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Breakfast Time


Daniel Stainsby

This month marks the 40th anniversary of breakfast television launching in the UK. The BBC’s Breakfast Time programme was first to air on January 17th 1983, followed by ITV’s TVam, which launched with Daybreak and Good Morning Britain at the start of February 1983. Next came Sky News Sunrise, which first broadcast in February 1989, and The Channel Four Daily, Channel 4's unsuccessful first foray into breakfast television (succeeded by The Big Breakfast in September 1992).

In the intervening decades there have been a few challenges and hiccups. For example, the “Great Storm” of 1987 knocked out power to both Breakfast Time and TVam’s studios. A fire in 2002 destroyed the Lock Keeper's Cottage, the building used for the Big Breakfast house. Whilst, more recently, in November, BBC Breakfast picked the wrong moment to cut to rugby legend, now fundraising marathon runner, Kevin Sinfield, just as he chose to take a break from his latest challenge to urinate on the side of the road. But by and large, breakfast television has enjoyed enduring success.

My earliest memory of breakfast television is when my father made his one and only appearance on the TVam sofa, back in the late 80s. Having been warned against too much gesticulating, he chose to sit on hands for the entirety of the interview. As such, whilst delivering what I’m sure would have been expert insight as to what was happening with the stock market at the time, he took on the air of a naughty schoolboy being reprimanded. He also corrected the presenter’s summary of what he said during his wrap up. Strange he was never invited back.

Hiccups and muted gestures aside, breakfast TV is in good health. BARB figures show approximately 1.2m tuning into BBC Breakfast and 500K watching ITV’s Good Morning Britain. With these audience numbers and given the timing in the day, these programmes are unsurprisingly key targets for many PR professionals looking to reach and influence vast audiences. 

So, in the (slightly misquoted) words of Alan Partridge, if you’ve got time to give breakfast time your time, then it’s time to spend your time making this time a good time.