Yes he was overpaid, yes he courted controversy that the BBC could well do without, but while the corporation may be secretly relieved about Jonathan Ross’s exit in the short-term, he leaves an enormous gap that it will struggle to fill, writes Lisa Campbell.
There are few presenters with the versatility of Ross. He’s a fantastic frontman for big events such as the Bafta’s and Comic Relief, but his skill in hosting the edgier stuff is second to none, even if, in the eyes of the BBC and the Daily Mail, he has pushed it too far during the past 18 months.
Throw in his chatshow which attracts some of the biggest stars and has been a staple of Friday night TV for years, his movie review and radio show, and you can begin to see why Ross is such a peerless broadcaster.
It may not be clear as to where he will end up, but what is crystal clear is that he will never get a deal of this size ever again. That it contributed a major part in his being driven out of the BBC emphases that - going forward - the corporation should strive to keep salaries at sensible levels, but should never be forced to publish them.
So where next? In the current climate it is unlikely that Ross will be able to secure a golden handcuffs deal. A more likely outcome is that he will work across broadcasters. He’s already said he will continue with the BBC specials like Comic Relief and it would surprise few if he weren’t having conversations with ITV.
After all, he’s already got a good working relationship with its entertainment and channel boss’s - Elaine Bedell and Peter Fincham - who both worked with him at the BBC, and as the genre becomes increasingly important to the broadcaster, it makes sense to get bigger names on board. Indeed, ITV could do with a few more marquee names like Ross’s, being over-reliant on too few such as Ant & Dec.
Rarely coming up in the marketplace, ITV would do well to grab such opportunities while it can.
Meanwhile, Ross could do edgier work for Channel 4, his spiritual home, and give a much-needed boost to its Friday night comedy/entertainment line-up.
And he could be tempted by Sky if it had the right project for him. While the ratings may not be what he’s used to, the broadcaster would certainly throw marketing weight behind whatever he did and ensure that, profile-wise at least, it would be a winner.
Ross may be off our screens for some time, but there’s no doubt he’ll be back with a bang.
Lisa Campbell is editor of Broadcast