Grade keeps a weather eye on the map (but denies interfering)

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The Independent Online

The mud-brown map of Britain angered politicians, weathermen and viewers alike when it was unveiled in May. It was accused of being ugly, unclear, and of making half of Scotland disappear.

Now it emerges that Grade the BBC chairman, has personally intervened in the row, ordering director-general Thompson to conduct an urgent review of the design.

In an article carried by this week's TV Times, Grade admits: "I had a conversation with the director-general, and I said: 'These green and pleasant hills look like a brownfield site.' So they are dealing with that."

Thompson said: "We've restored Scotland to its proper size and brought back the isobars. We're also looking at getting wind speeds back."

The revelation will leave Grade open to charges of misusing his position, since he's not meant to interfere with programme content.

However, a BBC spokesman insisted Grade's comments hadn't affected official policy. "Some changes have been made, but they're not in direct response to his comments. We have a system that is flexible and easily adaptable."

* There's a cracker of a row being played out in the US media between Naomi Campbell and her former manager, John Casablancas.

In an interview with Complex magazine, Casablancas said Campbell was "unbearable" and gave her "D-minus for behaviour..."

The comments ended up on many news pages, causing Casablancas to send Campbell a brief letter of apology for the way he'd been "interpreted".

Unfortunately, his letter was immediately leaked, provoking a furious e-mail exchange between the two.

"I'm happy to see that my note to you allowed you to save face with the press. Too bad that it was also used to make me look like shit," wrote Casablancas. "For the record, I don't grovel (and you of all people should know that!) and I feel quite comfortable with my contradictory feelings about you: A+ as a person; D- for behaviour with your bookers."

Campbell's reply is yet to enter the public domain, but it's unlikely to contain language suitable for a family newspaper.

* More on Jean-Christophe Novelli's decision to ban the Evening Standard food critics Toby Young and Kate Spicer from his restaurants.

As I reported yesterday, the celebrity chef took exception to the writers' behaviour on a visit to the Hell's Kitchen studio. Now one of those present tells me exactly what happened.

Apparently, Fay Maschler - who was also at Young and Spicer's table - recounted a fruity anecdote concerning Novelli's bedtime habits. It resulted in the libidinous chef receiving a noisy round of applause when he visited their table.

"JC saw them having a laugh at his expense, so forced the Hell's Kitchen producers to hand over a recording of the entire conversation," I'm told. "It consisted of Young and Spicer being particularly rude about both his food and his sexual prowess."

Zut alors!

* I hope Prince Charles isn't on the verge of parting company with yet another key member of his personal staff.

Sir Michael Peat, his private secretary, is understood to have lunched last week with the Business section of The Sunday Times.

This raises two intriguing possibilities: either Sir Michael was engaged in some high-level "spinning", or he is contemplating a career move back to the City.

Either way, the long-suffering Peat could easily be forgiven for wanting out of Clarence House.

Having suffered a recent bout of pneumonia, he returned to work to find himself in the firing line after MPs published a critical report - leaked to this column - on the running of the Duchy of Cornwall.

* Sir Nicholas Serota's latest spat with the Stuckist movement hasn't just got arty types talking - it's also sent a ripple through the world of fashion.

Last week, the Tate director rejected a £500,000 gift of paintings by the Stuckists, saying it wasn't "of sufficient quality in terms of accomplishment, innovation or originality to warrant preservation in the national collection".

Now it emerges that one of those snubbed was Emily Mann, the catwalk model who achieved fame in the channel Five series Make Me A Supermodel.

In a unique double, Mann was both the subject of the collection's best-known work - a portrait by Paul Harvey - and the creator of one of its 159 other paintings.

"Emily's actually a well-regarded figurative artist, and also the face of Stuckism," says a chum. "She's upset at being rejected by Sir Nick, and intends to protest at future Tate events."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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