'Restoration' saved, but BBC pulls down Griff Rhys Jones

Experts on heritage to replace celebrity front man as series on old buildings is revived for new series

In the Noughties it was a winning TV formula: find some endangered old buildings, pay a big name to campaign on their behalf, and get the public to decide which one to save. Now the BBC is resurrecting Restoration, only this time, in tune with the age of thrift, the celebrity figurehead has been left out in the cold.

Griff Rhys Jones, the comedian who made his name as one half of Smith and Jones, will not be presenting the BBC's next flagship heritage series, which has already begun filming. He has been replaced by three lesser-known presenters, believed to be experts from the fields of architecture and history. The revelation follows last week's announcement by presenter Jonathan Ross that he will cease working for the BBC in July, when his £18m contract ends.

Last night a BBC spokesman was keen to play down suggestions Rhys Jones had been dropped because of cost, saying the new programme would be different from Restoration, and "may have a different name". But he confirmed that the working title remains Restoration and that it is being made by Endemol, the company behind the first three series. The series editor is also the same. Rhys Jones declined to comment, but his agent said: "Griff doesn't have a contract with the BBC so it isn't a matter or having it renewed or not."

The revelation comes in the wake of sustained criticism of the BBC over the inflated salaries of its presenters. Speaking on BBC 2's Newsnight following the announcement of Ross's departure, Alan Yentob, the BBC creative director, said: "We're going through difficult times. Most people believe a sacrifice has to be made, so it is going on, but I don't think it needs legislation to ensure that it does." Asked if there was going to be "a lot more of people working for less", Yentob replied "I think there is actually."

Since the recession began, anger over the BBC's use of the licence fee has grown, with the telephone-number salaries of newsreaders and executives drawing most criticism. Several TV and radio presenters have agreed to pay cuts in recent months, including Graham Norton, Chris Moyles and Bruce Forsyth. But others, such as Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson and Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman are said to have resisted the moves. Although the BBC refuses to disclose how much it pays its talent, Paxman is widely believed to earn £1m a year for his work on Newsnight and University Challenge, while Clarkson's deal is worth an estimated £2m. Newsreader Fiona Bruce, who also presents Antiques Roadshow, poured scorn on the multimillion-pound earning of her colleagues, while refuses to discuss rumours that she earns between £400,00 and £500,000.

Novelist P D James recently used her guest editorship of the Radio 4's Today programme to grill director-general Mark Thompson over his £800,000 salary, and likened the BBC to "a large and unwieldy ship".

It is unknown how much Rhys Jones was paid to present Restoration, but losing the job is bound to be a blow: last year he disclosed he had lost a large sum of money in a hedge fund following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

A BBC spokesman said: "Griff is a very talented presenter. But if you're saying he is the only person who can present a heritage programme I have to disagree. We're not trying to make a cheaper version of Restoration."

Rhys Jones continues to work on other BBC projects, including Rivers, a series in which he explores hidden waterways. Angler Charles Rangeley-Wilson claims he pitched the idea to the BBC some time ago but that the show was made with Rhys Jones, a more famous name.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence