HUMAN calculator Carol Vorderman was asked to take a pay cut in direct proportion to her loss of attractiveness, it was claimed last night.
Sources at Channel Four say the walking abacus, now in her early 70s, no longer commands the same loyalty amongst Countdown's vast army of sexual under-achievers.
One senior executive said: "In the mid-80s and 90s a typical cross-section of the audience would have been students with one hand on a Pot Noodle and the other buried firmly in their underpants.
"Those students have grown up and now achieve intense sexual gratification from watching a couple of bespectacled freaks generate a series of tedious five letter words.
"Carol's every bit as good at arithmetic as the day we built her, but she's basically held together with gaffer tape and bits of old chewing gum."
Friends of Vorderman said she will now be forced to encourage home owners to borrow money in the depths of a recession, while 'promoting the crap' out of her 28 day piss-drink detox.
Meanwhile Channel Four insiders revealed the star was told to calculate her pay cut using six random numbers, before being shown an anagram of 'First Plus'.
A Channel Four spokesman said last night: "Carol Vorderman made the fatal error of thinking she was bigger than Countdown.
"Let this be a warning to EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU: No-one is bigger than Countdown."