Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 12:36 UK

Richard and Judy: End of an Era

It is the end of an era. Daytime TV's favourite couple, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, are presenting their last terrestrial television show after 20 years.

Richard and Judy
The couple left ITV in 2001

Although the husband-and-wife team will continue to work on new multi-channel TV service Watch, many fans who do not have access to the channel will mourn the loss of their daily dose of friendly banter and the odd cross word between the famous pair.

Madeley and Finnigan began their careers on local newspapers and regional TV, but found national fame when they began fronting new Granada programme This Morning in 1988.

TV icons

Their relaxed style and personal chemistry soon proved to be a hit on the programme which was originally broadcast from Liverpool before moving to London in 1996.

The show garnered lots of headlines for its controversial topics - including when Dr Chris Steele conducted a testicular examination of volunteer Alan Reeves on camera in 1999 to publicise the dangers of testicular cancer.

Alistair McGowan and Ronnie Ancon
The couple were sent up on Alistair McGowan's Big Impressions

In 2000, Madeley appeared as a "guest" on the programme, dressed up as Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego Ali G.

The show became cult viewing for students and turned the couple into TV icons.

On Valentine's Day, 2001, Richard and Judy televised a live gay "wedding".

Defecting to Channel 4 to front a new teatime programme later that year was a bold move and initial viewing figures were disappointing, but ratings picked up in its second year.

The show - simply titled Richard and Judy - had similarities to This Morning, with celebrity guests and topical discussions, although it made a deliberate move away from fashion and makeover slots.

Richard and Judy's book club, which began as a regular feature of the show in 2004, has been credited with boosting ratings.

The club has helped increase sales of books that have been included on the show.

Madeley and Finnigan's favourite book featured in the first year, Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea, went on to become a bestseller.

Richard and Judy
The couple left ITV for Channel 4 in 2001

The show has attracted some big name guests over the last seven years - Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Tony Blair, JK Rowling, Ben Affleck and Owen Wilson to name but a few.

Cherie Blair famously rang up the couple on the show in 2005 to complain that her husband, then Prime Minister Tony Blair, never buys her flowers.

But the programme was hit by controversy earlier this year when it emerged that viewers were urged to call its You Say, We Pay quiz after potential winners had already been chosen.

The company that ran the competition, Eckoh UK Ltd, were fined 150,000 for the incident.

Literary direction

Madeley and Finnigan had initially announced they were to quit presenting daily shows together in November 2007, but would continue to work on other TV projects.

But the lure back proved too great and it was later announced in July 2008 that the pair would front a new primetime show on multi-channel TV service Watch.

At the time Finnigan said that it was public opinion that convinced her and her husband to carry on their TV career together.

The couple are still in talks with Channel 4 to present a spin-off Book Club series, as well as other specials including A Summer Read and The British Book Awards.

But their literary direction may prove a little too high brow for those whose best memories of the pair include Finnigan's famous bra exposure at the National Television Awards and Madeley's cringe-worthy Ali G moment.

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