Presenter's top goes to bottom of class as TV proves a damp squib

WHAT would the Rev I M Jolly have made of it all?

Those sorry souls who opted against an arctic street party celebration in favour of a homely Hogmanay with a wee dram, a round of shortcake and a snug seat in front of the box, were left channel-hopping in despair.

The BBC's Hogmanay Live show was criticised primarily because of Jackie Bird's alarmingly revealing plunging


Scottish Television was condemned for being fake and pre-recorded.

Police and met office forecasters embarked upon a futile exercise on Sunday when they urged revellers to be sensible and celebrate the New Year indoors.

The sensible ones had already checked the TV schedules, and knew that a fireworks extravaganza plus Bjorn Again, Teenage Fanclub or Moby, even watched in sub-zero temperatures through a driving snow storm, was, by far, the most appealing way to bring in a brand new year.

The alternatives were: that top, interspersed with performances from the Proclaimers, Eddi Reader and Ricky Ross, all excellent artists who had their heyday around a decade ago; or the bubbly duo Alison Craig and Stephen Jardine, who did their very best to pretend that it was 10, nine, eight seconds to midnight, when every viewer was only too well aware that it was, in fact, about 8.30pm on an early December night some three weeks ago.

John Davidson, The Herald's fashion director, speculated that Ms Bird was following in the perilously high-heeled footsteps of such tele-babes as Carol Vorderman.

But Ms Bird was having none of it. ''My gingham, laced-top pinafore was at the cleaners and it was all I had in the wardrobe,'' she said.

''Anyway, I work damn hard to get into something like that and Hogmanay is the only time to wear it. Your fashion director should join the 21st century.''

BBC and ITV were ignoring the critics yesterday and defending their Hogmanay schedules. The BBC claimed to have won the ''battle of the bells'' - the viewing figures for the critical half hour between 11.45pm and 12.15am.

A BBC spokesman claimed that early figures showed that 1.2m people, which represents a 64% share of the audience, tuned into Hogmanay Live, the show presented by Ms Bird with Dougie Vipond.

He said 268,000, 15% of the audience, watched Scottish's The Hogmanay Show.

Ken MacQuarrie, the head of programmes at BBC, said: ''The Hogmanay package was a very strong mix of comedy, music and entertainment, aimed at every age group and the response of viewers - who appear to have tuned in in their hundreds of thousands - is extremely


Sandy Ross, the managing director of Scottish Television, said: ''We were very pleased with our show. It was a good, lively, traditional Hogmanay show.''

But on the quiet streets of Glasgow yesterday, those who had spent the bells stuck in front of the box were slightly less enthusiastic.

Tony Mallon, a 32-year-old chef from Glasgow, was initially glued to the BBC.

''Only an Excuse was great and Chewin The Fat was even better,'' he said. ''But then what happened? It was not very Scottish. I switched over to watch Donnie Munro and the Alexander


David McManus, a 45-year-old office worker, said Scottish Television's Hogmanay Show was ''fake'' and ''obviously pre-recorded''.

''I preferred the bands on the show but switched over and caught Jackie Bird singing. She may not have looked great but she sounded fantastic. She has a latent talent there.''

Adam Ford, a 21-year-old marketing student, making his early-morning way home from a party, said: ''Anyone sad enough to stay in on Hogmanay deserves to be subjected to crap TV.''