The 40th anniversary of BBC breakfast TV was celebrated beautifully. From a design fan’s point of view, there was much to enjoy.
Bringing back the old analogue clock for the morning was a lovely touch. The modern take on the original Breakfast Time astons was beautifully stylish.
But there is also a story of how the BBC finally came to find the right format for breakfast TV after a long journey.
Breakfast Time was an immediate success in its early days.
But once TV-am plunged downmarket and saved itself from disaster, Breakfast Time started to seem unloved from above.
It could not compete with its downmarket rival – nor was it a hard news programme which played to the BBC’s strengths.
Yet it was valued, even loved, by its audience. Warm and friendly, the regular presenters were like extended family to loyal viewers.
When Breakfast Time was relaunched as a news-driven programme in November 1986, the move was controversial.
It made strategic sense. A clear choice for morning viewers which also gave the programme a clearer purpose while the new daytime schedule catered for those who wanted the soft features, cookery, fashion and chat.
But the audience clearly took a while to get used to a radically different programme. The atmosphere was very different – sometimes even sterile – and many regular presenters and contributors were dropped.
This relaunch is sometimes forgotten now as the name remained.
Whatever happened behind-the-scenes, the subsequent changes into BBC Breakfast News in 1989 and Breakfast in its modern form in 2000 seemed evolutionary from the viewer’s perspective. There was no great controversy on either occasion.
After 2000 the atmosphere gradually got warmer and that old friendly atmosphere was restored.
Breakfast today is a news programme rooted in the BBC’s journalism.
But that friendliness and closeness to its audience is a tribute to the original Breakfast Time.
Perhaps the proof the pioneers got the basic style of presentation right came 20 years ago when Breakfast overtook GMTV in the ratings.
If only somebody in 1986 had realised that revamping the content did not mean breaking the relationship with the audience. Serious does not mean cold or impersonal.
PICTURED: BBC Breakfast Time logo (recreation). COPYRIGHT: BBC.