It's good news and bad news, I guess. The good news is that we sold out all 3000 tickets for this year's Sports Personality Of The Year in Birmingham within an hour of the box office opening this morning. The bad news is obviously that we can't accommodate any more people within the NEC and it turned out to be a fleeting opportunity to buy. But 3000 members of the public is, I hope, better than the zero in previous years; and we want the audience to contribute to the atmosphere of the show - which I'm sure they will.
Meanwhile, the debate about SPOTY continues in the papers...
I should say that we sometimes have a go back when we're criticised in the press, but for the most part we have friendly relations with newspapers and it's good there's an argument - whether we agree with it or not.
So in that spirit let me note the current threads of that debate. The first is to say that SPOTY is a tired old programme and there isn't a genuinely winning personality this year anyway - so why not give it up? But this is slightly oddly accompanied by more articles than ever before about who might or might not be in the running. This year, as my colleague Carl Doran has noted, has been more of a roller-coaster than most with the bookies' favourites changing from Monty Panesar to Zara Phillips to David Walliams and now to Darren Clarke. We agree the programme needs refreshing creatively - hence the move to Birmingham and the studio audience - but it feels strange to argue that a programme that generates so many column inches is no longer relevant. As this blog has shown, people do care.
The second is the comment that we have the award show but there's no BBC film to accompany it. This is a joke first made at least 20 years ago - how we pretended to laugh! - but it's not true at all in 2006. Let's imagine for a moment that Sky or ITV had this programme: in which case they would not have their own archive from the Open Golf or Wimbledon or the Winter Olympics or the Six Nations or the Commonwealth Games - or from the FA Cup (ITV) or the World Cup (Sky). The fact is that we traditionally share other broadcasters' material for SPOTY because in a multichannel world nobody has everything, but many of the year's biggest moments were on the BBC.
So we're looking forward to being in Birmingham in December for the most open competition in years - and Carl and his colleagues on the programme are sifting through your comments and doing their best to incorporate them into the programme. If you're lucky enough to have got one of the 3000 tickets, we'll see you on the night; but if not we'll do our best to make it a great show on BBC One from 7pm to 9pm on December 10th.