Rob Yandell

Editor, Publisher, Events

Has ITV not learnt its lesson, BBC poaching doesn’t guarantee success

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It has been reported that BBC Breakfast star Susanna Reid is being lined up to front yet another revamped morning show on ITV with the promise of a £1m deal and less train time.

Great news for Susanna, who gained more star status after her turn on the dance floor during the last series of Strictly Come Dancing. The question I ask myself though, is why does ITV continue to poach the BBC’s talent for such large fees after so many failures?

There have been a number of high-profile ‘transfers’ over the years; I am sure more than I can recall. But some people just work on the Beeb and seem rather out of the place when they’re suddenly under the glare of an expectant audience, half of whom probably delight when it all goes wrong.

BBC Breakfast

Susanna on the famous BBC Breakfast couch with co-host Charlie Stayt, but for how much longer?

We all used to love Des Lynam didn’t we? He was cool, classy and he delivered every Saturday night for Match of the Day and on a number of other television and radio shows. ITV bagged the Premier League football highlights from the BBC and needed a surefire hit; so who better than Des? Unfortunately the most memorable aspect of The Premiership, as it was called, was Andy Townsend’s Tactics Truck. We longed for the footy to be back on BBC1 – yes ITV had the majority of the live terrestrial football but its coverage lacked soul.

What can we do, they thought, when planning the show before making a lazy decision. We won’t promote from within, we’ll pay top dollar for a ready-made front man who will tick every box instantly. Des, as you might recall, looked uncomfortable in his new environment as he juggled with commercial breaks and new co-workers.

And he’s not been the only one. What about Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley?

It all got a bit ugly as Chiles created a storm when told he would front The One Show from Monday to Thursday, but step aside on a Friday for Chris Evans. You can’t blame Adrian, it was a little unfair. Both Adrian and Christine oozed on-screen chemistry and turned the evening magazine show into one of the channel’s most popular programmes.

Adrian Chiles, Christine Bleakley and Lorraine...

Remember when Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley were going to light up our mornings on Daybreak? (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

ITV has decided to drop the long-running GMTV breakfast programming and inject some new life into their weekday morning schedule. So would they promote new talent? No, a tried and tested formulae would do it. Hastily signed big money contracts and suddenly Daybreak was thrust upon us with Chiles and Bleakley heading up the presenting talent. Chiles has poached Christine it was reported, after deciding to get his own back on his former employers.

But there was too much PR, too much publicity, it was doomed to fail. The relaxed, seemingly genuine banter from The One Show appeared false and forced. Audiences dwindled, the media had a field day and within what seemed no time at all we were back to the old familiar faces from GMTV.

So, back to Susanna….

I complain about an hour commute on the M1 every day, but Susanna goes from London to Manchester for BBC Breakfast. You cannot blame her for looking at options closer to home. But not many have moved from the BBC to ITV and made it work. Good luck to her.

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Author: Rob Yandell

Editor, publisher, event organiser.

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