BARCELONA: Did someone slip a copy of Michael Hicks' bestseller Warwick the Kingmaker into Sir Martin Sorrell's briefcase as he set out for Morgan Stanley's Technology, Media & Telecoms conference in Barcelona earlier this week?

A fleeting behavioural similarity between Sir Martin and the 15th century Earl of Warwick may have been apparent to those who cupped an ear to his speech at Wednesday's opening session of the three-day talkfest.

In his address to the courtiers of the media and financial worlds, the 21st century knight felt the urge to play kingmaker and declared his allegiance to Michael Jackson, the former BBC and Channel 4 executive now hyped as the potential saviour of beleaguered UK television giant ITV.

Jackson, who is currently employed stateside by Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp, is Sorrell's "much needed" choice for the vacant throne of ITV chief executive - abdicated earlier this year by Charles Allen after a palace coup.

Jackson, proclaimed Sorrell, would be "a fantastic choice . . . a much needed choice." His strong creative record was badly needed at ailing ITV - Britain's largest commercial broadcaster, now embroiled in merger discussions with US-owned NTL Group.

Opined Sorrell of the Great White Hope: "He's a product person. ITV doesn't need a manager."

And Sir Martin, as usual, is probably right.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff