Media: They're serving the same thing for breakfast: That was TV-am; this is Good Morning. Owen Slot wonders if viewers will notice the difference

THE 14-month countdown has ticked away, and there are just nine days left. Nine days, that is, until TV-am is switched off and Good Morning Television finally says 'Good Morning' - until ITV's breakfast television audience will have seen the last of one presentation team and been introduced to another.

Except that Lorraine Kelly, who presented TV-am, will be presenting GMTV; that Michael Hastings, education correspondent of TV-am, will be Michael Hastings, political correspondent of GMTV; and that Hilary Jones, who talked health matters on TV-am, will be talking health on GMTV.

In fact, the set, style, sofas and smiles all look remarkably similar, too. So TV-am devotees need not worry about the change; instead they need merely brace themselves for their new cornflakes companion, Fiona Armstrong - oh, and the dark-haired, middle-aged, mustachioed presenter called Michael Morris is replaced by another of the same species called Michael Wilson.

GMTV has never pretended it would be anything but a close copy of TV-am. 'TV-am with a slice of lemon,' is how Lis Howell, head of programming at GMTV, describes it. Market research shows that TV-am got it right and GMTV wants to follow suit.

GMTV might not be embarking on an incredible journey into the unknown, but the staff are nevertheless excited about the launch on 1 January and the future that follows. On their three-and-a-bit floors of the London Television Centre on the South Bank there is a definite buzz; the Christmas break is an irritation.

Of the 185 employees who have been assembled during the past six months, only one has quit before the launch. They have been producing daily pilots since 2 November. 'There's a great feeling of optimism all round,' says Michael Wilson.

A few miles north of all this, at the TV-am building on Camden Lock, the contrast isn't hard to spot. The natural buzz of a news team departed when the team itself left in March and, as the staff has shrunk from 400 to 145 over the past 14 months, it is hardly surprising that the building has come to feel like a school shut for the holidays.

On the first floor, where TV-am's ethos has been created for the past 10 years, a small workforce huddles round a group of desks at one end of a huge open-plan room. And while Michael Wilson can talk about his 'great feeling of optimism', Mike Morris, the man whose air-time he will be occupying, says that 'the last year has quite definitely been the worst of my life'.

Keeping the programme going until next Thursday is no easy task. Only last week Kathy Tayler and Claire Rayner were in tears as they presented their last programmes. So where can the drive and inspiration come from when you're simply working out your notice?

'We're just ploughing on,' says Bill Ludford, head of programming. 'It'll be a relief when it's all over,' says Morris. 'Television runs on adrenalin, but we're working on an empty tank. Our energy levels have dipped, but for three hours and 25 minutes a day we try to retain some kind of energy and enthusiasm.'

Despite the effort, viewers have noticed the difference. TV- am's once regular audience of 2.5 million has dipped to 1.9 million, a slump for which Channel 4's The Big Breakfast is only partially responsible. But even 1.9 million, says Morris, is something to be proud of. 'We are still, in our dying days, the most popular breakfast programme.'

With no future to work for, TV-am's recent output has been a cost-cutting, profiteering affair. On screen, there are now three daily phone-in competitions which, with their 0898 numbers being called some 40,000 times a throw, pay for themselves.

Off screen, the programme works from a skeleton staff, its 24-hour cover is history and the editing suites of the empty offices in the building have been occupied by two radio stations. The early morning meeting place, which used to be the canteen, is now around a coffee machine: the canteen is closed. Most poignantly, if you look hard, you can still spot some of the 'Winning team for 1993' stickers that were spread around the building in the weeks leading up to the franchise announcement, in October 1991.

'There's a sort of buoyed-up feeling; we're drawing strength from adversity,' says Morris, who is one of a number without a job lined up. 'There's a certain amount of anger and resentment, but that's simmered now really.' What has left a bitter feeling for many, though, is that the company which has won the franchise is simply going to copy TV-am.

Back at GMTV, the lookalike is being fine-tuned. Gyles Brandreth, a former TV-am presenter, was a guest on a pilot last week and said: 'I think it could do rather well . . . It was just like the old days.'

To improve on TV-am's average of keeping viewers' attention for 20 minutes, market research has pointed to a three-pronged attack. Two are quality prongs - better children's programmes and a fresher feel to the whole show - and the third, most obvious addition is the inclusion of local news bulletins.

Quality initiatives aside, viewers will have to be brought round to GMTV faces. Pilot shows have demonstrated that viewers are doubtful about anything filling TV-am's slot successfully. Lis Howell is the first to acknowledge the task ahead: 'You've got to keep faith with the public who watch TV-am. Their attitude is 'Why are you taking my friends away from me?' '

(Photographs omitted)

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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 Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

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?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker