I’m far too lazy to watch breakfast TV these days.
I’d rather hit the snooze button, snatch an extra 15 minutes in bed, than race out of the front door with seconds to spare, armed with a luke-warm piece of soggy toast.
But switching on the gogglebox first thing in the morning for a dose of current affairs or banale banter has been part of many people’s daily routines for 30 years.
This week, big-money signing Susanna Reid took over the steering wheel of ITV’s very own Titanic that is their breakfast TV slot. Holed below the water line, and leaking viewers at an alarming rate, it’s been sunk in the ratings war by the good ship Auntie.
So, can BBC defect Susanna, championed as the twinkle-toed golden child, save ITV’s ailing production with Good Morning Britain? Based on her sizeable salary, that’s most definitely the £1 million question.
She’ll no doubt have brought a few loyal fans over from the Beeb this week, but I’ll wager she’ll have her work cut out to make up any serious ground on her former employers.
Having spent 12 years on the breakfast sofa, Fiona Phillips knows a thing or two about the perfect recipe. And she says: “Breakfast TV is part of people’s routine, and they get very cross if you ruin it.”
Imagine, then, how incandescent the ITV audience must be. Since Daybreak took over from GMTV in 2010, the show has changed front-line faces faster than a Premiership football club.
Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley lasted little more than a year, and the subsequent procession has included Kate Garraway, Dan Lobb, Matt Barbet (who?), Aled Jones (why?), and Lorraine Kelly. Even David Moyes got a longer crack at Old Trafford than that.
Yet, while the on-screen pack is constantly shuffled, the people behind the scenes remain largely unchanged, essentially peddling the same recipe, with different faces and fresh wrapping paper.
One person who knows exactly how Susanna would have been feeling this week is Nick Owen, the former Shrewsbury School pupil who now presents BBC Midlands Today. He helped turn round TV-am in the ‘80s after the likes of David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford and Angela Rippon failed to connect with viewers.
And in his view, hiring someone on a sky-high salary immediately alienates viewers. It’s chemistry, not economics, which will always be most important.
And forgive me if I’m in a minority of one here, but I just don’t get the big Susanna love-in. To me, she’s saccharine and insincere. Polished, yes, but to the extent of a star pupil trying too hard to please their drama teacher.
I happen to think that ITV’s best signing is the far less heralded, more approachable Charlotte Hawkins, pick-pocketed from the Sky News Sunrise show.
When push comes to shove, though, it doesn’t actually makes much difference who is in the breakfast TV chair. More people watch BBC because it’s an institution (with no commercials), but fewer switch on their tellies at all because breakfast TV has largely lost its relevance in the modern world.
Busy families have two or three screens at the breakfast table these days, immersed in the social media world with their tablets, laptops and phones.
And breakfast TV’s role in this multi-channel, multi-media world isn’t entirely clear.Subscribe to our Newsletter