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Morning Glory: A History of British Breakfast Television Paperback – 30 Nov 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Kelly Publications; First edition (30 Nov. 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 190305320X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903053201
  • Package Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 279,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Publisher

The first book to tell the full story of British breakfast television from its inception in 1983 right up to January 2004. A lively account.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


"The last new thing in television"

"This is BBC1. In a few moments it’ll be…Breakfast Time."
As the familiar image of the swirling BBC globe faded, along with the voice of the continuity announcer, the TV screen filled with a shot of the sun rising slowly over London’s Tower Bridge. A pleasant, chiming tune began to ring out, and early morning traffic could be glimpsed making its way across the River Thames. After a minute or so, the music swelled, the picture faded and a brightly segmented motif appeared confirming that this was indeed the start of the BBC’s new breakfast programme.

But what came next was a complete surprise. Cameras revealed that the traditionally rather staid current affairs complex at the BBC’s Lime Grove studios had been transformed into a lush ensemble of deep red leather sofas, lattice-work wall panelling and calm colour schemes. There wasn’t a desk in sight; instead, small tables boasted tea- and coffee-making facilities. Nothing like this had ever been seen on British TV before.

A familiar face loomed into view. "It’s 6.30am, Monday 17 January 1983," he began. Decked out in an fetching pair of slacks and cosy pullover, Frank Bough was undertaking the awesome task of introducing viewers to the unknown and eerie world of breakfast television. "You’re watching the first edition of BBC Television’s Breakfast Time," he continued, "Britain’s first ever regular early morning television programme. A very good morning to you all."

Almost in an instant, the shock of the new was replaced with the allure of the safe and the reassuring. A relaxed and inviting atmosphere was conjured up through Bough’s wise salutation, and it was echoed in the faces of the two younger personalities, Selina Scott and Nick Ross, sitting alongside him. They made it seem perfectly natural to have your television set switched on first thing in the morning. Watching at home, you felt this was a place you were happy to be.

Then, two weeks later, a rival breakfast service began. Against a maelstrom of hype and high promises, ITV’s own early morning programme TV-am took to the air on Tuesday 1 February at 6am. It had already established itself in the public consciousness through relentless promotion of its star presenters and its famous eggcup motif. Now it heralded its debut broadcast with a stunning title sequence involving the crew of HMS Hermes and thousands of volunteers on Bristol Downs spelling out the words ‘Good Morning Britain’.

The cameras came up on a set comprising a collection of paisley sofas, armchairs, wicker tables and a hefty jug of orange juice. An immaculately turned out David Frost greeted viewers with the immortal words, "Hello, good morning and welcome to a new studio, a new news network and a new national network!" Perched alongside him were fellow small screen luminaries Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford and Angela Rippon. From within this rarefied tableau, Frost and co declared their intention to bring elucidation to the country now that they had, "at last, what we always wanted: you".

Robert Kee, the last remaining presenter making up what the press had dubbed breakfast TV’s ‘Famous Five’, reminded viewers, "In case you haven’t noticed, and I don’t really see how you could help it, television history is being made at this very moment." Angela Rippon was even more effusive: "We do hope that you’re going to stay tuned to us, not just for this morning’s programmes, but every morning, every day of the week, at least for the next eight years. Good morning Britain!"

Here were two competing breakfast programmes, two very contrasting styles and approaches, and two very risky and unique experiments in television innovation. Yet, the arrival of breakfast TV in Britain approached the status of a national event. Across the country, people reportedly stayed at home in order to watch the first editions of both Breakfast Time and TV-am to their ends, and witness the moment when their TV landscape changed forever.

In the words of Ron Neil, the creator of Breakfast Time: "It’s the last new thing in television. There’s nowhere else; from now on, it’s downhill."

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