Yesterday it was finally confirmed that Christine Bleakley would follow in the footsteps of Adrian Chiles and leave BBC One’s magazine programme, The One Show, for a lucrative deal with ITV1.
With the departure of both Chiles and Bleakley from The One Show the production is to face its biggest challenge and change in its short history – a history we look back over in this article. From its original one month test run in 2006 with Chiles and Nadia Sawalha through to its current incarnation.
When Adrian Chiles departed The One Show in April it was widely speculated that co-presenter on the magazine programme, Christine Bleakley, would follow suit and jump ships. ITV obviously believe the professional relationship between the two is an essential part of The One Show’s success – which is a formidable rival to Emmerdale in terms of ratings – because the broadcaster is using the duo to front its re-launched breakfast programme later this year.
In the Autumn GMTV as a brand will disappear as ITV tries to turn around the flagging fortunes of its breakfast output with a revamp and name change. According to media reports Chiles and Bleakley will front a new programme – either ITV Breakfast or more simply Daytime – which will be more “newsy” and “serious” in a challenge to the ratings winning BBC Breakfast. Whether the re-launched ITV Breakfast programme, with the duo, will work or not remains to be seen – as does whether The One Show can survive the departures of both presenters. A number of names are now being tipped as replacements for Bleakley such as Fern Britton and Nadia Sawalha and Myleene Klass – both of whom are former presenters of The One Show as we reveal.
Tossed aside: GMTV faces and brand is to be dumped by ITV shortly
The One Show launched in 2006 with a four-week trial broadcast to see if there was an audience for a daily magazine programme. Airing on BBC One in the 7pm slot, against Emmerdale, the beeb launched it in what was deemed a difficult slot given the strong competition of a daily soap opera on ITV airing against it.
The magazine programme could easily have flopped against such strong rival schedule but then again it could be argued there was a market ready to be tapped of those who didn’t watch the soap and wanted a real alternative. The One Show launched on 14th August 2006 with Adrian Chiles and Nadia Sawalha presenting from Birmingham. Sawalha had been an actress and was most notable for her role of Annie Palmer in EastEnders in the 1990s. However, after leaving the BBC soap Sawalha turned to presenting fronting a series of daytime programmes for the BBC and, as a familiar face to audiences, was seen as an ideal face to front the new magazine programme.
The One Show was compared to previous magazine programmes such as Pebble Mill at One and Nationwide. Pebble Mill was a mixture of chat-show and magazine output produced at the BBC Studios in Birmingham of which the show took its title. Running from 1972 to 1986, and later revived in several formats, Pebble Mill was last seen in the tail end of the 1990s. Amongst the many presenters across its run were Fern Britton, Alan Tichmarsh and Magnus Magnusson. As the trial run of The One Show was produced in Birmingham, at the corporation’s Mailbox studios, it was naturally compared to its predecessor. The Pebble Mill studios by this point however had closed two years earlier and were under demolition at the time The One Show hit the air.
Nationwide ran between 1969 and 1983 and was a topical affairs and news programme. Notably consumer rights programme Watchdog began life as a segment in Nationwide before it was spun off into its own programme.
The One Show launched from Birmingham’s The Mailbox studios in 2006.
The trial run of The One Show was deemed a success by BBC bosses with a full series beginning ten months later in July 2007. Nadia Sawalha did not return to the production and instead was replaced by singer and presenter Myleene Klass. Klass had shot to fame for her part in Popstars in 2001 – an ITV reality television series to find the next big pop group. Klass was one of the singers chosen to make up the new pop group – HearSay – best known for their Girlthing cover version debut single, Pure and Simple.
However, the pop group’s success didn’t last long and they eventually spilt up with Klass continuing her musical career but also turning to presenting. Klass’ spell with the show however was short lived. She failed to make a warm connection with audiences. In August 2007 Christine Bleakley was welcomed into the One Show family.
Amongst the other changes made to the show was the move of production base from Birmingham to the corporations White City studios in London. The return of The One Show marked the demise of long-running Holiday, which had been on-air for 37 years, and also Real Story. The beeb scheduled The One Show to transmit virtually all year round, allowing for “guest” presenters to cover for Christine and Adrian when they have been off on holiday. Myleene Klass returned for one such stint as a guest presenters while others have included Matthew Wright, Gloria Hunniford, Paul Merton, Nicky Campbell, Gethin Jones, Gabby Logan and Louise Minchin.
As stated previously The One Show airs opposite Emmerdale but despite the competition from the Yorkshire based soap ratings for the magazine programme have always been healthly. On average the show attracts 4 million viewers but on several occasions its ratings have passed the 5 million mark and during a particularly troubled period in Emmerdale’s run.
The One Show came dangerously closing to passing the soap in the ratings battle in 2008 during Anita Turners somewhat controversial reign as producer on Emmerdale. The One Show’s viewing figures were boosted at one point owing to the controversy of Carol Thatcher’s sacking as a reporter on the series. Carol, daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was one of several regular roving feature presenters for the programme. However, she was dismissed after she made a remark which some deemed to be racist – others argued it wasn’t.
Emmerdale, airing on ITV1, STV, UTV and CTV is The One Show’s biggest ratings rival.
The sacking prompted inches of coverage in the press – in papers such as The Daily Mail – and saw the ratings for The One Show rise as viewers tuned in to see what the fuss was about. Thatcher was one of several regular reporters for the series with others such as Rav Wilding, Phil Tufnell, Kaye Adams, Clare Balding, Matt Alwright and Carol Kirkwood.
To celebrate the shows 400th episode in March 2009 an hour-long edition was aired. This appeared to be a ‘test run’ with the beeb later, in September of the year, beginning a weekly hour-long episode. The 60 minute version usually broadcasts on Wednesday evenings as it is no longer faced with competition from Coronation Street. Traditionally the Manchester soap had aired at 7.30pm on Wednesday evenings but in a major overhaul of its schedules ITV moved the soap to Thursday evenings meaning an hour-long One Show would not have any major competition for the final half hour of the show.
In more recent times, with the arrival of Chris Evans as the Friday host on the show the BBC have decided to switch the 60 minute offering of The One Show to Friday evenings for a more “entertainment” orientated edition. The move by the BBC to place Chris Evans on Friday evenings is believed to have prompted Adrian Chiles to defect to ITV.
Chiles departed The One Show in April 2010 and was replaced by Matt Allwright and Matt Baker with the BBC later announcing that the programme had signed up comedian Jason Manford as a full time replacement for Chiles from July 2010. The future of Bleakley on the series was placed in doubt when ITV announced it was to revamp GMTV and wanted as lead hosts Bleakley and Chiles for their relaunched GMTV.
The corporation offered Christine a new contract and a major role in the revamped The One Show which will launch in the Autumn. However, Bleakley was also offered a lucrative contract with ITV to front the new breakfast programme as well as ‘other projects’ believed to be in prime time. Bleakley ‘dawdled’ on her decision which saw in June 2010 the BBC withdraw its offered contract, leaving Bleakley with no option but to join ITV.