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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing