The Big Breakfast Gave Morning TV A Wake Up Call In The Nineties It's Time To Bring It Back

The Big Breakfast launched in September 1992 with the inauspicious words: “Are we still practising, Gab, or is this it?” A cameraman ran unsteadily up to presenters Chris Evans (ginger, bespectacled, cocky) and Gaby Roslin (blonde, smiley, a safe pair of hands), clutching clipboards beside the canalside cottage’s white picket fence.

“I wish we were Richard and Judy,” they riffed. “We’re not. But we will be in 12 months’ time if we’re lucky.” So began the show which would change the face of TV. It became talking point viewing and set out Channel 4’s irreverent identity from the start of each day’s schedules.

Made by Planet 24, the production company owned by Bob Geldof, The Big Breakfast was imbued with the edgy spirit of its late-night sister show The Word. Cameras roamed around. The whooping, guffawing crew were almost permanently in-shot. Without the safety net of an autocue, presenters appeared to be making it up as they went along. 

All lurid decor, cartoonish bacon-and-egg graphics and cheeky jingles, this was breakfast TV with a light entertainment sensibility, rather than a news agenda. As Channel 4’s chief executive Michael Grade told Geldof during the commissioning process: “I don't care if it's live from Platform 3 at Victoria Station. Just make it different."

Evans was a natural, forging immediate chemistry with Roslin. Geldof himself hosted a short-lived political interview slot. His wife, Paula Yates, grilled celebrities while sprawled seductively on pink satin sheets in her frou-frou “boudoir”. Sarky alien puppets Zig and Zag - hired by Geldof after he heard them on Irish radio - created mayhem in the bathroom during a surreal segment called The Crunch. 

Roving reporters included Keith “Cheggers” Chegwin. Segments included Show Us Your Behind, Court With Your Pants Down and Get Your Nobbly Nuts Out. You get the gist. 

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