Sunday, 21 February 2010

Weekday Morning TV Finds a Pulse...Helped by 917 Pigeons in Trafalgar Square

the 1st tv am

From the 1st February 1983, TV-AM breaks onto our screens, 2 weeks after the BBC's first ever foray into plush, cosy sofa and woolly jumpers which was "Breakfast Time. Before then, there was absolutely nothing on daytime TV, never mind breakfast TV! In the very early days it was blank, then came along the test cards and ceefax pages. It felt almost brain dead, not forgetting the no-frills Open University programmes, perhaps interesting for bores like me, but terribly twee and boring for some.

In this clip, it's genuine continuity featuring a long version of the TV-AM theme. If you want to to just go to the iconic TV-AM intro, go to 2 mins 15 secs into the youtube video, and also see those first words by one of 5 presenters for the show, the main, main anchor of the show, David Frost. The team of five were interviewers David Frost and Michael Parkinson and newscasters Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Robert Kee. The famous five were also shareholders in the TV-AM franchise, believe it or not. The intro is done on a large scale, really pinning down the fact this is a must-see evolution/revolution of Breakfast TV. Frost gives us a lowdown on all the particiapants that helped form the slogan of TV-AM "Good Morning Britain". Parachutists/sky divers, the people of Bristol, the British Navy and "917 pigeons of Trafalgar Square". How do they know that? And how did they get them to form the word "Morning"? Alright, probably carefully designed metal cased lettering frames with snacks in them. Mystery solved.

Now, there is no Anne Diamond or Nick Owen here at this point! This first version of the show was well, you couldn't say a flop with such distinguished stars of the show, but there was no chemistry between the presenters, and Parkinson and Frost, perhaps too stuffy for what was suppoesed be a more relaxed form of news and lifestyle output. TV-AM ran from 6am-9.15am originally, but extended to 9.25 am later.

4 of the 5 presenters were dumped, the exception being David Frost, who would be moved from main presenter to the more familiar territory of Politics. TV-AM still struggled financially and with ratings but gradually improved in 1984 under Diamond's and Owen's chemistry. The best Breakfast TV shows always seem to be the ones where the main male and female are good at fabricating themselves as a married couple, bickering but never awkward for a moment together.

So this is when TV-AM improved, with of course Roland Rat and later Timmy Mallett's "Wacaday" for the kids, and you had a real good cast of some strong presenters like Richard Keys, keep-fit extradinaire Lizzie Webb, Chris Tarrant in the summer, creepy Jeremy Beadle in his "Today's the Day" section, David Icke in the sports department, before he went mad, the bubbly Lorraine Kelly near the end of the franchise's run, Ulrika Jonsson as the weather girl, and who can forget cheerful, mustached Mike Morris, who seems to have disappeared from TV since TV-AM lost the right to broadcast, after being outbidded by GMTV (Good Morning TeleVision)?
TV-AM lost their franchise beginning from New Year's Day in 1993, their last edition the day before. This was also the day Thames Television lost their franchise of ITV's London region, but whose programmes were also known nationally, replace by Carlton Television. The result of this also saw a more centralised ITV as some regional TV regions were merged or their output was reduced.

I hear it all the time, many say TV-AM would've been doing a much better job than GMTV, which is now less news-focused and more about showbiz and entertainment news, but it is now a long time ago over 17 years since TV-AM, when "zleb" culture did not carry about the "famous for nothing" mantle. Who knows?

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