Jimmy Carr tax controversy is a blessing for C4

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The Independent Online

The revelation that Jimmy Carr puts £3.3 million a year into an offshore tax shelter may have left the comedian shamefaced, but the controversy surrounding his tax affairs has proved to be something of a boon for Channel 4.

Friday's episode of panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats averaged an audience of 2.5 million viewers, peaking at 2.7 million. That's almost double the number who watched last week and a million more than the series average.

The episode, which saw Carr apologise unreservedly for the "mess" he has created, shot straight to the top of the most-watched programmes on online streaming site 4oD.

It came as politicians continued to press for a tax avoidence clampdown to go to the top of the Government's agenda.

Yesterday Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander pointed out that basic tax could be cut by more than 2p if everybody paid what they owed.

"We have to make sure that everybody, especially the rich and famous, are paying their fair share of tax," the Treasury Secretary told the Sunday Politics programme.

Simon Walker, Director-General of the Institute of Directors, said it was necessary to simplify the tax rules.

He called for a straight 35 per cent tax on all income and payments from companies and banks.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested the public was only willing to tolerate tax avoidance in economic good times.

On 8 out of 10 Cats panellists took the chance to rib Carr about the K2 scheme. Comedian Sean Lock said: "We all like to put a bit of money away for a rainy day, don't we? But I think you're more prepared than Noah."