MEDIA HEADLINER: Allen and Green: odd couple or a match made in heaven?

ITV hopes the two will avoid the fights that helped finish ITV Digital.

To the writers of newspaper headlines they are, of course, the odd couple - because, well, there are two of them and they're such different and potentially incompatible characters. And, yes, they will soon be doing the corporate equivalent of sharing a flat; although it is open to question which of them will be the fey, fastidious Felix who does all the housework and which one will be the sports-loving, cigar-smoking slob, Oscar.

The plot may be driven by a similar tension - whether they should stay together or if it might be better if they go their separate ways.

They are, of course, Charles Allen of Granada and Michael Green of Carlton.

While the merger issue is much bigger than either (or both) of them (it's about the future of British broadcasting), the relationship between the two is a fascinating part of the equation.

There are many hurdles to be surmounted - both regulatory and trading - before ITV becomes one company, with Green as its chairman and Allen the chief executive. But until even half of that is resolved, the focus is bound to remain on trivial issues such as personal chemistry. Actually, they might not be so trivial. One enterprise - ITV Digital - has arguably been blighted by personal disagreements between the two.

Much comment has been made on their differences. So much so that the two men have embarked on a charm offensive to convince the City that they can work well together. Unfortunately, they chose not to bestow this charm on Campaign. But for the record, Green's Jewish background has been compared with Allen's Caledonian heritage - although this may be more of a similarity than a difference. Both cultures believe (with some justification) that they are the chosen people.

Profile writers have tended to hint at all sorts of lifestyle differences between the two men. They point out that Allen, who remains resolutely single, had a father who was a hairdresser; while Green is a family man with children from a brace of marriages.

Green is often described as "incredibly passionate" and is one of the most successful media entrepreneurs this country has ever seen. In 1968, in partnership with his brother, David, and with backing of no more than a couple of grand, he started Tangent Industries, which specialised in printing and photo processing. His great acquisition adventure began in 1982 when he purchased the production facilities outfit Carlton Television Studios.

A decade later, he snatched the London weekday franchise from Thames and there was talk of Green and Carlton eventually making it big on a global stage too.

Allen, in contrast, is a corporate man. He started as an audit manager with British Steel and rose through the middle management at Grand Met before pitching up on the catering side of the Granada empire after it acquired Forte.

Their different career paths have left them with very different world views. "Michael wears his heart on his sleeve and if he believes something he just can't keep quiet," one former Carlton colleague says. "He's volatile. He can scream and shout at people. That creates difficult relationships with people."

But by all accounts, Green is also capable of immense charm and many sources say he has a disarming line in apologies once things have cooled down. On the other hand, it's not hard to find people who say that, on balance, they're glad they no longer work for him.

Allen is a very different kettle of fish. He likes to get things done.

He's methodical, ruthless and driven. He's always trying to prove things to himself but (compared with Green) he doesn't seem to care what people think of him.

Interestingly, sources say that it's actually possible to imagine them working well together. They could bring complementary strengths to the new company - Green the visionary, Allen the practical one .

The doubters say that the biggest potential sticking point is that both men absolutely have to rule the roost. An insider comments: "The great flaw in Charles' character is his insecurity - he just can't face working with anyone who might challenge him. He chooses people to work alongside him who would never in a million years be capable of challenging or replacing him. But it means he will never be able to surround himself with brilliant people. Michael always had brilliant people around him because he's confident in that company."

Many believe this can only work if they are both absolutely clear about what their roles are to be. Green, they say, needs to see this as the crowning glory of his career, the final chapter. But he shouldn't reckon on being there too long.

And Allen, for his part, has to learn to work with rising stars, especially creative people. The talented people in the British TV industry tend to see Granada as a company run by financial people on behalf of the City. But if ITV is to prosper it's absolutely essential to keep the creative people in the boat. And it's a factor that may well become more acute in the medium term because Allen has been buffered from this by the existence of the Network Centre and people such as David Liddiment and Richard Eyre who were good with creative people. One observer says: "Granada has acquired a large chunk of this country's production base. Now the really good producers - and I mean that in the widest sense - must feel comfortable working for Charles."

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