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Classic TV Revisited: Breakfast Time and TV-am

In another of our Classic TV Revisited moments we take a look at the early days of breakfast TV in the UK with Breakfast Time and TV-am.

Channel: ITV, February 1983 and BBC1, January 17, 1983
Starring: Frank Bough, Selina Scott, David Frost, Angela Rippon, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford, Robert Kee.

Age?
A long forgotten 30 odd years each.

Appearance?
Very, very dated morning news programmes.

Pedigree?
The first breakfast TV shows in British history.

Why were they so good?
To be frank, they weren’t.

Why?
To say both had teething problems would be to underestimate the financial and personal wars that ensued.

They must have sounded like good ideas at the time?
Yes, they were top-class homages to American networked morning shows.

Soothing, a bit shallow and generally cheesy, then?
Exactly.

Who were the stars?
Selina Scott joined nice “uncle” Frank Bough on BBC1’s Breakfast Time from January 17, 1983.

And on ITV?
The Famous Five – Rippon, Parkinson, Frost, Kee and Ford.

So what happened?
The BBC kicked off with a mix of news, sport and funnies, introduced by Bough and Scott.

Brough Scott?
No, Bough. Scott was a smooth-as-silk Princess Diana clone who wore rather funny nanny-style dresses.

Wasn’t there a funny lady who looked like an enthusiastic cucumber?
I think you’re referring to Diana Moran, aka the Green Goddess. She became the real star even though Nick Ross was on hand to add gravitas.

Tell me more about the Goddess.
Diana Moran was our answer to Jane Fonda.

Except cheaper.
Of course. But we still felt those burns.

She wasn’t famous, then?
Not really. BBC bosses saw her working on HTV in her green gear and snapped her up.

TV-AM Original 5

The original big 5 heavyweight line for TV-Am showed they were taking a serious approach to early morning viewing. Peter Jay, David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford and Angela Rippon.

What about TV-am?
Its first broadcast was in February 1983. David Frost promised viewers a bowl full of news and showbizz. Fellow TV-am man Peter Jay said he had a “mission to explain”.

But it all turned sour?
And bitter. The ratings went soggy.

What happened?
Peter Jay quit after only six weeks. By April, Anna Ford and Angela Rippon were sacked. Robert Kee and Michael Parkinson stuck around.

But didn’t TV-am survive?
Yes it did. A then little-known TV exec called Greg Dyke decided to introduce Roland Rat.

TV-AM Roland Rat

Roland, the rat that saved a sinking ship…

Don’t tell me it worked.
He was the rat’s whiskers. Anne Diamond arrived with that very pleasant chap Nick Owen.

Hey presto.
They had Selina and Frank trapped. When Roland and his pal Kevin the gerbil appeared in the school holidays in April 1983 ratings rose by a whopping 52%. Anne and Nick owe an awful lot to those puppets.

Didn’t Frank have a spot of bother in 1987?
Indeed he did, but you’ll have to do your own research on that.

Don’t say:
Want some coke with that rum, Frank? Mr Bough can’t talk to you now, he’s a bit tied up.

Do say:
That’s the first time a rat has joined a sinking ship.

Not to be confused with:
Breakfast with Frost, Today, Farming Today, The Rat Catchers.

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