Edinburgh Television Festival: Glib becomes ITV formula for success: Rhys Williams on the Hollywood docu-glitz phenomenon and the failing fortunes of the Big Breakfast
Tuesday 30 August 1994
ITV's response to those bemoaning the supposed decline in serious factual output on the network will have the regulators reaching for the thesaurus once again next year - brace yourselves for Hollywood Kids and Hollywood Men.
HAS THE Big Breakfast's ratings bubble finally burst? Yes, says Christopher Stoddart, managing director of GMTV (not entirely a disinterested party in all of this), over a glass of champagne in the Cafe Royale.
Audience research suggests that the breakfast station, which was criticised by the ITC in the spring, has boosted its average ratings to 1.3 million (up 300,000 on last year), while Channel 4's Big Breakfast has fallen by 200,000 to 600,000 over the same period. There's hope still for Channel 4 - Chris Evans is due to leave in the next fortnight.
DAVID MELLOR was smiling broadly yesterday. His suggested changes to the Broadcasting Act were going down well and, there was that small matter of a pay rise for MPs, of whom he is one. 'I gather there's a bit of an outcry over a 4.7 per cent increase for what is largely unskilled labour.'
Still, he's proved pretty astute at capturing the mood of the festival and the tenor of many of the addresses. 'I am,' he said, 'the only person speaking at this festival who is not seeking a job in a Blair government.'
AS CONCERNS among the worthy grow over the quality of factual programming, attention is increasingly switching to crime re- enactment programmes.
Cross words poured from the normally honey-lipped Nick Ross, presenter of Crimewatch, in one session at the weekend. The substantial target was Michael Winner and his True Crimes show, decommissioned by ITV. Ross called it a 'TV whore' which did little to help the victims of crime. Winner, who has done his bit for Victim Support, dismissed this as the 'unedifying spectacle' of a man frightened about ratings. Ross has subsequently retracted the statement, saying it was made in haste and without realising it would be published - though, with a hundred or so gossipy media types present, quite how Ross thought it would not get beyond the session room is about as mysterious as why anyone should choose to watch True Crimes in the first place.
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