Media: The Word on the Street

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ANOTHER soap-doc, another piece of fiction. Channel 4's Film Four launch party this month was held in an old transport shed in King's Cross. On the day of the party, it rained heavily and the shed began to leak. Unable to find the landlord, Channel 4's resourceful PR team repaired the roof. When the landlord arrived he went ballistic. "You'll have to unfix it afterwards," he said. "The BBC are making a documentary about homelessness here next week, and they specifically want to rent this shed because of the leak."

USING A dodgy part of north London for a launch party carried other risks too. Beforehand, Channel 4's party organisers were visited by someone from a "local security firm", who talked with menace about a fire risk. The party organisers told him to get lost, but he returned with another idea. If a payment was not made, Channel 4's guests would be showered with flour and eggs from flats overlooking the venue. A quick pounds 1,400 donation was made to the "firm".

COULD MIKE Hellicar of The Star be the first person in Fleet Street to be sacked by voice-mail? Mr Hellicar, an assistant editor at The Star, received a message on his mobile last week, when the latest cuts were made. It told him to arrange a meeting with personnel director Sue Brader and editor Peter Hill, adding ominously "you know what it's about". Mr Hellicar called and told Ms Brader not to bother with a meeting, but just to send him a letter. He then checked his pager - just in case that's a new mode of dismissal.

SUPPOSEDLY THE Queen thinks the world smells of fresh paint because of the gentrification that takes place prior to her visits. Sir John Birt, it seems, suffers the same affliction. Last week he visited the BBC's radio marketing and publicity department. This was no surprise inspection, so Sue Farr, the head of marketing, ordered everyone to tidy their desks and pin up posters of the latest radio advertising campaigns so Sir John would know what she does. Unfortunately the office is open plan with few walls, so instead they were stuck over the doors of cupboards - which then couldn't be opened.

During his visit, Sir John emphasised that the BBC need not be as worried by ratings as others. Given Radio 4's recent loss of 500,000 listeners this is taken as a hint that the station's controller, James Boyle, has a better chance at the Director of Radio job than was thought.