The Big Breakfast (Channel 4, 1992-2002)
About four years after The Channel 4 Daily started, the decision was made to launch a new entertainment breakfast show which would go on to be a big success. The Big Breakfast was a live show that every weekday for two hours would feature a lively mix of interviews, news, cartoons and lots more. The show came from a big house in Bow and it was produced by Bob Geldof’s production company Planet 24. This review isn’t going to be a comprehensive history of the show, I’ll just be sharing a few memories.
The choice of hosts for the show were important and helped to get the show off to a good start. There was Chris Evans who I remember watching on a short-lived show on TV-am so I knew that he was going to be a good choice, and he was alongside Gaby Roslin who presented a few series of the CITV Saturday Morning show Motormouth. They did work very well together and when they came along in 1992 they certainly made the final few months of TV-am look rather dull by comparison.
They were joined by Paula Yates who would always end the show by interviewing a big star on her bed, the latest news coverage from Peter Smith, Mark Lamarr out and about, and the crazy puppet duo Zig And Zag who had already been a big success on TV in Ireland and were always reliable for a laugh. There were so many great moments in the early days that there was even a VHS released of the best moments.
Part of the reason the show was so successful was because Chris enjoyed going to great lengths to entertain and of course I liked the game show element where viewers could phone in to win prizes in such memorable games as Stop The Mop and Guess The Mess. Unfortunately Chris’s appearances towards the end became very sporadic, partly because he was working on Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush, and it was a great shame when he left in 1994. Gaby left a couple of years later, and there were various other hosts in this era including Danny Baker, Mark Little, Paul Ross, Keith Chegwin, Richard Orford and Zoe Ball. By 1996 the format was beginning to get a little tired so it was time for a change.
So a new look was introduced, with new presenters, a redecorated house and new features. The main host of this era was Rick Adams, but unfortunately he wasn’t very popular with viewers although I liked him and he didn’t last long. Other presenters around this time included Lily Savage, Sharron Davies and Vanessa Feltz. Denise Van Outen did do better though and when she was teamed up with Johnny Vaughan who joined in 1997 they created the best double act since the Chris and Gaby days, clearly enjoying the features that they hosted, with one memorable moment being Johnny’s amusing thoughts on the day’s news.
Also during the holidays there was The Bigger Breakfast, an extended version of the show featuring more cartoons. After Denise left, she was replaced by the likes of Kelly Brook and Liza Tarbuck, and in 2000 she was persuaded to return, and Johnny and Denise finally left in 2001, going on to host a few other shows. Clearly someone thought that it was time for another year zero relaunch.
So just like 1996 there was another redecoration of the house and another bunch of new presenters turned up including Paul Tonkinson, Amanda Byram. and Donna Air. Again it wasn’t a big success, and again it went back to the early format of the show, with the likes of Snap, Cackle and Pop returning, and one more wave of new presenters coming along including Richard Bacon. However, I had stopped watching by this point, and it seems that a lot of other people did too, and in 2002 after almost a decade the show finally ended.
The Big Breakfast in its earliest days was a very good show and I felt that it was entirely what Channel 4 should be doing, but crazes come and go and the show had clearly run out of steam by the end. However, it certainly lasted longer than its replacement and all they show in the breakfast slot nowadays is endless repeats of sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.