Entertainment & Arts

High breakfast TV salaries 'alienate' viewers, says Nick Owen

Good Morning Britain hosts Sean Fletcher, Susanna Reid, Ben Shephard and Charlotte Hawkins
The Good Morning Britain team: Sean Fletcher, Susanna Reid, Ben Shephard and Charlotte Hawkins

Former TV-am host Nick Owen has claimed viewers are put off watching ITV's breakfast shows because of the high salaries paid to big-name presenters.

It comes as former BBC Breakfast host Susanna Reid prepares to front new show Good Morning Britain from next week, in a deal reported to be worth £1 million.

It replaces Daybreak, whose highly-paid launch presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley lasted one year.

Owen said press speculation about big salaries can "alienate viewers".

"Here's someone on a million pounds - you will enjoy them! Who can relate to a presenter like that?" he added.

Owen has extensive experience with breakfast TV, having started at TV-am's Good Morning Britain show in 1983 as a sports reporter before going on to become a main presenter with Anne Diamond until 1986.

Reid made the final of 2013's Strictly Come Dancing
After TV-am in the 1980s, Owen and Diamond also hosted Good Morning with Anne and Nick on the BBC in the 1990s

They helped to turn around the show's fortunes and it went on to be very successful.

Owen rejoined Diamond on the sofa in 1992 to co-present Good Morning with Anne and Nick on BBC One until 1996, and he now presents for the BBC's Midlands Today programme.

"I joined TV-am after a raft of big names had failed - David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford, Angela Rippon... they'd not caught on with the viewers at all," Owen told the Radio Times.

"They'd been turned down by Terry Wogan and Michael Aspel, so I was filling in until they could find someone, basically.

"But because no-one was watching, we could try things out."

Reid has said she quit the BBC last month after "a fabulous two decades" as the new ITV job was a "fantastic opportunity".

"At the age of 43, I have got three children and I have been a journalist for more than 20 years - and so I do hope I know a few things about quite a lot of stuff," Reid said.

"It's not often in your career you get the opportunity to build something new that is really exciting and so engaging.

"I do like to challenge myself and do things that are different. It's good to push yourself."

Since Daybreak replaced GMTV in 2010, ITV has continued to struggle to compete with BBC Breakfast's viewing figures.

On Thursday 17 April, an average of 489,300 tuned in to Daybreak while an average 1.38 million watched Breakfast on BBC One.

Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley hosted The One Show together before launching ITV's Daybreak

ITV has not commented on how much Reid will be paid when she joins Ben Shephard, Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher on Good Morning Britain.

The presenter has said she is less nervous about fronting the new show than she was about appearing on Strictly Come Dancing last year.

"I don't dread anything. Even the early morning alarm clock," she told the Radio Times.

"When you have done Strictly Come Dancing live on a Saturday night in front of millions... I'll never be that nervous again."

Daybreak has gone through both line-up changes and four different editors since its inception in 2010.

Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones became Daybreak's presenters in September 2012, taking over from former GMTV presenter Kate Garraway and Dan Lobb.

The pair had been filling in since Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley left the programme in November 2011, 14 months after Daybreak's highly publicised launch.

ITV's head of daytime programmes Helen Warner said Good Morning Britain's number one priority would be "engaging, news-driven content".

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