Wide Awake Clubs

So the curtain falls, all woolly and soft, sewn together with silly string and tabloid newspaper. GMTV started its life as the sedate and sensible successor to TVAM, which had made the transition from the very same starting point to pretty much where GMTV would end a generation-or-so later. As this clip shows, there wasn’t a whiff of a sofa or Fiona Phillips’ surgical questioning techniques – “So, Corrs, where did you first meet?” – when the second breakfast television franchise launched…

Breakfast telly in the UK has been a story of limited successes and so many failures. GMTV ended up copying the TVAM sofa-and-slebs model, because it works for the bleary eyed mothers and students who watched. BBC Breakfast has steered towards the format having been diluted from blue desks and stirring opening titles to sofas and magazine format tie-ins.

Channel 4 would find its gold with The Big Breakfast – although only for its middle period before its erratic demise. Four initially launched Channel 4 Daily, a magazine programme which today looks like a cross between EuroNews and The Day Today. Its attempt to become a ‘moving newspaper’ has been mimicked and copied since, ambitious though it was to adopt the sound of a broadsheet Sunday in daily broadcasting. It even included a segment where specially commissioned pieces of modern art would be discussed between presenters in the hope that viewers would do the same. No wonder it didn’t quite have the staying power of its hyperactive successor…

GMTV finally found its feet, in slippers and treading on marshmallow. Cosy and simple, nevertheless vital for politicians, soap actors and pop stars. It was turned effortlessly into This Morning for the dawn brigade, successful enough to be copied despite becoming no different from its predecessor.

The Big Breakfast changed the shape and character of morning telly – although its summer roadshows had been borrowed wholesale from Radio One, its popularity peak was based purely on presenters rather than content. It was successful and its blueprints was copied by others with nothing like the same results. Nobody remembers RI:SE, just as viewers probably have put the BBs own relaunch attempts firmly to the back of their minds – Paul Tomkinson and Donna Air, folks, how could we abandon them so much like used tissues?!.

For the replacement to GMTV, the bosses at ITV have effectively asked the presenters of a latter day Nationwide to front a 21st century TVAM. Adrian Chiles, the chummy friend-down-the-pub hoiked from Match of the Day 2 where he was West Brom’s representative on earth, will take the role of Eamonn Holmes. His partner will be Christine Bleakley, the current squeeze for Frank Lampard (when he isn’t….oh wait, injunction, yeah…) will tone her gloss and tan down enough for the commuter crowd viewers. They have ‘chemistry’, we are told, which is telly speak for ‘they act like a married couple who only get enough sex with other partners’.

Some elements of the breakfast telly agenda seem outdated – why stick with newspaper reviews with readership falling? A summary of popular blog lead stories could alter the sticky relationship between bloggers and TV bosses. Regional output is woefully misused, a few tie-ins with their regional radio stations could lift the BBC Breakfast programming into something distinctive and relevant to viewers. Much to the chagrin of digital radio manufacturers, the majority of the population choose car radios to wake up properly with breakfast DJs.

Saturday children’s shows – Live and Kicking, Going Live – were seen as no longer being fit for the schedules. Their brand of entertainment and music can’t be reinvented, it would be seen as a retrograde step. I can see morning telly going the same way, with the new Daybreak being the last of its kind. Morning schedules will meld and assimilate, the BBC should look at saving money with a full BBC One/News link with help from their radio colleagues. Where we find ourselves in the 21st century is Chiles and Bleakley as the last incarnation of Bough and Scott, to glance at before running off to the bus with toast in mouth and bus-stop in view…

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