The dawn chorus - the dynamics of morning TV
As TV3 prepares to launch a new weekend breakfast show, Emily Hourican takes a look at the dynamics of morning television
Is it a sign of our ever more fast-paced and relentless lives that TV3 has taken its morning show, Ireland AM, to seven days? Morning TV shows have traditionally been a weekday thing, a way of waking up the nation before another working day, with snippets of news, interviews and lifestyle items. More current affairs-driven and formal than the afternoon shows, morning TV was a kind of slow start for a day that was only going one way: the busy way.
In contrast, weekend TV is usually a more haphazard affair - cartoons for the kids, old black-and-white movies for the exhausted and nostalgic, sport for the obsessed. A recognition that capital-L Life could be switched off, ignored, for a while. But perhaps that distinction is being eroded by the always-on generation, with weekends now to be treated as any other day?
First Ireland AM became a more newsy show, possibly in response to RTE's launch of Morning Edition with Keelin Shanley (sadly discontinued last year), now it is going to stretch the full seven days, with Saturday AM and Sunday AM. The new format will launch on August 29, with Anna Daly, who has been with the station for six years and is an Ireland AM stalwart. On Saturdays she will be joined by Simon Delaney, whom she recently described on Twitter as her "new 'Saturday AM' telly hubby", and on Sundays by Ivan Yates.
On Saturdays, the main focus of the show will be food, lifestyle and celebrity features, with cooking demonstrations and live reports from events and festivals around Ireland. Sundays will be a more sober affair, with a focus on current affairs and a look back at the week's top stories. Essentially, two new shows, but under an established banner and without swerving too much from a tried and tested format. The station will be hoping to attract new viewers - and, crucially, more male viewers.
The idea is a good one, and the profiles of presenters also good; on the strength of his Newstalk performance, Ivan has much to offer a Sunday morning audience - the question though is really one of chemistry.
The formula for this kind of show doesn't vary much, neither does the tone: upbeat, fast-moving, slightly superficial: "And so Greece teeters on the brink. More on that later. Now, a dog that can read Tolstoy ..." Without a certain vibe between presenters, even the comically fractious one that exists between Ivan and fellow Newstalk presenter Chris Donoghue, the interactions are uninteresting and the show leaden, no matter how many celebrity and lifestyle stories appear.
The chemistry kings of morning TV were probably Denise van Outen and Johnny Vaughan (although things soured somewhat between them later), on The Big Breakfast on Channel4 back in the 1990s, while Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles had their moment too, first with The One Show on BBC1, and then the ill-advised move to Daybreak on ITV. On Ireland AM, Sinead Desmond and Mark Cagney have what it takes - they both complement and challenge each other, in a way that is reassuring but sufficiently sparky, while over on RTE, Daithi O Se and Maura Derrane manage an engaged, chirpy chat on the Today Show that, although unlikely to set the world on fire, is nicely soothing.
On BBC1, Breakfast with Bill Turnbull, Louise Minchin, Naga Munchetty and Stephanie McGovern, gathers interviews with Ian McKellen and Pharrell WIlliams, as well as various human interest pieces, and is a good, though relentlessly positive, barometer of life in Britain.
It may also be a good model for TV3's new ambitions as it is broadcast seven days a week, and manages to convey desirable continuity rather than a frantic inability to switch off.
Sunday Indo Living