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Since the Second World War, when the BBC provided news and comfort for a nation in great peril, it has played a central role in British life and culture. That is why any proposals for radical change at the Corporation, or any sign that its standards might be slipping, deeply disturb its loyal admirers.

Alan Davies reveals a 25% BBC pay cut

The actor Alan Davies has offered fans an insight into the cost-cutting taking place at the BBC and said he was worried about production standards.

Last Night's Television: Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC1<br />Location, Location, Location, Channel 4

If it was emotional understatement and his everyman qualities that made Martin Freeman's turn as Tim Canterbury in The Office so effective, then his sentimental brevity in the BBC's family tree magazine show Who Do You Think You Are? was a very different proposition. When watching, it was almost as if Jeremy Paxman, with tears in his nationalistic, self-regarding eyes, was looking down on Freeman with disdain from the Corporation's High Command. We should be primed for some pathos, expectant of some clean-cut, sugar-coated epiphany, something life-affirming and revealing about one of telly's hottest names. It never arrived. That's because genealogy is a scrapyard of crushed dreams, and many people's family trees are bored like Swiss cheese. For the first part of this programme, Freeman let the viewer believe that he was finding it hard to summon up any kind of interest in the distant past's minutiae. You can't blame him; he is a bloke's bloke. We were also told that his father died of a heart attack when he was 10. So he's probably had more emotional turbulence to weather than can be delivered in under an hour by the patina of light entertainment.

Business Diary: BBC casts an envious eye at self-serving Sky?

Love it or loathe it, the one thing you can't criticise the BBC for is holding back when reporting stories concerning the corporation itself. Indeed, plenty of BBC execs have found themselves on the end of tongue-lashing from the likes of Jeremy Paxman or John Humphreys. Those execs must be wishing they worked for Sky, which has an entirely different method for reporting news about its owner, BSkyB. Great set of results, but did they really merit the extended soft-soap gushing report they received high up on Sky News this morning? Diary doesn't think the BBC would have been quite so self-reverential.

The feral beast: 'National' service ends

Just a year after the launch of The National in Abu Dhabi, rumours swirl that Martin Newland is to step down. The former Daily Telegraph editor set up the English-language paper, recruiting several ex-Telegraph hacks to join him.

Credit crisis diary: Apprentice judge has his own problems

Fans of The Apprentice who enjoyed this week's "interview" episode may have been disappointed by the non-appearance of Paul Kelmsley, a close associate of Sir Alan Sugar who has in previous years provided much entertainment with his tough interrogations of the candidates. Sadly, this year, Kelmsley was otherwise engaged – his £500m property empire has just gone belly-up.

Strictly no dancing on a channel that&rsquo;s serious about scientists

Janice Hadlow, BBC2 controller, tells Ian Burrell why science and female brains are the key to a home for the thinking viewer

IoS 1000th issue: 1998-1999, Kim Fletcher:

I had a small, perfectly formed staff, but little money. Thank goodness, then, for our appreciative readership and the clodhopping 'Observer'

John Rentoul: Step down, Gordon, and liberate Labour

The party is delivering, but it will only win votes if it persuades the Prime Minister to make way for Alan Johnson

Pandora: Tony lets his star shine in Hollywood

In what Pandora predicts will go down in history as one of the great unions of modern times, Tony Blair will this week make his mark on Hollywood, hosting a gala dinner in Beverly Hills honouring the "British contribution to the city's cultural and business life".

Paxman to donate brain to charity

Newsnight presenter's bequest to help fight against Parkinson's disease

Good night America: Paxman's US show axed after ratings flop

It's been the Golden Goose for combative Brits such as Gordon Ramsay and Simon Cowell, but Jeremy Paxman has discovered, to his cost, that it takes more than a cut-glass accent and dogged questioning to make it big in America.

John Rentoul: When a presenter should interrupt

Usually, John Humphrys or Jeremy Paxman will interrupt someone in a discussion in order to stop them saying anything interesting or developing an argument. David Dimbleby showed on last week's BBC1 Question Time why he is different and how it should be done.

College stripped of title: It's enough to make Bamber Gascoigne really cross

The mild-mannered former 'University Challenge' quizmaster was surprised at his anger when Corpus Christi lost their crown

BBC investigates University Challenge winners' 'ringer'

The BBC has launched an inquiry into whether the team from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the triumphant finalists in this year's University Challenge, should have been disqualified.

We don't want rematch, say losing quiz finalists

The losing finalists in this year's University Challenge today said they did not want a rematch despite claims a member of the winning team may have broken the rules as he was no longer a student.

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