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Why Daybreak's axing is inevitable
Daybreak's former presenters: Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley
If reports in the media are to be believed - and in this instance, I do believe them - ITV is axing Daybreak, its £10million breakfast flop. Talk about chaos with your cornflakes.
The Mirror says ITV bosses "fear Daybreak is still associated with flop presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley and want to return to a GMTV-style setting to win back fans."
Return to a GMTV-style? Keen-eyed viewers have already spotted that GMTV-isms crept back in even while disastrous hosts Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley were still on the show. Remember Daybreak's purple sofa, for example? That's back to GMTV red.
The GMTV era
When GMTV first came on air back in 1993, it basically copied the format of TV-am, its predecessor. GMTV learned the vital lesson Daybreak failed to grasp; if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
"GMTV learned the vital lesson Daybreak failed to grasp"
Let's go back to November 2009; ITV plc took over control of the station after buying out The Walt Disney Company.
With the sale ratified, it didn't take long for the changes to start to ring. Initial cullings all took place off screen, but by March 2010, the on-screen talent was coming under the scrutiny of the new bosses.
Long-time newsreader, the perennially sardonic Penny Smith, was first against the wall, as the new regime began to formulate major changes for the station. But it was the 2010 acquisition of the BBC's disgruntled The One Show presenter Adrian Chiles that resulted in further seismic activity on the sofa.
GMTV's Ben Shephard jumped ship before he was pushed to make way for Mr Chiles. Andrew Castle and Emma Crosby followed Ben Shephard out of GMTV's revolving door - in came Christine Bleakley who'd signed a mega-contract to reunite with her former The One Show partner.
Back in the summer of 2010, the prospects had seemed so positive. ITV Chiefs were positively crowing about their double whammy acquisition of Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.
"In came a garish new set, new title sequence and a new name"
In came a garish new set, new title sequence and a new name. Where GMTV had supposedly grown a bit stale, Daybreak was to offer up a fresh start to the day.
The launch back in September 2010 saw just over a million people tuning in.
However, as the novelty of watching a one-time teatime team turn up over morning toast faded, viewers began to drift away. Daybreak's dynamic duo took the plaudits on day one (the reviews were overwhelmingly positive), now they have to take the criticism. Instead of building on its great start, their incarnation of Daybreak steadily bled viewers.
Just over a year after launch, it was goodbye to its highly-paid presenters. Chiles and Bleakley were axed, but the damage has been done. As it currently stands, on average, BBC1's Breakfast programme is being watched by nearly twice as many people.
Clearly something went terribly wrong - but what?
Daybreak dawns... and sets
Inevitably you have to start with the presenters. Breakfast television is a format that is extremely tricky to perfect. The big problem is that, perhaps more than any other kind of magazine programming, it's all about the likeability of its presenters.
"it's all about the likeability of its presenters"
In the early hours of the morning, audiences aren't that fussed about exploring any single issue in any great detail, and we can't be bothered to get our head around complicated format points.
Most of us just don't have the time. What we want is some likeable people helping us start the day in a reasonably informed, low-key sort of a way.
In that respect, Christine Bleakley was perhaps just a little too perky for first-thing-in-the-morning viewing, while Adrian Chiles' problem was that he was too far the other way; too languid, too cynical, and too "grumpy" - according to a vocal section of female viewers, the bread and butter of breakfast TV.
The chemistry that had made them hugely popular on The One Show was largely missing in action on ITV.
Meanwhile, over at the BBC, the roster of jolly news readers (headed up by Bill Turnbull) presided over their morning show with effortless brilliance. They are likeable enough, but better yet, they manage not to impose their own personalities all over your morning cuppa.
But aside from Christine and Adrian, here's where Daybreak committed its biggest mistake; it thought it was too good for the tried and trusted comfy breakfast formula GMTV had perfected.
Daybreak wasn't going to be like all the other breakfast television shows; it was going to be "different". Fair enough, but its pretensions of being a light entertainment show couldn't possibly be realised, despite ill-judged segments such as Four Poofs and a Piano rounding up the news in song on Fridays (a short-lived cringe-fest).
The upshot of ignoring its predecessor's foundations were calamitous; in effect, Daybreak said it was above the 30% share of housewives and young mums GMTV had enjoyed in late 2009. Key chunks of the alienated audience drifted away and, as yet, they haven't returned.
Daybreak now embraces what it once eschewed, and is GMTV in all but name. But it is a tarnished brand; little wonder it's said to be facing the axe.
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