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This Morning marks 35th anniversary with Richard Madeley

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This Morning marks 35th anniversary with Richard Madeley

During today’s This Morning, a throwback clip from the first ever episode was aired, to celebrate 35 years of ITV1’s troubled daytime show.  

The clip of husband and wife duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan welcoming daytime television to ITV and explaining the show’s format to the viewers at home, live from Liverpool’s Albert Dock, was shown at 10.40am – the exact time at which the original episode first played out for the first time across the airwaves.

Richard Madeley discussed the nerves he felt 35 years ago to the day: “Of course we were nervous, it was a huge leap into the dark. There had been nothing like it on British television before, daytime television didn’t exist [There had been daytime television on ITV at various points right from its very first weekend on air in 1955, but is often forgotten about these days].

“Finally ITV decided it should and they went to America and looked at American daytime shows and they came back with lots of ideas and then all the different ITV companies, Granada, Yorkshire Television, Thames Television, Central, all of them, they all made a pilot for this new show that was going to be called This Morning.” 

The first episode of This Morning, as aired in 1988

He continued: “I think one of the reasons Judy and I won it for Granada was Liverpool, that set there was amazing. That big pane glass window behind us, there was a real view, the lovely red column aids of the Albert Dock, Victorian dock. It had a real breath of fresh air about it, all the other pilots were done in studios, we did it somewhere real and it was Liverpool. I just think the Liverpool atmosphere came through the show.” 

On being involved in a new show format, Richard explained: “It was 35 years ago, right now, 1988. We were told pretty firmly by ITV that if it didn’t work, we would be off the air by Christmas. We had a one year contract, there was a lot of snobbery around in those days about daytime television, it was seen as inferior somehow, not proper television. 

“There was a lot of willingness… for it not to work. Which actually gingered us up and made us more determined to make it work and boy, did we work hard to get it on the air.” 

Noele Gordon hosts Lunch Box, which was one of ITV’s first long-running daytime programs

Richard explained that viewers have been at the heart of the show for the last 35 years:  “That’s one of the things we said towards the backend of that very first show. Judy and I scripted it in, ‘can we just make one thing clear, this is your show. This isn’t our show, it’s not ITV’s show, it’s not Granada’s show, it belongs to you, we’ll give you what you want but let us know’. 

“This was in the days before social media so people had to ring in and write in. But yeah, the show was very much evolved and carved itself out based on what the viewers wanted and it still does. It belongs to the viewers.”

ATV launched a morning magazine show in September 1955, The Week-End Show. There was also a weekday soap opera from Associated Rediffusion Sixpenny Corner. However, due to television regulations – which may seem ridiculous now – ITV was only allowed to transmit a set number of hours per day.

Ultimately due to financial constraints daytime programmes on ITV were moved later in the day to reach a larger audience. Lunch Box proved the first major success for ITV Daytime from 1956 to 1964, with 1000s of letters received every day and impressive ratings. Live outside specials also drew thousands of viewers – over 30,000 to one such live broadcast..

This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV1, STV, ITVX and STV Player

Richard and Judy, back in 1988 (top) and as guest hosts in 2020 (bottom)

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