Geldofs try to spice up breakfast TV

IF YOU have been having sleepless nights wondering what is the Dalai Lama's attitude on masturbation, help, as it were, is at hand. On Tuesday week, Channel 4's new early-morning television service, called The Big Breakfast Show, starts transmission. Part of it will be a pre-recorded interview by Bob Geldof. One of his first interviewees is the spiritual leader of Tibet's Bhuddists, shortly to be followed by Nelson Mandela.

'The Dalai Lama may be a living god,' the founder of Band Aid explained. 'But I can exclusively reveal that God, too, has his moral ambiguities. One of the first questions I asked him was what he thought about wanking.'

'There's nothing standard about our show,' he added. 'There's no jumpers or sofas. The brief is to give Channel 4 an identity and bring people in to watch it. And I honestly think we'll manage it.'

Geldof and his team need to. On their shoulders ride much of the future success of Channel 4. The present incumbent of the station's breakfast-time output, the Channel 4 Daily, attracts as few as 150,000 viewers. The show, with its business news segments from Tokyo and Washington, is, according to someone who worked on it, 'a masterpiece of unwatchable television'.

In January the complicated arrangement by which Channel 4 is subsidised will end and it will become self-financing. Last year, TV-am, which sold Channel 4's breakfast-slot advertising on its behalf, accrued pounds 9.3million. TV-am's subscription to Channel 4 was pounds 14.4m. Michael Grade, the station Chief Executive desperately needs to plug that gap. What he needs is viewers, because with viewers comes advertising revenue.

And so he has turned to Geldof. Or rather he has turned to Geldof's company, Planet 24 Productions (when his first interview is broadcast Bob himself will be in Europe, embarking on a 60-night concert tour 'which, contrary to popular belief, is what I do all the time'). Geldof's partner in the enterprise is Charlie Parsons, the producer behind such Channel 4 shows as Network 7, Club X and The Word.

'All eyes will be on us when the show starts,' said Parsons. 'The pressure will be much greater than for an ordinary programme because there will be no chance to fail. Though it could be seen that we are on to a winner because it would be very hard to decrease the viewing figures.'

Parsons, Geldof and their team won the pounds 10m contract against fierce competition from established media houses.

'It came up at a board meeting that the breakfast thing was on offer,' recalled Geldof. 'Someone said let's take a flyer and apply. I said we don't stand a prayer, but then we said, bollocks, let's stick in a proposal.'

The format of the show has not altered much in the progression from proposal through pilot to finished product. While The Channel 4 Daily was informative, The Big Breakfast will be almost anything but.

'The audience that the Daily tried to attract with an impressive news service was already well served by the radio and by the BBC's Breakfast Time. That was their mistake,' said Parsons. 'Apart from a quick update every 20 minutes, we will concentrate on entertaining.'

Instead of the American sofa-and-chat format favoured by TV-am and, all leaks indicate, its successor GMTV, Parsons has borrowed an idea from radio. Anchored by Chris Evans, the former GLR disc-jockey, the show will have a 'zoo-radio' format, in which everyone, from cameraman to passing cleaners will be allowed to have a say.

After some highly publicised attempts to buy premises in Highgate the company settled on three Victorian lockkeepers' cottages in the East End. Here Chris Evans will hold court, making his guests do forfeits if they plug their books.

Instead of cueing records, as he might on the radio, Evans will link Geldof's interviews with old children's shows like The Banana Splits and items such as The People Report, in which viewers will air their gripes on anything from British Telecom to dog mess in the park.

Each segment will come from a different room in the house. Cue Paula, in which Paula Yates, Geldof's wife, will conduct interviews, will come, inevitably, from the bedroom. Arnie Schwarzenegger and Barbara Cartland are scheduled to pass through her boudoir in the first few weeks.

However, one thing that Mentorn, the company which produced segments for The Channel 4 Daily, learnt, is that the viewer's tolerance over their cornflakes is uniquely low.

'You can't show certain film-clips you could in the evening, you can't show violence,' said a Mentorn insider. 'And robust language is a complete no-no.'

It is perhaps as well that Geldof's contribution will be edited. Chris Evans, though, frequently went close to the knuckle on his popular GLR shows, and Parsons's track-record suggests a working method prepared to shock first and suffer the consequences afterwards.

But, more worryingly for Parsons and Geldof, there is a school of thought which suggests that even if they screened naked mud-wrestling every morning, nobody would watch.

'Breakfast time is just not a viewing time for Channel 4 people,' said a shell-shocked former employee. 'And even if they are appealing to a down-market, non-Channel 4 audience, getting them to turn the dial is one hell of a quantum leap.'

Geldof remains sanguine about the prospects. 'Who knows if anyone will watch, maybe I'm crap, I don't know,' he said. 'All I can say is it will be worth a look.'

(Photographs omitted)

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice