Heart beat

Thousands of women will be waking up with Jamie Theakston on his new radio show. Ian Burrell reports

JAMIE Theakston confides that in an hour's time he is going on a lunch date with a woman with whom he hopes to build a lasting and meaningful relationship. A table has been booked at Passione, a classy Italian joint on Charlotte Street in London's media-friendly Fitzrovia.

The lady in question is not Theakston's supermodel girlfriend Erin O'Connor but the radio presenter Harriet Scott, who he admires but has never met before. Which seems amazing, given that he was announced last week as her new on-air partner in presenting the breakfast show on Heart 106.2.

Even more surprising, when you consider that Theakston has already produced two pilot versions of the revised breakfast show, which will begin after Easter. He has been in talks with Chrysalis executives since last summer, unbeknown to Scott.

Which makes this lunch engagement an important one. In his first interview since news of his appointment broke, Theakston says: "I will be trying to spend as much time [with Scott] as possible, to get to understand each other's senses of humour. These relationships take time. With [previous colleague] Zoe Ball it got to the stage when I would know what she was about to say before she opened her mouth."

Scott has for several years been partnered with Jono Coleman. The pair won last year's Sony Breakfast Show of the Year Award. Steve Parkinson, Heart's managing director, who sits in on the interview, explains why she wasn't told about Theakston. "It was very difficult to tell Harriet when she had a current partner in Jono," he says.

As Theakston himself admits of his solo pilot shows: "Heart needed to know I could do what I said I could."

Clearly the radio station is utterly convinced it has made the appointment that will take it back to the position of top radio station in London (which it held very briefly a year ago, only for Capital 95.8 to re-establish dominance).

The announcement comes on the back of six months of disappointing ratings for Heart, which has also been challenged by Magic radio and its diet of easy listening.

A period of change in the London breakfast market - stemming from the departure from Capital of Chris Tarrant - has seen Magic and Capital encroaching into the early thirtysomething territory which Heart had been trying to make its own.

Now it will refocus by replacing the portly Australian Coleman, 46, with tall and handsome Theakston, 34, who had offers from several radio stations but was impressed by Heart's energy and positive responses to his ambitious proposals. "I thought there was a product that had performed particularly well but could do better," he says. "I felt there was a lot I could bring to it to make it a better product."

Theakston is a confirmed favourite with Heart's large female audience, who grew up admiring his presentational skills on the fast-paced BBC TV show Live & Kicking and have avidly followed in entertainment press the news of his subsequent adventures, squiring the likes of Joely Richardson and Natalie Appleton.

Theakston offers a more identifiable brand than Magic's Graham "Never Seen" Dene, and a less blokey alternative to Capital's Johnny Vaughan.

But mention the competition and he starts back-pedalling. "I'm not approaching it in that way really. Whilst I have absolutely respect for others doing shows at the same time, I'm not going to be sucked into attacking them in the way that we position the show," he says. "I want to make sure the show is bolder, better and brighter than it has been before."

He will not be specific as to how this soap-powder slogan translates into a new, improved radio show - but expect more phone-ins, more interaction with the public.

Heart is also promising him it will invest more heavily in gathering juicy radio material by hiring top writers and bona fide showbiz reporters.

As one of Britain's most high-profile personalities across all sections of the media, Theakston will also expect to bring in his own showbiz stories. He will next month present another series of The Games for Channel 4, and is preparing to fly to Los Angeles to cover the Oscars for Sky (an assignment that will include a report direct from a party hosted by Sir Elton John). "If I was to do the Oscars (next year) whilst I'm doing the breakfast show I would be doing a show from LA," he says.

First he has to introduce himself to his new working partner. "I've not met her yet but, yes absolutely, I was a Heart listener. So I feel like I know her already," he says.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?