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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
A marriage made on morning TV
Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan
Looking ahead to a new Channel 4 chat show
By the BBC's Michael Osborn

The monarchs of daytime television have abdicated.

Across the land a whole community of avid viewers will be sitting on their sofas, dewy-eyed.

Richard and Judy have finally cast aside their mantle as the undisputed king and queen of This Morning, which over the past 13 years has propelled daytime television into another dimension.

Richard and Judy
Cosy, but often controversial
The show of celebrity guests, problem-solving and dishing out golden cash prizes will live to fight another day - but the star ingredient was certainly the gilded couple themselves.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan are of course married in "real life", which gave them the edge over all pretenders to their throne.

Chemistry

Early challengers Anne and Nick on the BBC were trounced in the ratings - a lovely enough couple, but not man and wife.

Viewers quickly warmed to the duo, whose personal chemistry sparkled on the screen.

Those little gestures, the occasional glance and their little spats were never played down on air.

Examination on the Richard and Judy show
The show gave TV its first testicular cancer exam
And they also let the great British public glimpse at their family life - their four children put in appearances with satisfying regularity, which made them "like us".

The pair cleverly gathered their on-screen family all around them, with agony aunt Denise and Dr Chris Steele solving the nation's dilemmas with soothing aplomb.

Cosy

And the golden couple always had their say as well, making them appear warm and human.

Richard and Judy's show was not all about cosy coffee-time chats with soap stars and the latest trends in vegetable gardening.

They kept the viewers glued by treading into previously unseen - and often controversial - domains.

Morning time television was treated to its first dangling testicle thanks to Richard and Judy.

While the tabloids screeched, it was a no-nonsense way to address the real life issue of testicular cancer.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan
Richard and Judy: personal chemistry
Other moments which whipped up a storm were the infamous Viagra trial, where willing couples were packed off to a hotel to put the passion-perker to the test.

The gay partnership ceremony showed that Richard and Judy's world was all-inclusive.

Cult

The pair's success won them fans far and wide.

Students built the show into a cult, and Richard and Judy into TV icons.

And Richard responded to this trendiness with his impersonation of Ali G, while Judy's bra-revealing antics did her no damage.

For this writer, watching as a student, while "resting" and as a media journalist alike, Richard and Judy's show has always been a staple - and it is they who plainly made it click.

Richard and Judy's departure brings to an end a golden era of daytime viewing.

The show of course must go on, but it seems impossible that their shoes will ever be filled.

They always made sure an ordinary person won thousands for answering a few simple questions.

Judy always showed palpable emotion with callers' gritty dilemmas - and Richard always tried his best to offer some advice.

It seemed they cared about real people, and gave the impression that they were almost ordinary themselves.

Let's hope these national treasures do not fade into obscurity as they move on to less certain pastures new.

See also:

04 May 01 | TV and Radio
Richard and Judy quit ITV
12 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Richard and Judy bow out
19 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Springer presents UK TV show
04 May 01 | TV and Radio
Daytime TV's royal couple
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Richard and Judy screen gay wedding
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