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Thursday, 2 September, 1999, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
BBC rejects Skinner's 'ridiculous' demands
Frank Skinner: His demands were too much for the BBC
Comedian Frank Skinner has been dropped by the BBC after he asked for too much money.

The corporation has said that it is to part company with the Fantasy Football star after he reportedly demanded 20m to stay on.

Alan Yentob, the BBC's director of television, walked out of negotiations with Skinner and his management company Avalon on Wednesday.

He said: "The BBC offered what we think is a generous price for a new and wide ranging deal.

"But we are not prepared to agree to Avalon's unreasonable tactics and financial terms, and so have broken off further negotiations with them."

Skinner with friend and colleague David Baddiel
But a spokesman for Avalon said the BBC statement was "damage limitation" and insisted the negotiations were still open.

A former Perrier comedy award winner, 42-year-old Skinner found wider fame on the irreverent BBC Two soccer show Fantasy Football League with friend and co-host David Baddiel.

More recently, he had been drawing audiences of up to 5.8m for his outrageous late night BBC One chat show, The Frank Skinner Show, which featured high-profile celebrity guests including Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But despite his wide appeal with the audience, Skinner's conditions to carry on working for the BBC were branded "ridiculous" by Mr Yentob.

He said that ultimately it would be that same audience who would suffer most from such demands with their possible knock-on effect on the licence fee.

"I do not believe that deals approached in this manner are in the long-term interests of the viewer or the talent, particularly emergent talent," said Mr Yentob.

He went on: "We have no regrets about developing Frank in the way that we did, bringing Fantasy Football League to the screen and growing the Frank Skinner Show, so we wish Frank all the best."

Nonetheless, on Wednesday night, Skinner's management company Avalon expressed surprise at the BBC statement.

A spokesman for the company said: "Only 10 minutes before, BBC One controller Peter Salmon was talking to Frank's manager, and as far as we are concerned negotiations are still on."

The BBC's decision to drop the comedian follows news that his Fantasy Football League partner David Baddiel signed a 5.5m with Sky Premier to develop a 22-episode sitcom.

See also:

08 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Skinner joins Art cast
01 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Baddiel reaches for Sky
12 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Skinner's 'insensitive' joke slammed
02 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Mad about the boys
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