Wake-up call: Can Cat Deeley break the mold at ITV This Morning? | Television

SFrom next week, Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard take over as the new main presenting team at This Morning on ITV1. After the ignominious and shocking departure of Phillip Schofield and then Holly Willoughby last year – and after they spent 20 years and 14 years respectively as hosts of TV’s most-watched breakfast show – this announces a significant change in television’s morning shift. But what is Deeley getting herself into, and does coffee-breath Britain deserve it?

Deeley warmly hailed his new home as a “national institution”. However, it seems that she initially refused the position. Then she wanted to co-present with Rylan Clark, not Shephard. None of this indicates that Deeley is truly retching over her new opportunity. Is she onto something? Is it time to ask: what is morning television TO DO Women’s ?

This Morning was first broadcast in 1988, but the feverish arena of British breakfast and morning television has lasted half a century: its surprisingly long history dates back to the 1970s. With that in mind , any beginner would do well to analyze the bizarre and complicated situation in which she finds herself.

When it comes to quintessential British morning television, some may automatically think of the ‘king of teeth grinding’ Richard Madeley, now co-host of ITV1’s Good Morning Britain with supernatural patient Susanna Reid. Madeley has a long and astonishing history (spanning This Morning from 1988 to 2002, with his wife, Judy, Finnegan) of Partridge-isms and industrial oversharing (“Remember when you had thrush, Judy? You had a terrible moment). .

Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley presented This Morning from its inception in 1988 until 2001. Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

However, anyone who watches it knows that morning television is much more varied (and even weirder) than Madeley. In addition to the blizzard of faces, there are also the ever-recurring morning TV keynotes. The awkward transitions between current events (war, disaster, politics), showbiz scandals, vasectomy phone calls, etc., and fashion articles (the panties are coming back!). The tone is extremely vacillating: part village festival, part red carpet, part hospital waiting room, part gladiator arena. Presenters have to manage all of this live and with limited sleep. How are they doing? One can only imagine a mix of refreshing makeup, Yorkshire Tea and hidden steel.

I’ve marveled before at the persistence of the creepy and archaic “wife/husband” co-hosting setup. There is currently a veritable battalion of presenters spread across all channels, including Naga Munchetty, Charlie Stayt, Dan Walker and Sally Nugent on BBC Breakfast, and Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary presenting This Morning on Friday.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it looks like a TV Relate session with links added. Nor can we deny the inherent weaknesses of too much morning television. The pale facsimile of human warmth. The militant cordiality, the rooted obsolescence. The determined banality. The feeling, at times, of entering a zombie broadcast zone (“After watching the weather forecast for the 40th time, we’re going to eat your brains”). Even the legendary happy couches can feel like padded tombs where hope and reason die. It’s safe to say that morning television has been stuck in a rut for years and sorely needs a boost.

Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on This Morning in March 2023 – the year they both left. Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Mind you, This Morning hasn’t been boring enough lately. Rather, he serves as a lightning rod for controversy. The scandal of then-hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby queuing to view the coffin of Queen Elizabeth 11 in 2022. Soon after, the palpable frost between them. Schofield then resigned after an affair with a much younger colleague. Willoughby returns from an extended hiatus, with his immortal opening salvo to viewers: “First of all, are you okay? Then came news of a serious and sinister kidnapping and death threats directed at Willoughby, leading to his own departure.

A series of shocking events, never before seen on morning TV. Where is it? In the late 1980s, it was reported that Frank Bough, formerly of BBC1 Breakfast Time, was taking cocaine and wearing lingerie to parties attended by sex workers. Bough’s Couch co-host Selina Scott said in a 2020 interview that Bough would deliberately interrupt her question mid-question to undermine her. Piers Morgan left This Morning after saying he did not believe Meghan Markle’s claims in her 2021 TV interview with Oprah, including allegations of racism. Real-life husband and wife team Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford have an ongoing problem with the manner of their eviction. Just last week on ITV1’s Celebrity Big Brother, housemate Fern Britton said she would leave if (her former sofa mate and now nemesis) Schofield entered the house. It seems there is a world of dark toxicity hidden beneath the plumping camaraderie of morning TV. Is there still time for Cat to run away?

After all, no shade on Shephard (a morning TV regular and a much-lauded “rock” for Reid and Kate Garraway), but it’s clear that most of the attention will be on new blood, Deeley. She will be the one to announce the changes. I hope she cuts out the Stepford Couch Woman bullshit and ushers in a fresher, fresher, more sisterly tone – if you will, a brave new era of Morning TV Woman.

Her British television career began with Saturday morning children’s TV shows SM:TV and CD:UK in the 1990s and 2000s. Deeley has a more left-field history of bantering with Ant and Dec, interviewing pop stars . Raised in the West Midlands, her many hats include actor, producer, model, author and patron of Great Ormond Street Hospital. A Bafta winner and Emmy nominee, her long and successful stint in the US, mainly presenting So You Think You Can Dance (the US version of Strictly Come Dancing), could provide a racy new vibe for This Morning viewers.

Cat Deeley with Ant and Dec on SM:TV – an ITV morning show for kids. Photography: returned

Additionally, Deeley comes across as quiet, discreet and private. What do we really know about her and her husband, the Northern Irish comedian and presenter Patrick Kielty (they married in 2012 and have two children). Not a lot. Which is revealing in itself. Whatever Deeley thinks on air, chances are we won’t hear about Kielty’s thrush.

Above all, his superpower seems to be “nice”. It was reported that she previously invited This Morning presenters Josie Gibson and Alison Hammond over for a girls’ night out. If you wanted to be cynical, you could think of this as a classic “girl” type soft power move, calibrated to win over (leftover) colleagues. Or maybe, just maybe, Deeley is actually a nice person. Which is a refreshing change from Willoughby’s image of the queen bee of the morning schedule. All those reports of Willoughby being spoiled, demanding, haughty, cliquey… Oh, but wait, was all that actually true?

Did Willoughby deserve to be burdened with this sulphurous reputation? Come to think of it, hasn’t Willoughby herself been hailed as a wonderful, fresh new presence on morning television?

It seems likely that Willoughby simply suffered the fate of many female morning TV presenters. Because aren’t these women regularly attacked? Munchetty is constantly criticized, for everything from her clothing to her “aggressive” interview style (is she supposed to sit in demure silence?). People like Hammond and Gibson are denounced as bland/authoritarian (delete where appropriate). Bless the morning TV GOAT, Madeley, but it’s hard to imagine Reid getting away with all his gaffes. When Garraway was struggling to care for her seriously ill and dying husband Derek Draper, she still couldn’t seem to escape the anger and censorship of some online newspaper comment sections.

It is likely that the problem is not with the presenters, but with those (viewers, media) who watch them. The unofficial British law that, after an initial (optional) period of love-bombing, certain female presenters must now be stalked and assaulted. That there is something about women having the audacity to sit behind those desks or on those couches that breeds sexist and misogynistic vitriol. It’s almost as if the nation saw them on television in the morning and thought they owned them.

It is certainly interesting that some female morning TV presenters seem to invite sustained levels of criticism, insults and unsolicited advice, comparable only to that of English football coaches. Will this fate befall Deeley? Will her TV honeymoon be over soon? Maybe it’s time for us – the public – to calm down about who’s sitting on our couches mid-morning. Maybe it’s not a question of whether Deeley can buck the morning TV trend, but rather whether we can.

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