The City and Media Diary

Whisks at dawn? Worrall Thompson whips up a feud with Ramsay
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The Independent Online

Last week we asked whether Antony Worrall Thompson, the celeb chef, had a commercial reason for plugging Splenda, the artificial sweetener, at every opportunity. Turns out he has, not that he tends to advertise the fact in his writing. Not only that, we may have inadvertently kicked off a spat between two of the country's masters of the kitchen.

"Yes, I do have a commercial interest with Splenda, having helped promote the brand over the last couple of years," AWT tells us. "I only endorse products I believe in and those I use on a regular basis. Tell that to Gordon [Ramsay] and Threshers." Now ladies, back to your stoves.

Some Scots you don't offend...

The Scottish 'Sun' does not print Kelvin MacKenzie's column. "Our readers are not interested in the ramblings of a man who enjoys a pint of flat beer and plates of jellied eels," says its editor, David Dinsmore. However, the anti-Tartan rantings of Mackenzie, former editor and now columnist of the main 'Sun' newspaper, on 'Question Time' last week have certainly been seen north of Hadrian's Wall. Moreover, future contractual negotiations with Mike Anderson, managing director of the 'Sun', might be tricky. Although he talks like a Sassenach, he actually cheers for Scotland in the rubgy.

Martin's not as specialised as he thought

Who said that quizzes were just a bit of fun? Certainly not Martin Lewis, the "award-winning 34-year-old ultra-specialised journalist, TV & radio presenter and bestselling author" behind

Delight at an invitation to an industry quiz, hosted by the building society Nationwide, soon turned sour for his staff. The ultra-competitive financial hack is thought to have set a test for employees, with only the highest-scorers making the final team. Not that it did them any good – they failed to lift the trophy. Rumours are that Mr Lewis already has his staff swotting up for next year's event.

Lobby hacks relieved of 15-minute trek

The Prime Minister's official spokesman, Mike Ellam, has finally relieved lobby hacks of the burden of the walk to the Foreign Press Association, a whole 15 minutes away from Wesminster in Carlton House Terrace. In the name of convenience, he has told journalists to meet at the more convenient locations of the Treasury and the House of Commons. It was Alastair Campbell who introduced the FPA briefings five years ago in a bid for a more "open and transparent" system, to reduce the influence of the Lobby. Thank God things are back to normal.

Magpies endangered?

Sir Richard Branson is keen to bid for Northern Rock, the troubled bank. He is backed in his takeover endeavours by AIG, the giant US insurer. As well as being proud sponsor of the Newcastle Falcons rugby team, Northern Rock is emblazoned on the kits of Newcastle United FC.

AIG is the proud sponsor of Manchester United FC. Given the fierce rivalry between the two clubs, will something have to give?

Muzzle claims at 'Mail'

Is 'Daily Mail' editor Paul Dacre – already facing near revolt from hacks over his support for Labour – now censoring readers' reactions to his beleaguered friend Gordon Brown? Posters on the Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes political websites complained that they have tried to post criticisms about a leader article in which Mr Dacre praised Labour's pre-Budget report last week. The comments have yet to appear.

Network crash forces BBC to do proper television

So the BBC really is in meltdown. Amid the chaos of BBC1 controller Peter Fincham's delayed resignation and calls for the head of director of vision Jana Bennett, no one seems to have noticed that the place ground to a complete halt on Monday.

The internal network server collapsed for four entire hours, leaving the work experience kids who now seem to be the backbone of the BBC unable to access Wikipedia or other such authoritative sources. Meanwhile the news bulletins had to revert to a heavy use of live broadcasts to cover up the gaps in the system. Graphics wouldn't work, and studio interviews were extended.

Strangely, there were very few complaints from viewers.

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