Viewers turned off by big money Breakfast TV stars says Nick Owen

Former TV-am presenter says viewers struggle to relate to someone earning £1m a year


Big money breakfast TV signings alienate viewers, according to former stalwart of the early morning couch Nick Owen.


Owen, the one time TV-am host alongside Anne Diamond and now presents the BBC’s regional bulletin Midlands Today, tells this week’s Radio Times magazine that the size of the fees commanded by some presenters makes them a turn off for viewers.

“I joined TV-am [GMTV’s predecessor] after a raft of big names had failed – David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford, Angela Rippon… they’d not caught on with the viewers at all.

“They’d been turned down by Terry Wogan and Michael Aspel, so I was filling in until they could find someone, basically. But because no one was watching, we could try things out. They hired Anne Diamond at my suggestion and we had a boy-and-girl-next-door thing. I think all these announcements about high salaries alienate viewers. Here’s someone on a million pounds – you will enjoy them! Who can relate to a presenter like that?”

Owen does not specify which highly paid stars of the modern era he is referring to. However, Susanna Reid recently revealed that she was defecting from BBC Breakfast to front ITV’s new breakfast show Good Morning Britain, in a reported £1 million deal – an amount that ITV have contested. 

Good Morning Britain replaces Daybreak, whose launch presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley – also believed to have been well remunerated according to reports – left just over a year after the programme first went on air.

Former GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips, who left ITV’s GMTV in 2008 after 12 years, said that presenters must reflect their audience – a quality which she claims was key to the success of herself and co-presenter Eamonn Holmes.

“Eamonn Holmes and I – you can’t manufacture that sort of chemistry,” she told Radio Times. “We’d both come from the same backgrounds as the viewers – our parents had worked hard, we had worked hard up through the ranks to get there. We weren’t out at premieres living the glamorous life. People don’t want to see that in the morning – they can’t relate.”

An ITV source said “ITV are thrilled to have Susanna as part of the new Good Morning Britain team but the idea that she is being paid a salary in the region of one million is completely untrue. It is far off this.”  

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