Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan returned to the This Morning sofa today for the first time in 12 years as they took part in a special edition to mark the show’s 25th anniversary.
The fresh-faced husband-and-wife team presented the first edition of the daytime magazine programme from Liverpool Docks on October 3, 1988, and since that time it has become something of an institution.
Over the last quarter of a century, the programme has seldom been away from the headlines, attracting plaudits, criticism and occasional ridicule, and has pulled in millions of viewers in the difficult daytime slot.
While it has won a string of television awards, and praise for raising difficult subjects such as the need for men to check their testicles for prostate cancer, it has also at times stood accused of sensationalism and dumbing down in a rush for ratings. And many of Madeley’s Alan Partridge-like comments have caused much mirth over the years.
Holly Willoughby loses her cool with Katie Hopkins in class row
One of the strangest moments came in 2000, when Madeley thought he would show how cool and ‘with-it’ he was by starting the programme dressed up as spoof television presenter Ali G, and announcing that Richard couldn’t make the show so he would be stepping in instead.
To his wife’s increased irritation, Madeley insisted on continuing the programme speaking in a ridiculous Jamaican patois, and when she finally appeared to be on the brink of losing her patience, he replied ‘Is it because I is black?’
Even more disturbing was the edition when the pair decided to trade places in 1992, although at least it was in a good cause. To raise money for breast cancer relief, Richard took Judy’s place on set, wearing a black dress, court shoes and a blond wig, and many people would have been disturbed at how remarkably relaxed Richard seemed to be in his wife’s clothes. Judy retained a little more dignity, wearing a black suit and one of Madeley’s characteristically garish ties.
The show broke new ground in 1999 when resident doctor Chris Steele carried out what surely must have been the first ever testicle examination on live television. The programme received some praise for bringing a sensitive issue out into the open, although Madeley still managed to include some characteristic foot-in-the-mouth comments.
Not that Madeley had the monopoly when it came to on-screen howlers. Present host Philip Schofield was forced to issue a grovelling apology after ambushing Prime Minister David Cameron during a live interview with questions about sex allegations levelled at politicians. He then handed the Prime Minister a list of names he had gathered from rumours circulating on the internet, brandishing them in full view of the cameras, putting the show at risk of libel action.
Eamonn Holmes also caused jaws to drop when he asked sex-addict Crystal Warren – who claimed to have slept with more than 1,000 men – whether she had ever thought ‘about making a business of it’ and becoming a prostitute.
Another infamous moment during the Richard and Judy era came in 1995 when a streaker intruded into the weather forecast, jumping across the famous outdoor weather map. Unwisely, he was invited back onto the show with Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and spent much of the interview breaking wind.
There was more controversy in 2008, when troubled pop star Kerry Katona, who had in the past battled with drug addiction was interviewed by Schofield and Fern Britton.
Appearing confused and distracted, Katona slurred her words, prompting Britton to ask if ‘she had replaced one addiction with another’.
Katona insisted that she was not drunk, but was suffering the effects of her medication for bipolar disorder, and Schofield later admitted that someone had been ‘irresponsible’ in bringing her in to the studio in her state.
After Madeley and Finnigan quit the show in 2001, they were initially replaced on the Monday-to-Thursday shows by Colleen Nolan and Twiggy, with John Leslie and Fern Britton continuing to present the programme on Fridays. However ratings began to fall, and Leslie and Britton took over the show five days a week.However, Leslie was sacked in 2002 for failing to respond to tabloid allegations about his private life, and was subsequently charged – and then cleared – of indecent assault.
He was replaced by Philip Schofield, and since 2009 his co-presenter has been Holly Willoughby, with husband-and-wife team Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes taking over on Fridays.
But probably the most memorable moment of all came not on the show itself, but when the series was voted the Most Popular Daytime Show at the 2001 National Television Awards. As Madeley and Finnigan went on stage to collect the trophy, Judy’s dress opened, leaving her unwittingly flashing her bra at the audience – and millions of viewers at home.
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