Bidding war begins as rivals try to tempt Alan Carr away from Channel 4

The days of working as a struggling comedian on the Manchester circuit are long gone for Alan Carr. With his thick-rimmed spectacles and impossibly white teeth, the co-host of Channel 4's Friday Night Project has become one of television's most instantly recognisable faces during the past three years and now his growing popularity seems about to pay off.

A furious bidding war is expected to erupt in the next few months for a deal with Carr, whose contract with Channel 4 expires at the end of this year.

The Northampton-born comedian, who was snapped up by Channel 4 after a highly successful run of gigs at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is thought to be in talks with executives at the network to extend his contract for another two years, but industry insiders say rival channels are keen to attract a comic who seems to appeal to a particularly wide demographic.

The 31-year-old comedian, who also goes by the name of the Tooth Fairy, said he was "flattered" by the attention but said he felt a great loyalty towards Channel 4. "All this fuss is news to me and I haven't really made up my mind yet," he said. "Channel 4 has been wonderful to me and I am very loyal to them.

"Playing each other off is not really my sort of thing. I'm just an ordinary Northampton boy really so I'll leave the complicated stuff to the agents."

The gay comedian's camp style has often led to him being compared favourably to the likes of Frankie Howerd or Kenneth Williams.

ITV's director of television, Peter Fincham, is thought to be interested in securing Carr while the BBC's entertainment department is rumoured to be interested in hiring him on a non-exclusive basis.

Both networks have played down suggestions of a bidding war but insiders agree that rival network executives are engaged in something of a charm offensive to see whether Carr would contemplate leaving Channel 4.

"It's certainly true that he's highly sought-after at the moment," said one source who has worked with Carr. "There's a lot of interest in him."

Channel 4 will be keen to hold on to one of its most popular comedians. The Friday Night Project, co-hosted by Justin Lee Collins, has become one of Channel 4's most successful comedy formats of recent years – so much so that from next month, the show will under go a name-change and be moved to Sunday in order to beef up the network's end-of-the-weekend programming. Carr has also been given his own solo show, Alan Carr's Celebrity-Ding-Dong, which pits ordinary folk against the intellectual prowess of the modern day C-list celebrity.

The phenomenal sales of his latest live DVD (half a million and counting), and an upcoming autobiography published by Harper-Collins this October, will keep the television interest in Carr burning over the summer months.

Henrietta Conrad, co-founder of Princess Productions which makes The Friday Night Project, refused to comment on any negotiations but said yesterday: "[Carr] appeals to a wide demographic because he combines humour with a kind of down-to-earth niceness. He's the most fabulously charming man. I think people connect with him because he's very real; there's nothing false or put-on about him. What you see is what you get, and I think people respect that."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea