If The Word dies, can Big Breakfast survive?

Rhys Williams looks at prospects for the runaway breakfast-TV success now that its stablemate seems doomed

The higher they climb, the further they fall. And when your name is Planet, the tumble can assume stratospheric proportions. With the future of The Word looking as secure as a Nick Leeson derivative and rumours of a springclean to revitalise The Big Breakfast, the question arises: is one of the brightest stars in independent television, Planet 24 - responsible for both shows - losing its twinkle?

Channel 4 executives will shortly sit down and consider whether to recommission The Word after the end of its present run. They must decide whether the five-year-old programme has the vitality to sustain another run. According to Stephen Garrett, who commissioned The Word and is joint managing director of Kudos Productions, the show is at the end of its natural life cycle.

Jane Hewland, joint creator of the pioneering youth show Network 7, with Janet Street-Porter, says now The Word operates in an infinitely more competitive environment, with BBC2's Fantasy Football League providing unmissable viewing for the lagered-up crowd. And the left-field, late- night Eurotrash, presented by Jean Paul Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes, comfortably outwits and outshocks its stable-mate.

So with a big chunk of Planet 24's high-profile output looking as though it may shortly be spending more time in the programme vaults, the tension turns to The Big Breakfast.

Targeted to double the 250,000 audience ratings of its predecessor, Channel Four Daily, The Big Breakfast, which burst upon us in September 1992, boosted the early morning audience sixfold. Although GMTV reaches more viewers across the morning, The Big Breakfast regularly eclipses its commercial rival at the 8am peak.

Dismissed as "infantile hotch-potch" for the "terminally moronic", The Big Breakfast has developed into one of the programming sensations of the decade. The manic pace and camera-work is Oliver Stone without the blood, while full crew participation and items such as "Get Your Knobbly Nuts Out" suggests its antecedents are rooted in Eighties youth programming.

This is why Channel 4 went for it. But according to William G Stewart, the producer of The Price Is Right, The Big Breakfast is becoming a victim of its own frenetic innovation. "The more anarchic and chaotic a programme, the less chance it has of running for years. It's not about how good they are, it's about how they are able to stay the course."

A subscriber to the philosophy that a programme should out-stay its welcome to ensure that every last drop of entertainment is milked from it, Stewart believes time should be called on The Big Breakfast and The Word.

This may explain why Planet 24 is applying a new lick of paint to The Big Breakfast from next month. Ruling out any suggestion of a relaunch, Dawn Airey, controller of arts and entertainment at Channel 4, says viewers may start noticing a few changes in the spring. She says the channel is looking to lengthen the show and add several items.

It is also understood that there will be a change in the presentation line-up of Gaby Roslin, Paul Ross and Mark Little."The show is very robust. We're just giving it some new toys to play with," Ms Airey explains.

So there is an unmistakeable hum in the ether on Planet 24.The recently established Planet 24 Radio looks to be repeating the success of its television parent with three shows on the BBC. Straight Up on 5-Live follows the comics Andy Parsons and Henry Naylor as they travel the length of Britain in a straight line through veterinary surgeries, living rooms and peat bogs. A second series of Supertunes on Radio 3 hosted by Lord Onslow continues to explore the darker reaches of house, rap and jungle.

TV commissions include Delicious, a children's show for Carlton, a prime- time entertainment show for BBC1 (believed to involve Steve Wright) and episodes in BBC2's art series, American Visions.

The company has also just teamed up with Hat Trick, producer of Have I Got News For You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The joint venture was established to pursue programme opportunities on cable and satellite. But as the pitch for a new Channel 4 daytime strand (for which it has already been shortlisted) demonstrates, Planet Hat Trick is also poised to feature on mainstream channels. "We're there to collaborate on cable and satellite primarily," Denise O'Donoghue, managing director of Hat Trick, explains. "But if there are terrestrial opportunities, we would be stupid not to chase them."

Although it can be no guarantee of longevity, the fact that Planet 24 has begun recruiting for a graduate trainee scheme - something that even the BBC has fought shy of recently - suggests that the company plans to stick around.

Half of us seldom watch breakfast television, so the battle for those who do is fierce. GMTV has lifted its ratings a little since its mid-1993 nadir, but it is still below TV-am's vintage late-Eighties levels. C4's The Big Breakfast plundered many younger viewers. However, since Chris Evans left last September the show is down by 500,000 viewers a week. GMTV's weekday audience is almost 4 million a week above C4's but older, and less attractive to toy and household advertisers. The BBC's sober news programme is performing well.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003