Thanks Jason - I hadn't thought of assigning the background attribute to the html element but it did the trick.
I think it's a little extreme to say that IE is stunting and retarding the future of the web. Standards are important, but only if they are good standards. Personally I think the XSLT standard is flawed in one major aspect - it relies upon a processing instruction to be embedded in the XML document which is being transformed. This defeats the central objective of having pure data in an XML document. IMHO an XSL stylesheet should import the XML document it is to transform. The it would truly be possible for an XML document to be transformed by several different stylesheets.
End of rant - once again thanks for the assistance.