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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 10:30 GMT
Toasting the end of The Big Breakfast
Johnny Vaughan and Liza Tarbuck
Johnny Vaughan and Liza Tarbuck were a hit
BBC News Online looks back at Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, which ended on Friday after 10 years on our screens.

The Big Breakfast has made stars out of presenters and entertained millions of viewers.

Johnny Vaughan, Liza Tarbuck and Chris Evans all have the Big Breakfast to thank for propelling them to stardom.

The show broke the mould of morning television when it was launched in 1992.

Chris Evans made his name on the show
Chris Evans made his name on the show
At that time, viewers had the choice of the more comfortable and homely morning programmes of GMTV or Anne Diamond and Nick Owen on BBC One.

The show was the brainchild of rock star Bob Geldof and television executives Waheed Alli and Charlie Parsons, and their production company Planet 24.

Original hosts Gaby Roslin and Chris Evans immediately forged an on-screen chemistry and the mix of celebrities, chat and games proved an instant draw to a generation of viewers that had previously been neglected by morning TV.

At its peak, The Big Breakfast was pulling in two million viewers - or 27% of the available breakfast TV audience.

It was primarily aimed at the youth market, but also attracted families and became a TV talking point.

Gaby Roslin and Paula Yates were also original presenters
Gaby Roslin and Paula Yates were also original presenters
There was nothing high-brow about The Big Breakfast.

Puppets Zig and Zag made surreal, zany appearances while the late Paula Yates would openly flirt with her guests as she interviewed them on a huge bed.

In fact, that is where she first met rock star Michael Hutchence - a meeting that would lead to their relationship, a child and, it could be argued, both of their deaths.

When Evans and Roslin quit the show in the mid-90s, producers searched for a new line-up that could create the same chemistry.

But a succession of presenters failed to measure up, including Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, ex-Neighbours actor Mark Little and Zoe Ball and viewers began to switch off.

But help was at hand with the dream teaming of Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen, who came together in 1997.

The Big Breakfast's Johnny Vaughan and Kelly Brook
Kelly Brook was ridiculed for her presenting
Vaughan's quick wit held the show together, while Van Outen traded on her Essex girl image to get the laughs and the ratings graph pointed upwards again.

Moments like Vaughan interviewing Tom Cruise in a garden shed were typical of the irreverent atmosphere that audiences wanted to be a part of.

When Van Outen left at the beginning of 1999, producers hoped 19-year-old model Kelly Brook would recreate her lively partnership with Vaughan - but her performances on the programme were heavily criticised.

A memo from the programme's producers - leaked on the internet - advised writers to avoid "difficult" words in her scripts.

Van Outen briefly returned the following year, but she and Vaughan could not recreate their former glories - at least in ratings terms.

The show was given a new look and a new team of five presenters, including actress Donna Air and comedian Paul Tonkinson.

Donna Air, Paul Tonkinson and Amanda Byram started in 2001
Donna Air, Paul Tonkinson and Amanda Byram started in 2001
But Tonkinson was sacked after two months as viewing figures continued to fall.

Producers tried tricks like Streaky Bacon - a slot in which disgraced Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon would persuade a member of the public to run up a street naked.

He was also seen interviewing Jennifer Lopez in her hotel's kitchen, when she made him do the washing up and scrutinised his work over his shoulder.

But the show was attracting an audience of less than 300,000 and was being beaten by Channel 5 children's programme Bear In The Big Blue House.

The ratings were also just a quarter of those attracted by its ITV1 competitor GMTV.

As an advertising slump bit and Planet 24 had no new tricks up its sleeve, Channel 4 had little choice but to bring it to an end.

See also:

28 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
Big bang for final Big Breakfast
18 Mar 02 | TV and Radio
Gallagher lines up Channel 4 breakfast
20 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Sky wins Big Breakfast slot
17 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Big Breakfast rapped for jokes
19 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Big Breakfast washed up
06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Big Breakfast host sacked
22 Jan 01 | Entertainment
New faces at Big Breakfast
12 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Breakfast over for Denise and Johnny
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