Good Evening Britain should be a regular fixture

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Good Evening Britain should be a regular fixture

July 01, 2018 - 12:03
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When Piers Morgan first joined Good Morning Britain back in 2015, everything changed. In its first 18 months on air, with Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid at the helm, it was another ailing attempt by ITV at trying to recapture the magic of GMTV in its glory days.

Good Evening Britain

By Matthew Gormley @MatthewPGormley

When Piers Morgan first joined Good Morning Britain back in 2015, everything changed. In its first 18 months on air, with Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid at the helm, it was another ailing attempt by ITV at trying to recapture the magic of GMTV in its glory days.

Two incarnations of the predecessor Daybreak barley managed four years between them and, in its first 18 months on air, GMB’s ratings were even lower. Then, along came Piers. He tore up the breakfast telly rulebook and re-oiled the wheel. The ratings have sky-rocketed and Good Morning Britain has become the breakfast show that everybody goes to work talking about.

This week, as football fever swept the country following the England team’s sensational runaway win against Panama last Sunday, Piers and Susanna made the defiant leap to primetime with a special Good Evening Britain. Airing live on the network directly after the coverage of the match against Belgium, Piers and Susanna broke boundaries yet again by bringing the breakfast news to bedtime.

It was highly risky, highly energetic and highly random. ‘We are live, we’re on late and we’re with you for the next hour’, beamed Susanna as she introduced this first of its kind broadcast. ‘Well that went well, didn’t it?’, Piers responded, launching into a rant about England’s disappointing performance thanks to manager Gareth Southgate’s bizarre line up choices.

Luckily, the energy in the studio wasn’t diminished by the lads’ poor performance and the hour that followed was as unpredictable as you’d expect from primetime Piers and crew.

It was a very slick set-up, with the usual studio preened and polished, the lights dimmed and the graphics a little more subtle than the traditional orange colour scheme. But whilst the studio, the on-screen banners and the hosts may have had you questioning whether you’d woken up late for work or failed to get home from your night out in time, the content certainly didn’t.

Some of the guests were relevant, others were downright bizarre. Harry Redknapp and David Ginola I could understand. Redknapp is a seasoned pro with a long managerial history so could have dissected Southgate’s strategy, whilst Ginola’s is one of the most famous faces of the footballing world and can draw in viewers just with his presence.

The rest of the contributors were the definition of eclectic. EastEnders actor Danny Dyer took Piers to task about his loathing of Love Island, jumping to the defence of the daughter with whom he shares a name and her fellow islanders. Danny didn’t seem to mind a jot that offspring Dani will become famous for absolutely no reason whatsoever. No, he’s of the opinion that being a reality star is now a credible career path and a perfectly reasonable way to earn a million bucks. No talent required. Like father, like daughter, I suppose, but at least Danny is supposed to be an actor.

When talk turned to politics, the potty-mouthed ‘geezer’ soon dropped a T-bomb that even a post-watershed offering would shy away from, in reference to former Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to resign following the referendum result two years ago. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sat at the other end of the desk grinning from ear to ear, echoing the thoughts of many viewers on Twitter, who praised Danny for summing up the current political landscape. But regardless of the time of night, or indeed of your political persuasion, talking about a former PM using such a vile term is unacceptable. The fact that the hosts failed to apologise was extremely poor in taste. Piers laughed it off and Susanna, the ex-BBC news presenter who is usually nothing but utterly professional, just crooked her mouth to the camera as if to say ‘uh-oh’.

The day that we manage to get through the morning programme without Brexit popping up in one of the headlines is a rarity. So did the one and only edition of Good Evening Britain really need to stray into the cross-party cat-fighting that perpetually engulfs Westminster? Would a night off really have been too much to ask?

Only once during the hour did we cross live to Russia to gauge the reaction of the crowd leaving the stadium. The pictures were so poor it looked like a live stream from a wonky camera phone and the sound was barely audible, so they pulled the plug after 90 seconds and instead cut to Andi Peters, who was live from Emmerdale’s Woolpack, where a bunch of strangers were having a good old knees up with a handful of cast members. For a show with a purpose of capturing the mood of the nation after the game, perhaps more of this was needed. What wasn’t needed was the competition segment which interrupts the regular morning broadcast far too often.

Good Evening Britain wasn’t exactly ground-breaking. If the format had been as slick as the graphics, it would have been. As a concept, it had so much potential. The magic morning formula could easily have been carried over to primetime. Rather than jumping from the football to politics to Love Island and then back to football again, a tighter running order and more carefully planned agenda would have avoided the moments of carnage. Sure, it was supposed to be a relaxed, informal celebration, but in parts it came across as being thrown together.

Personally, with a little bit of tidying up, I’d love to see Good Evening Britain become a regular fixture. Piers teased that it could become a must-see after every major event, but, with a bit of polishing, it would also work in a weekly slot. And given that I wake up every Thursday and Friday morning with major Morgan withdrawal symptoms, I wouldn’t say no to an extra dose of Piers of an evening.

Good Morning Britain continues, weekday mornings on ITV, 6.00 am – 8.30 am.