Happy 30th birthday breakfast TV!

BBC was first out of the blocks in the race to wake us up with Lycra-loving fitness gurus, chirpy astrologers and unruly animals

The sofas were ugly, the pullovers little better and even the people who worked for the fledgling BBC Breakfast Time didn't expect it to survive. But on Thursday it turns 30, having changed for ever the way the nation starts the day, Others followed, arguably with greater success, but the BBC set the template for many of the now-traditional slots that jolt us awake, from eccentric astrologers and Lycra-loving fitness freaks to TV chefs and unruly animals.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Beeb's offering started life as the underdog: its great rival TV-am, which launched nearly a month later had more money; a swanky studio in Camden, and bigger names – Anne Diamond, Nick Owen and later Roland Rat, who helped push up ratings.

The BBC had Frank Bough, not in the first flush even then, a bouncy Nick Ross – both in unforgivable knitwear – and Selina Scott, who appeared to be on day release from an Amish aid mission. And the studio reflected the general view that the show wasn't going to be around for long.

Ross last week recalled his envy of colleagues at TV-am: "They had a flashy new office in Camden, we were all stuck in a corner of Lime Grove."

Despite its apparent shabbiness, the show was a massively expensive gamble. It launched at a cost of £6m a year, making it the corporation's biggest investment since BBC2 went live in 1964.

And lack of expectation for its hopes against its richer rival on commercial television, Ross agrees, meant it slipped through corporate controls, allowing it to grow quietly and at its own pace.

"There was a relationship with our audience. We were not the high and mighty," he says. "And the editor at the time, Ron Neil, deserves much credit for making it work."

Ross admits to being a bit po-faced over the format, going as it did from hard news stories to cookery demonstrations. "I nearly threw my toys out of the pram when I heard we were doing astrology," he says. "It was only in rehearsals when it came together that I saw his [Neil's] genius."

The first show was presented by Bough and former ITN news reader Scott, with radio news journalist Ross, astrologer Russell Grant and fitness expert Diana Moran, dubbed "The Green Goddess".

Moran, who pioneered leotard-wearing on morning TV, remembers her first section being filmed at Waterloo station. "I was not prepared for how mad it would get," she says. "I was working at Butlins in Minehead before that."

The show today is watched by some 1.5million viewers daily and has a staff of about 45. The BBC will mark its 30th anniversary with archive footage, interviews with some of the original cast and perhaps live footage from the pub where a first-day segment was filmed, which, as testament to changing times, is now a vegetarian restaurant.

Alison Ford, who has edited the current show for more than five years, said Friday's programme will nod to the anniversary but not repeat the 25th celebration, when the original presenters appeared in their jumpers. "The breakfast audience has not changed too much," she says. "People still go to work and they are in the kitchen, but we know they are not watching for the whole show. It is not like Newsnight where you have a targeted audience.

"I don't think today's show is massively different from when it was launched," she added. "We still have people on the sofa, the news and fun stuff."

The weather girls and boys

Ulrika Jonsson appeared on TV-am before going on to present and appear in many other shows, including Gladiator, Vic and Bob's Shooting Stars and 2009's Celebrity Big Brother, which she won.

Wincey Willis was a regular on TV-am and later appeared on Treasure Hunt. She is now a writer, public speaker and conservationist, and a presenter with BBC Hereford and Worcester.

Trish Williamson was a regular on TV-am and later worked as a producer, presenter and reporter. The mother of two died in a car crash in Suffolk in 2007.

Fred Talbot (yes, not strictly breakfast), presented the weather from a floating map in Liverpool's Albert Dock on This Morning. His home was raided last month by police investigating historic sex-abuse claims. He currently works for ITV's North West news programme.

Cooks and stargazers

Russell Grant presented a daily astrology guide on BBC Breakfast until 1986 before defecting to the opposition, TV-am. He later appeared as presenter on a number of shows and TV spin-offs.

Jamaica-born chef Rustie Lee was a staple on TV-am in the 1980s. She later worked on the show Game for a Laugh and had a brief singing and acting career. She also appeared on a spooky reality TV show for Living called I'm Famous and Frightened!

Popular puppets

Roland Rat joined TV-am and was generally seen as the "only rat to join a sinking ship", apparently taking the then-ailing show's audience from 100,000 to 1.8 million. Roland later had three hit singles, including "Rat Rapping", and released an album, The Cassette of the Album.

Zig and Zag, an Irish puppet duo performed by Mick O'Hara and Ciaran Morrison, were popular on Channel 4's Big Breakfast and later scored a UK top-five single with "Them Girls, Them Girls".

Morning stretches

Diana Moran, aka the Green Goddess, got the BBC gig after appearing at Butlins holiday camps, following the work-out craze started by Hollywood star Jane Fonda. Moran was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, at 48, and has become a breast cancer advocate for the Breast Cancer Campaign and other charities.

Lizzie Webb, often known as "Mad Lizzie", presented daily exercise routines on TV-am as a response to the Green Goddess.

Mr Motivator, the Jamaica-born British exercise instructor, real name Derrick Errol Evans, graced our sets in the 1990s on GMTV dressed in colourful Spandex, complete with bum-bag. All, naturally, went on to produce fitness videos.

Past & presenters

Frank Bough was a Grandstand regular but cemented his status on Breakfast Time. He left for Holiday in 1987 but was sacked after a sex and drugs scandal. His BT colleague, Selina Scott, presented and produced TV shows until 2003 when, feeling that her age was restricting her career, she withdrew, wrote a book, bred goats and brought out a sock range. In 2008, she won an out-of-court settlement against Channel 5 after she was dropped as maternity cover for Natasha Kaplinsky because of her age. In 2011, Scott presented Treasure Houses of Britain for Sky Arts.

Over on TV-am Anne Diamond set up a campaign in 1991 for research into cot death after the death of her third son, Sebastian. She now presents a phone-in show on BBC Radio Berkshire. She has also given evidence to the Leveson inquiry. Her co-presenter, Nick Owen, went on to other news shows, including Midlands Today. He is chairman of Luton Town FC.

Hits and misses

In 1992, Channel 4 launched The Big Breakfast with Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin to huge success. Later Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen's screen magnetism on Big Breakfast won a legion of fans. Its cast list included a number of famous faces, including Paula Yates, Zoe Ball and Richard Bacon. To date, ITV's Daybreak has not been so successful, despite a number of reinventions after starting as a segment on TV-am in 1983, The name was revived in 2010 when ITV replaced GMTV but has struggled. In 2011 presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley were sacked after ratings plummeted.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home