There will be plenty said elsewhere about the problems currently facing This Morning.
Protecting the brand is vital to ITV.
But it will be a surprise to some that what may seem to be a harmless daytime magazine is quite so important.
ITV’s morning schedule from 6am through to the lunchtime news has a laser sharp focus on its target audience.
For most of that time, it is actually outrated by BBC One – sometimes by a significant margin. BBC Breakfast gets twice the headline rating of Good Morning Britain and Bargain Hunt trounces Loose Women in simple numbers.
But ITV daytime delivers the demographics the advertisers want and outrates all commercial rivals.
Four years ago ITV daytime faced a worse crisis when the Jeremy Kyle Show was unceremoniously axed.
The solution involved extending This Morning and the fact all the output up to 2pm is live certainly provides a niche.
Making sure Phillip Schofield’s departure does not harm This Morning or the rest of the daytime schedule will be a serious concern to ITV.
It would be unfair to look at a single week’s ratings in isolation – they can be affected by a multitude of factors including the weather. This week’s numbers were not always good though sometimes averaging around 500 – 600,000.
The departure of Richard and Judy in 2001 caused quite an upset – their initial replacements didn’t work out so Fern Britton and John Leslie got the show back on its feet.
Ironically his forced departure led to Phillip Schofield’s arrival as a permanent host.
If the current turbulence does not subside and if Mr Schofield is not successfully replaced, there could be a real headache for ITV.
This Morning may seem like a bit of harmless sunshine in the corner of the room to most of us – balanced by some useful items on health and consumer issues.
Some Sunday papers claim This Morning could be facing the axe. But it would seem hard to believe that this is a serious possibility at this stage even if the risk is real if the show does not not recover from the crisis.
And were it to be axed, I suspect it would be more of a rebranding. An attempt to produce a similar programme with familiar faces but free from the recent problems.
Perhaps the real risk is that all the continuing bad PR might damage ITV’s corporate reputation. Additionally, we don’t know how much further this story might go.
Meanwhile it is worth acknowledging that those Pres fans who still fondly remember Phillip Schofield in the broom cupboard may feel a certain sadness over the events of recent days.
Happy childhood memories can shape successful and secure adult lives. Sometimes these things provide a certain comfort at times when our adult lives get tough – stressful jobs, money, problems facing our own children, seeing ourselves or our own parents grow older.
The stories which have been reported concerning This Morning and Mr Schofield are completely unconnected with Children’s BBC and Going Live. He has not regularly appeared on BBC TV for many years.
For some of us though – fairly or unfairly – a lovely piece of our childhood which Mr Schofield was such an important part of may now be a place we cannot again easily revisit when we need a broad smile and reminder of carefree days.
PICTURED: Phillip Schofield presenting This Morning earlier this month. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.