They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And for ITV, getting the right recipe for success during the breakfast slot has been a problem for the past five years.
Now they have turned to Piers Morgan to try to attract some new viewers. Ever since GMTV was ditched, they have been searching for the right ingredients to challenge BBC Breakfast.
The BBC currently pulls in about 1.5 million viewers on average each morning and Good Morning Britain is languishing at about 600,000. To put that in context, even after they decided it was being axed, GMTV still regularly got around a million viewers, and years ago, ITV had the most popular breakfast show with five million tuning in back in 2006.
It is now five years since ITV launched Daybreak with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley at great expense with millions of pounds spent on contracts and a new studio. That didn’t work, so they tried Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones, which didn’t improve things either.
Daybreak was eventually ditched and there was the dawn of another new era with Good Morning Britain, featuring FOUR presenters – Susanna Reid poached from BBC, Sky’s Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher, and Ben Shepherd, who was loved by some of the GMTV viewers.
Now ITV bosses appear to have sidelined some of this line-up too so from next month we are told Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan will front the show most of the time.
This is the fourth presenting reshuffle in five years – you don’t need to be wide awake to see they are still searching for the right mix. But changing the line up now, as they again search for more viewers, seems a good move by Daytime boss Helen Warner.
In January BBC Breakfast anchor Bill Turnbull is leaving the show after 15 years. He is much-loved, and if there is a time to snatch some viewers it may be now.
Piers hosted a couple of weeks of GMB as holiday cover earlier this year, and feedback from viewers was good, with some shows seeing a spike in audience numbers.
ITV also say their numbers are up seven percent year-on-year and they think Piers will help grow their audience further.
Viewers also don’t mind a bit of tension or something lively to be woken up to. Eamonn Holmes and Anthea Turner¹s on-air ‘chemistry’ never did GMTV any harm and helped it get more headlines.
So when Piers talks of ‘annoying Susanna’ in the coming weeks that is not necessarily a bad thing.
GMB have a couple of months to bed in and then in January can really try to push on. If they don’t, you can be pretty sure there will be another round of changes in 2016, as ITV seem determined to get their breakfast offering just right.
Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror