up her career options.