POSTED MARCH 14 2010
Mr Lee said that there are many Welsh voices on the circuit whose profiles – and fees – are rising.
He said: “It is interesting that we are hearing more Welsh accents on the circuit, that is true.
“But to some extent, someone like Rhod Gilbert has become a huge hit on the corporate circuit before his public fame, just because he is a funny man.
“He made his name well before making his name in the media – we are the biggest at what we do and we have championed Rhod for a few years so his profile was perhaps only bigger in Wales than on our circuit.
“People just seem to like hearing a Welsh accent. It’s rather nice to hear it and one could argue that it lends itself well to storytelling.”
The kind of people that might hire some of Wales’ finest range from corporations throwing swanky functions, an organisation’s awards ceremony and even some individuals’ lavish parties.
“Why would you book famous people?” said Mr Lee.
“There are only two rational reasons, every other reason is irrational,
“You either want to put bums on seats or impress your audience so much that they go home, lean over their garden fence and say ‘guess who I saw last night’.
“If you take Ian Hislop as an example – a speaker of his calibre tells the audience something they didn’t know, about someone or something they do know.
“It is his insider’s take on what many people see on Have I Got News For You and what happens in all the Private Eye libel cases. He will give you stuff that you wouldn’t have read elsewhere.
“Rob Brydon is a fantastic awards host. Perhaps a bit of his popularity is connected to Gavin & Stacey, but he had made his mark on this circuit long before that show.
“He can read an audience and the popularity of Gavin & Stacey probably helps in this respect because the audience instantly warms to his character – and how can that be anything other than good effect on a non-Welsh audience?
“I’m a believer that generally, nationality is irrelevant when it comes to whether someone is funny or not.
“But with some it informs their humour. Rhod Gilbert plays up the naïve Welsh village idea and bases his comedy on that with enormous flair. And he will see that as profile increases more likely the ‘market’ will be at work and he could command higher fees.
“Hopefully, there will be many more Welsh comedians following in footsteps of Gilbert and Brydon as they have fulfilled a very useful purpose.”
Other Welsh figures available for hire include several BBC presenters – Today programme host John Humphrys, newscaster Huw Edwards, BBC Wales news presenter Sian Williams and Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen.
This is despite the BBC ordering that the agency removes news presenters’ details from its website and issuing a ban on personal appearances without permission – and on the proviso that it does not affect the Corporation’s impartiality.
Bosses have been worried that presenters are seen to be cashing in while swingeing cuts are made to services – like controversial plans to close digital radio station 6 Music and the Asian Network.
But if you are looking for a bargain presenter for your party, look no further than Cardiff’s own Lynn Bowles – the Radio 2 morning traffic reporter is one of only a handful to fall into the E bracket and is available for a snip at “up to £1,000”.
POSTED MARCH 7 2010
BIG-EARNING Jeremy Paxman is leading a stampede of BBC news stars to earn a bit extra on the side - and boy do they charge!
While lowlier Beeb staff face cutbacks and job losses, a News of the World investigation reveals Newsnight hardnut Paxo pulls £25,000 AN HOUR for personal appearances on top of his £1 million taxpayer-funded salary.
Our photo gallery price list shows colleagues like Huw Edwards and The One Show grouch Adrian Chiles command similar fees for speaking engagements on the side. Even lowly Radio 2 travel girl Lynn Bowles cops a traffic-stopping £1,000 a time.
Since 2003 BBC rules have decreed staff must ask permission first and should NOT sign up with agencies to promote their services. But prominent corporate agent JLA represents dozens and has only just been forced to remove news presenters and reporters from its website. But it adds: "They are still permitted to take on outside engagements providing it fits BBC guidelines - and many are keen to do so."
Profiles of Paxman, Business Editor Robert Peston and talk show host Andrew Marr have already vanished from the site but a JLA agent assured an undercover reporter they were ALL up for hire.
The Beeb, which announced sweeping cutbacks this week, including the closure of BBC6 Music and the Asian Network and the trimming of BBC online, does not want to risk fresh controversy after weeks of negative headlines.
A BBC source told us last night: "The bosses are going to be jumping all over this. They never used to worry about the news guys going out and earning a bit extra. But with all the controversy over cost-cutting and big salaries it's a sensitive climate at the moment.
"Now these gigs have to be cleared by management and can be really frowned upon."