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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Richard and Judy defend show
Richard and Judy
Richard and Judy joined Channel 4 in a blaze of publicity
TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have admitted that their Channel 4 show did not have a successful start.

The couple left ITV1's This Morning last year after 13 years of dominating daytime TV ratings to front a new early evening show.


This suggestion that we're some kind of megalomaniacs is so far from the truth that it does annoy me

Judy Finnigan
But viewing figures have been disappointing and the magazine-style show has been beaten in the ratings by American episodes of The Weakest Link on BBC Two.

Last week the Independent Television Commission singled out the show for criticism in its annual report.

It said the programme had "failed to live up to its expectations".

'Experimentation'

In an interview with Heat magazine the couple admitted the format had not been right in the first few weeks.

"There was a lot of experimentation in the first month. Week after week we were trying new stuff, and that was really tiring," Madeley said.


We're getting a lot more viewers than we did on This Morning

Richard Madeley
He added: "So I wouldn't say that the first month was enjoyable and of course it was conducted in the full glare of publicity."

His wife conceded that there was "too much going on" when the show began, adding that its launch had been "like giving birth to a baby - it's hard labour".

But they said they did not feel they had made a mistake by switching channels from the more mainstream ITV to Channel 4.

"It is the third most-watched programme on Channel 4 by share, which is all you can go by," Madeley said, who denied the programme was a ratings flop.

"And I'd ask anyone who cares about our ratings to just check if our show is getting more viewers than we did on ITV, and they'll tell you that we're getting a lot more viewers than we did on This Morning."

Fern Britton
Fern Britton now co-presents This Morning
Their show, called Richard and Judy, attracts an audience of about 1.9 million viewers in its 1700 BST slot, compared with the 1.4 million viewers who watched This Morning last year before the couple left.

But in the mid-1990s almost three million regularly tuned in to the ITV show, turning the couple into household names.

Finnigan also dismissed reports that the couple had a strained relationship with staff on the show.

"We actually really enjoy working closely with our team. I love the people I work with," she said.

"And this suggestion that we're some kind of megalomaniacs is so far from the truth that it does annoy me."

The couple were replaced on This Morning by Fern Britton and John Leslie, after a partnership between Twiggy Lawson and Coleen Nolan saw ratings plummet, and former model Lawson departed the show soon after.

This Morning, which is also presented by Coleen Nolan on Fridays, currently peaks at about 1.1 million viewers.

See also:

27 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Weakest Link beats Richard and Judy
26 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Richard and Judy talk teatime
04 May 01 | TV and Radio
Richard and Judy quit ITV
04 May 01 | TV and Radio
Daytime TV's royal couple
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