Breakfast show launch rises to the occasion

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The Independent Online

Channel 4's successor to The Big Breakfast had its first airing yesterday and immediately set a precedent in live broadcasting when the show's main host said he had to "go for a pee". He apologised and dashed out of the studio, returning a few minutes later.

If Mark Durden-Smith, the son of the television veteran Judith Chalmers, had to run to the lavatory because he was nervous, then his behaviour was understandable.

Channel 4 is staking much on the new breakfast show, called RI:SE. The company needs to bring viewers into its daytime schedules and restore its reputation for cutting-edge breakfast viewing, which The Big Breakfast lost in its last years.

The show, which uses a group of young presenters, abandons the anarchic quality of the early Big Breakfast shows which made stars of Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin, opting for slicker delivery and light-hearted presentation of home and foreign news and showbusiness stories. Unusually, it has no opening or closing credits and producers expect viewers to dip in and out as they prepare to leave home rather than tuning in at length.

Throughout the programme the main stories were scrolled across the bottom of the screen. The presenters carried hi-tech aids that allowed viewers to e-mail them live on the show. They also encouraged viewers to send them text messages.

RI:SE's executive producer, Sebastian Scott, described the show as being for people "who want to know about bin Laden, Beckham and Britney Spears".

He said RI:SE had been given a low-key start because programme makers wanted it to build support on merit rather than on the back of a glittering advertising campaign. But he concluded: "It will come together and get people talking and once we start it up it will be brilliant."

The presenters included Durden-Smith, Sky's Kirsty Gallacher, the MTV host Edith Bowman and the former Newsround frontman Chris Rogers.

RI:SE's launch came a month after Channel 4 ended the once hugely successful Big Breakfast in the face of plummeting viewing figures. At its peak it attracted 2 million viewers, 27 per cent of the breakfast-time audience, but by March just 300,000 were tuning in.

Some Big Breakfast elements have been retained. RI:SE's use of a plug for a film or pop video as it goes into an advertising break is a device used by its predecessor.