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Beeb reprieves Xmas Top of the Pops

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The BBC has quite righty done a U-turn on its shock decision to can the Top of the Pops Xmas special, and viewers will now be able to enjoy Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates presenting the traditional count-down to the Yule number one.

Auntie has further confirmed the pair will also front a TOTP New Year's Eve Special, featuring the poptastic best of 2008.

The change of heart was apparently provoked by pressure from pop stars and politicians, coupled to a threat from The X Factor's Simon Cowell to buy the rights and take the show to the opposition. Cowell recently said: "If the BBC wanted to do a deal, and I can get ITV to buy it and broadcast it, I'd put it on ITV."

This evidently proved too much for the Corporation, which says the festive TOTPs will be "bigger and better" than ever. BBC One controller Jay Hunt proclaimed: "With shows on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, Top of the Pops has never been bigger. The shows will form the centrepiece of a massive musical offering during the festive season that we hope viewers are really going to enjoy."

Fearne Cotton enthused: "I am beyond excited at the thought of a return to the mighty TOTP studios for these one-off shows. Reggie and I feel truly honoured to be able to introduce this year's number one - both shows are going to be huge."

However, a BBC spokesman warned: "This does not signal the return of Top of the Pops". He added that the show was "not up for sale". ®

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