Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Christine Bleakley axes agent for second time

Christine Bleakley
Christine Bleakley

Christine Bleakley has fired her manager for the second time in three years amid reports she is facing the chop from ITV.

The Co Down presenter has left management company Avalon to sign with James Grant, home to her Dancing On Ice co-host Phillip Schofield and presenters Holly Willoughby, Davina McCall and Ant and Dec.

Bleakley (34) is approaching the end of her multi-million pound golden handcuffs contract with ITV. It's understood the channel is considering her future.

Her decision to dump Avalon is seen as a sign that she is taking matters into her own hands in a bid to revive her ailing television career.

In 2010 the ex-Daybreak host parted company with then-manager John Noel, when she quit the BBC to join ITV with One Show co-presenter Adrian Chiles.

She signed to Avalon instead, which already had Chiles on its books. Her move resulted in a legal battle with Mr Noel.

When both Bleakley and Chiles were sacked from Daybreak because of poor viewing figures, she replaced Willoughby on Dancing On Ice, but viewers failed to warm to her, and in a television poll earlier this year she was voted 'least liked' television host. A source told The Mirror Bleakley's move could result in bigger and better TV shows for her.

"Since moving to ITV there is a feeling that she hasn't fulfilled her potential and could be doing more shows," the source said.

"Many of their biggest and best stars are on the books with James Grant and so Christine wants to join them.

"They turned around Davina McCall's career when she was struggling a bit after Big Brother and the feeling is they can 'do a Davina' with Christine and get her back on TV more often and in better shows.

"Since she was axed from Daybreak she has not spent enough time on screen and her only big gig was hosting Dancing On Ice."

Apart from Dancing On Ice and one-off presenting roles, Bleakley has not been offered concrete work. Her exclusive deal with ITV ends in the summer and it has been reported she could face the axe, along with Chiles and Jonathan Ross, whose deals are also soon up for renewal.

If the trio do stay on, it is understood they will face pay cuts.

An ITV insider said: "It is fair to say that we paid top dollar for Jonathan, Christine and Adrian and, to be frank, they haven't delivered the ratings we had hoped and expected. Any new deal they might be offered would be on greatly reduced terms."

Earlier this year it was also rumoured that Bleakley was considering a move to the US with her fiancé, footballer Frank Lampard.

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