Today BBC One’s breakfast programme is celebrating three decades on air with a look back at classic moments, news, guests and former faces from the show which began life in 1983 as Breakfast Time.Since it’s launch the show has had four names – Breakfast Time, Breakfast News, simply Breakfast and currently BBC Breakfast. And its not just the name that’s changed, the format has undergone several revamps, from cosy magazine show to serious news programme and currently a mixture of both.
Breakfast Time was somewhat ‘rushed’ to air in order to beat rival ITV service TV-am, which the beeb managed by two weeks, becoming the UK’s first national breakfast programme. American networks had been producing morning magazine shows for some 30 years by the time Breakfast Time hit the air. The original format mixed cooking, horoscopes, keep fit, traffic, weather and international, national and regional news headlines with celebrity guests, political interviews, sports news, live outside broadcasts and music. A format not expected to be produced by the corporation, the warm relaxed presentation style and even more relaxed informal dress code – warm jumpers a must – took ITV by surprise and left TV-am fighting for survival with their more formal ‘dowdy’ output.
The original line up of presenters comprised of Frank Bough who moved over from sports show Grandstand and BBC evening news programme Nationwide to become main anchor while former ITN News at Ten anchor Selina Scott joined Frank as co-host.
Nick Ross moved over from factual documentaries as the third co-host while sports news was covered by David Icke and keep fit by ‘green goddess’ Diana Moran. Horoscopes were introduced by Russell Grant while the weather was overseen by Francis Wilson. (Below a clip of the first episode of Breakfast Time)
The programme was first revamped in 1987 to be more newsy, with a total overhaul in 1989 into a desk-based news service. The name changed to Breakfast News. In 2000 it was back to red sofa’s and cosy chat as the two formats of Breakfast Time and Breakfast News were merged together, although the horoscopes, keep fit and cookery were left in the past.
Presenters of the show over the years include the late Jill Dando, Mike Smith, Moria Stewart, Nicholas Witchell, Natasha Kaplinsky, Dermot Murnaghan, Sue Cook, Jeremy Paxman and John Stapleton – the only presenter to also appear on all of ITV’s breakfast offerings since 1983.
ITV has struggled in recent years with a winning format for their breakfast offering, the original output TV-am was killed off in 1992 when the television regulator decided to replace the company with a new licence holder, GMTV. At the time of the shows demise it was the most popular breakfast show in the world according to ITV, and was rating higher than the BBC and Channel 4 who had also entered the breakfast arena by this point.
GMTV was axed after 18 years following a series of issues, including declining ratings and a tarnished brand following the programme being exposed as having aired a phone-in competition con which cost viewers money. It’s replacement Daybreak has failed to improve upon its predecessors ratings since it took to the air in 2010.
In 2008 BBC Breakfast marked 25-years on air with a recreation of the original set and a host of familiar faces (pictured below). Last year the programme moved from London to Salford. The show had previously moved between studios in the capital, but it was the first time the series had permanently left the city.
BBC Breakfast at 30, this morning from 6am on BBC One and the BBC News Channel.