The press loves to kick the BBC. And its mentality is far more readily satisfied by the commercial mindset, so Sky and ITV usually get favourable coverage. So why is there such a lot of interest in ITV’s new breakfast offering, Good Morning Britain, which we now know will make its debut at 0600 hours next Monday? Because, to paraphrase Auric Goldfinger, they expect it to die.
As I noted earlier in the week, there was a bout of Susanna Reid bashing when the show’s line-up was revealed: this was to generate lots of sales and clicks on the back of recycling stories about Strictly, Ms Reid’s home life, and the size of the wad that she has secured for the benefit of Herself Personally Now, which is the point where right-wing papers suddenly turn against free market economics.
Has anything changed as launch day approaches? Well, the size of the Reid remuneration had dropped from a reported £1 million to a reported £400,000, which suggests that either ITV have secured her services for at least two and a half years, or whoever broke the story at the People was thinking of a rather bigger number than the parties to the contract had agreed.
Otherwise, the smallest detail is being pored over: “The backdrop of the set is expected to feature a London skyline, with St Paul's Cathedral among the prominent landmarks”. No shit, Sherlock. “Susanna revealed she is not going to bother going to sleep at all on Sunday night”. No she didn’t – she said “I'm not sure I'm going to go to bed at all on Sunday night”. Daily Mail strikes again.
And there is nothing new in a Mail piece telling “TV star Susanna Reid has denied that the ‘curse of Strictly’ played a part in the breakdown of her relationship. The 43-year-old newsreader, who quit her role as BBC Breakfast co-presenter to move to rivals ITV, said she remains friends with the father of her three children, Dominic Cotton” showing Ms Reid getting papped on Platform 6 at Manchester Piccadilly.
No, the constant stream of articles is for one reason, and one alone: the knowledge of what happened when ITV poached Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. That ended in ratings disaster, but yielded an embarrassment of riches for under-pressure hacks in need of cheap copy. What the mid-market and red-top titles dearly want to see is an addition to the list compiled by Jonathan Maitland for the Telegraph.
This details all those who went from BBC to ITV and failed, digging down right to the bedrock – which is how they unearthed the name of Simon Dee. Yes, Maitland had to go back well over 40 years for his research, but that is the expectation: after all, ITV have had more than one breakfast TV disaster. So there they all are, hovering like vultures, ready to pick apart Good Morning Britain.
Will there be bad reviews next week? You need to ask? It’s a racing certainty.