Why I'm A Celebrity 2013 will force me to watch Channel 5
Richard Madeley covering for Matthew Wright will make unmissable television - and hopefully pave the way back to the small screen for the great presenter, says Tim Glanfield
It’s one of the great mysteries of British television: why doesn’t Richard Madeley have his own primetime chat show?
When the aforementioned Madeley (and his good lady wife, Judy Finnegan) finally left our screens in 2009 (via UKTV's Watch – "nobody did," quipped Madeley), a little piece of wonder disappeared from our television sets, seemingly forever.
Many have tried to imitate the 57-year-old’s no-nonsense approach to broadcasting, but no matter how hard Jeremy Kyle, Matthew Wright or Alan Partridge seem to try, it seems there’s no bigger Dick than Madeley.
News that the presenter will be filling in for the antagonistic Wright on his Channel 5 magazine programme, while Wright swaps sides for ITV's I'm a Celebrity, fills my heart with joy – for once again, we will have the chance to see this extraordinary broadcasting talent in his natural habitat… live television.
Frankly, he is wasted on Radio 2 – and although he’s now written a novel (which I admit I’ve yet found the time to read), one can only speculate that he is far more likely to be picking up big TV ratings than the Booker Prize in the coming years.
Such is the brilliance of the say-what-you-see Richard that a whole cottage industry of collecting (and making up quotes) has developed around the web.
“Hello baldy!” (Greeting a young leukaemia sufferer)
“Five stone? Wow, that's concentration camp thin that is.” (To anorexic teenager)
“You looked as if your head was going to come off!'” (To guest with a stutter)
The list continues… some accurate, some apocryphal.
Forget that bit where he dresses up as Ali G on This Morning – that’s pre-planned rubbish you could get from any “zany” presenter – no, Richard is brilliant because he’s a live wire, born to bring down political correctness by ignoring it and then disengaging the “think before you speak” filter in his brain.
We live in an increasingly grey world of pre-recorded, vetted and compliance-suffocated television. We need people like Richard to help remind us just what we’re missing.
I cannot wait to see how he’ll front the Wright Stuff, and how he’ll deal with the issues of the day (and the general public) over the next month. But one thing that is certain – you’ll want to book the next 30 days off work, or at least set your Sky+.
Here’s hoping Richard’s foray back into daily TV broadcasting is the beginning of something very special for both his TV career, and television in general. We need more risk takers on TV again.
Channel 5, this is your chance to shine…