BBC News

Wright leaves The Wright Stuff

Amol Rajan
Media editor
@amolrajanBBCon Twitter

Published

Matthew Wright always said to me that he would stop presenting The Wright Stuff when it stopped being fun. (I was the on-screen audience researcher from 2005-7).

Recently, it stopped being fun.

image copyrightChannel 5
image captionMatthew Wright is to leave The Wright Stuff after 18 years

Until last year, the show was made by Princess Productions, an independent production company. The company was set up in 1996, and bought by the production giant Endemol Shine in 2007.

Last May, Endemol Shine shut Princess Productions. Under Ben Frow, Director of Programmes, Channel 5 invited various bids for the right to produce the show.

I was contacted by several senior producers in the industry who wanted to know more about the show, which was an attractive proposition.

It rated relatively well for the Channel, had a proven formula, and its longevity made it a key part of the Channel 5 brand. It also made noise on social media, and occasionally generated news and profile for the channel.

In the end, ITN won the right to broadcast the show. But the move was an uncomfortable one. Many of the staff who had long worked on the show were not brought over, and there were technical issues in the studio.

Over the past several months, the show has maintained its audience share, but away from the cameras there has been tension aplenty.

ITN is an outstanding international production company, with an exceptional record in News. The Wright Stuff is an entertaining chat show. It is certainly driven by the News and presented by a former tabloid hack; but its jovial and fun spirit struggled to make the transition into a new culture.

Today, after 18 years, Wright has pulled the plug. His departure poses Channel 5 with a dilemma.

The money that was saved by switching to ITN was potentially going to be re-invested into prime-time slots.

But now the Channel has to choose whether to try to replace Wright and build a new show around fresh talent, which will involve a name change for starters, or whether to go in a new direction completely.

That might strike some as an opportunity. Yet, at a time when linear, ad-funded broadcasters are under huge structural pressure from the shift to mobile, growth in streaming, and influx of vast cash from digital giants like Netflix and Amazon, losing an established and popular proposition is a headache Channel 5 could do without.

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