Richard and Judy: BBC has its work cut out with launch of new morning show

Morning Live has launched on the BBC in the same time slot as ITV stalwart Lorraine.

Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley
Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley

The BBC has its “work cut out” with a new morning TV show, former daytime stars Richard and Judy have said.

Morning Live has launched on BBC One in the same time slot as ITV stalwart Lorraine.

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan hosted This Morning for 13 years following its launch and are now celebrating 10 years of their book club.

Finnigan, 72, told the PA news agency it was a “no brainer for the BBC” to launch a new morning show but it faced tough competition.

“Lorraine is fantastically popular.

“As she has shown over the years and years that she has stayed at the helm of that show, she’s really made herself a legend in that time slot,” she said.

The BBC's new show goes up against Lorraine Kelly
The BBC’s new show goes up against Lorraine Kelly (David Perry/PA)

“Good luck to them. I wish any new TV show enormous luck, everybody needs a great deal of luck launching anything these days.

“I hope it works but I think it’s got its work cut out against Lorraine, very much so.”

Madeley, 64, warned that the BBC previously suffered a “bloody nose” when it attempted to go up against This Morning.

“We came on the air in 1988 and rapidly built a big audience,” he told PA.

“The BBC, looked at this and thought, ‘We’ll have some of that’ and saw a ‘big, juicy’ opportunity.

“They launched a couple of series against us … and I think the BBC got a bloody nose as far as the This Morning slot was concerned and they left it alone.

Morning Live is hosted by Kym Marsh and Gethin Jones (BBC)

“It’s still a juicy target so clearly they’re having another pop”, Madeley said of the morning TV audience.

Hosted by Kym Marsh and Gethin Jones, Morning Live launched on Monday, after BBC Breakfast, and will air until Christmas on BBC One.

Richard and Judy, speaking before Morning Live made its debut, are celebrating 10 years of the Richard and Judy Book Club, with WHSmith.

To mark the moment, they have launched a six-week podcast series featuring celebrity guests and authors of some of their favourite novels.

Finnigan said she is a “voracious reader” and that helped in lockdown.

“Reading has been my complete saviour because you escape when you read,” she said.

Richard and Judy (WHSmith/PA)

“You escape into somebody else’s world and that’s about the best kind of tranquilliser you can have.”

The couple said lockdown was nothing new for their relationship as they have lived in their own “mutual bubble” for years.

“We got married in 1986 … and did about 22 years together of daily television, driving to the studios, doing the show, the meetings after the show, driving home, looking after the kids, going to bed, getting into work again.

“So we’ve been locked down together for f*****g 30 years”, Madeley quipped.

“I would probably drop dead of a heart attack if I learnt something new about Judy now!”

Richard and Judy are celebrating 10 years of their book club (Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast)

Finnigan said the titles in their book club, unlike those on the Booker shortlist, should appeal to readers who want to get lost in a good story.

She said of the prestigious Booker Prize: “They’re not aimed at ordinary people, the ordinary, book-reading person who goes into a bookshop and is faced with this vast array of titles and who doesn’t know what to choose….

“For the Booker Prize, it’s often down to the way a person writes but possibly has very little to do with the story, and I think most people really want to read a story that takes them from A to B.”

Madeley said there is a lot of “snobbery in the literary world”.

“Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels literally sell in billions,” he said. “Whenever anybody who is quite erudite and well-read and literary admits enjoying the writing, they sound a bit embarrassed.”

Featured authors in the podcast include include Gillian Flynn, Heather Morris, Emma Donoghue, David Nicholls and Jessie Burton as well as celebrity guests Alex Jones, Rob Rinder and Richard Osman.

The Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast is available on all podcast providers.

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