‘First days at work: fearful or fun?’ That’s one of the topics under discussion as Jeremy Vine launches his new self-titled Channel 5 daytime series – and it’s clear from the host’s confident and convincing start that Vine is very much in the ‘fun’ camp.
In a seamless transition from Matthew Wright’s 18-year stretch on predecessor The Wright Stuff (which has been fronted by guest hosts since Wright said his final farewell two months ago), a relaxed Vine opens the show leaning on his desk rather than behind it, exchanges a nice bit of banter with co-host Storm Huntley – noting that the studio has had a “a lick of paint” but that he’s “the only thing that’s really new” – before asking viewers “How do I get into the chair on time, that’s my question?”
That might be the question Vine’s Radio 2 listeners are asking themselves too – his new Channel 5 show runs until 11:15am, at which point he presumably has to bolt for the door and cycle (his preferred method of transport) over to the BBC’s Wogan House, W1, in order to be in his seat for a 12 noon kick-off. Vine has assured them he will make it. When he’ll prep for the show is another matter, but if necessary he’s got the skills to wing it.
Anyway, perhaps he won’t have to for long – before they get started on the topics of the day, Vine references the breaking news of Chris Evans’s departure from the Radio 2 breakfast show. “Ooh, another job Jeremy,” teases guest Alastair Campbell. “That’s the biggest show in radio isn’t it,” muses Vine. “Who could possibly take over that?” asks fellow panelist Anne Diamond.
It’s not all fun and games, though – aside from a debate on Brexit, Vine has the first interview with Roxanne Pallett since her departure from the Celebrity Big Brother house in the wake of the so-called ‘punchgate’, which saw her accuse fellow soap star Ryan Thomas of deliberately hurting her in what looked to viewers like nothing more than a playful tussle.
Pallett exonerates Thomas and apologises for an over-sensitive reaction, saying “I got it wrong, I really got it wrong” – quite a coup for the show and a test, passed with flying colours, of Vine’s skills at switching tone quickly (a must for the Wright Stuff replacement), from domestic abuse to, next up, our waning love affair with the Great British Cuppa.
Vine is a less combative and harder to ruffle presenter than former Sun journalist Wright and the episode’s generally feel-good factor is cleverly bolstered by the inclusion of friends of Vine and the show. Alongside Campbell and former guest host Anne Diamond is Vine’s “Strictly nemesis” Jamelia, while ‘surprise’ phone-in callers include Diamond’s former breakfast TV partner Nick Owen and Vine’s Eggheads regular, quiz queen Judith Keppel.
The panelists are given a lot of time to talk, which perhaps leaves less chance for ordinary viewers to have their say. Then again, it also means less chance for Wright’s former nemesis – an unnamed caller who repeatedly phoned in to hurl abuse at a woman named Sharon Goodman – to get in on the act (Vine’s vibe initially seems above that sort of thing – whether he’ll become a victim in future episodes remains to be seen).
Drawing the show to a close, Vine heads into the audience to share one of those Great British Cuppas and encourage everyone to hold up their brand new Jeremy Vine mugs, emblazoned with his name.
The message is clear. Matthew Wright? What Matthew Wright? The daytime King is dead! Long live King Jeremy!
Jeremy Vine continues weekdays from 9:15am on Channel 5