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.

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] Zoë 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
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments