ITV poaches Chiles from BBC in £6m deal

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The Independent Culture

Adrian Chiles has left the BBC for ITV in a four-year deal worth £6m that will see him become head of the commercial broadcaster's football coverage and the face of the relaunched version of its breakfast television arm GMTV.

The Birmingham-born presenter has been aggressively courted by ITV for more than two years and his decision to finally leave is a direct result of the BBC's hiring of Chris Evans to present the Friday edition of The One Show, the early evening magazine programme that Chiles made into a hit.

To some degree, the BBC's loss of Chiles is the result of continued fallout from the Jonathan Ross saga of two and a half years ago. With Ross, the BBC's most highly paid presenter, leaving the corporation in July after a prolonged row over his salary, the BBC1 controller Jay Hunt needs to find a replacement for his showbiz-dominated Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show.

The BBC believes that problem can be partly addressed by introducing Evans to The One Show on Fridays. Chiles, who with his co-presenter Christine Bleakley has increased the programme's audience to more than seven million, is not believed to have been consulted on the decision and was unhappy that it was announced while he was on holiday.

In moving to ITV he will be get a considerable pay rise and will be the senior presenter of the broadcaster's coverage of the World Cup and next season's Champions League, FA Cup and England international football matches. He will also be the key presenter on GMTV. A central figure in the move is the ITV director of television Peter Fincham, who was controller of BBC1 when The One Show launched.

In a pointed statement yesterday, Chiles indicated that he was unhappy at the way the BBC had handled the situation. "Coming as it did at an awkward period for me at the BBC, it made the decision to leave not quite as hard as it might have been," he said.

"I would've been happy to stay at the BBC doing the same shows on the same terms, especially The One Show, of which I am so proud having worked on it since the first pilots four years ago. It's no secret how disappointed I was by the controller's decision to change an apparently successful and well-loved show at this stage, but fully respect her right to do so and sincerely wish her and the brilliant One Show team well with it."

BBC executives are understood to have been keen to keep Chiles and had offered him a package that would have made him one of their most prominent presenters, hosting four editions of The One Show, spin-offs of The Apprentice and Match of the Day and possibly his own chat show. His salary at the BBC is understood to have been £1m a year.

Two years ago, Chiles came close to leaving for ITV. The combination of being offered the role of reviving GMTV, which he will see as a similar challenge to the one he faced on The One Show, along with the perceived snub over Evans, appear to have persuaded him to move on.

It remains to be seen whether Evans will succeed on a show with an audience that skews to late middle age and specialises in tackling often mundane issues. In January he succeeded Terry Wogan on the Radio 2 breakfast show and is believed to have held on to the Irishman's large and loyal audience. But 13 years ago, when he last attempted to present a Friday evening television show while working five days a week on breakfast radio, he ended up resigning live on air on Radio 1.