The BBC and ITV have been immersed in a ratings war for years, constantly trying to beat the other, especially when it came to their home-grown reality shows Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. Unfortunately for the BBC, Strictly has consistently come off worse and now, it seems, they're fighting back in a big way.
They deny that this year's moving of Strictly Come Dancing has anything to do with ratings chasing, but it seems far too convenient to us that the BBC's dancing show is now scheduled for the same day as its musical rival. In response ITV swiftly revealed a new 're-vamped' timeslot for its latter results show that attempted to avoid a head-on clash, but again had nothing to do with the fight for viewing figures. (Sure it didn't).
Poor ITV probably didn't expect BBC's next surprise though… Three and a half weeks into The X Factor's current run the Beeb revealed its finalised schedule, which saw the Saturday shows in a head-on clash for the first time ever. And not just for a fairly acceptable ten or fifteen minutes -- for over an hour! Rather cruel for reality fans, we feel, and it seems ITV (predictably) agrees, with an insider slamming their behaviour as "aggressive" and "disappointing". You tell 'em!
BSkyB's James Murdoch recently jumped on the BBC-baiting band wagon too, though he was far less diplomatic. In a face-off with BBC business editor Robert Patterson he accused the broadcaster of mounting a 'land grab' in the field of television news, and described its size 'chilling'. He then went on to publicly shout expletives at his opponent.
It doesn't end there though, oh no. Recently the BBC also apparently banned well-known EastEnders actress Barbara Windsor from appearing on ITV's show Piers Morgan's Life Stories because she had the potential of attracting a decent audience to their rival channel. This was the last straw for the BBC, the channel has now hit back by stopping popular TV hosts Ant and Dec from being guests on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, despite the pair having already agreed to come on the show to promote their new book.
Ant and Dec are said to be "livid" about their ban and no doubt the other celebrities involved are feeling hard done by too. Must the channels tantrums really have to involve the talent? Yes, they pay a lot of money for them, but it's a free world isn't it? If Ant and Dec want to tirelessly plug their latest endeavours on the BBC, we say let them. The same goes for Barbara Windsor and her long-running acting career. We bet she's never seen anything quite like this, and she's been in the business for over 50 years!
This unseemly spat will probably blow over soon however serious it gets, but for now, top TV talent could soon receive permanent bans from rival channels while these sorts of scheduling conflicts are unlikely to do anything other than annoy viewers. In the meantime, stop throwing your dummies out of your prams and concentrate on bringing us decent, uncomplicated TV please.