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All our Yesterdays
Good Morning Britain
By Martin Kelner
Apr 11, 2002 - 2:16:00 PM

All Our Yesterdays
Article dated: Thursday 11 April 2002
Good Morning Britain

Now it can be told. The man who saved TV-am was not Greg Dyke, nor even Roland Rat, but Martin Wainwright, mild-mannered northern editor of The Guardian.

It is summer, 1983, and Good Morning Britain, TV-am's flagship show is floundering. Programme chief Peter Jay, once described as "the cleverest man in Britain", has served the nation a dog's breakfast, with his "famous five" presenters, David Frost, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford, Michael Parkinson, and Robert Kee, and his "mission to explain". A typical morning sees an item on female circumcision at 8.20, famously described on air by Anna Ford as "a ticklish subject".

In comes Greg Dyke from LWT, who brings in a more middle-market presentation team in Anne Diamond and Nick Owen, and crucially introduces the puppet Roland Rat (first time a rat ever joined a sinking ship, etc. etc.)

Much of this happens during the summer holidays when Nick is on holiday, so paper reviewer Wainwright is asked to partner Anne Diamond for two weeks. It is during those two weeks that TV-am overtakes the BBC's cosy Breakfast Time for the first time, and the corner is turned, despite Wainwright, in the words of one TV-am staffer, looking like "a rabbit caught in the headlights", a description from which the journalist himself does not demur.


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