The Daily Telegraph
Unutterably awful: GB News’ breakfast show is a dog’s dinner
When GB News head honcho Andrew Neil announced he was bringing something new to the table he possibly forgot that people don’t like new things at breakfast. Breakfast is for toast, Bran Flakes, possibly bacon but definitely not surprises and certainly not a Culture War. The new station, officially launched on Sunday evening, pledged disruption – again, not really a thing unless the pubs are open – and giving ordinary people a voice. Seriously?
For those of us who can barely look our own spouses in the eye before the first coffee of the day, “ordinary people’s voices” had the ominous ring of a threat rather than a promise.
But as it happened the sound on The Great British Breakfast was so comically bad it was often hard to hear anyone; the outside broadcasts were beset by glitches and amateurish, out-of-synch pieces to camera. The contrast with the breezily (forcefully) enthusiastic delivery of the presenters was so marked I was left hammering the volume up and down on the remote like a demented gamer.
But GB News was playing for real; breakfast time is the battleground on which any new station must fight for ratings and we were assured it would be appointment television. Truthfully the only less palatable appointment I can imagine would be a root canal. Wherever you sat on the political spectrum, this was unutterably awful; boring, repetitive and cheapskate.
The three anchors did their best. My God, they did their best. On a day when Raheem Sterling ruled after giving England its first ever opening victory in the Euros, GB News didn’t even play any footage of the match.
It’s hard to claim then, it was covering the stories “that matter to you”. Instead Kirsty Gallagher (smoky nightclub eyes), Nana Akua (amazing upper arms) and Darren Mccaffrey (thwarted mansplainer who needs to work on his facial expression when someone disagrees with him) chitchatted about whether fans who booed players taking the knee were racist.
Their sheer staying power was reminiscent of the old-fashioned voice-overs for the Lord Mayor’s Show – endless filling-in during the interminable longueurs. Meanwhile, over on BBC Breakfast, there was a jolly item on the auction of the tiny yellow 30D bikini that pinged off Barbara Windsor in Carry on Camping. I wish I could haver stayed longer but I was contractually obliged to return to GB News and it was back to the same discussion about the easing – or not
– of lockdown. Of course it was.
Mccaffrey wanted Freedom Day to go ahead on 21 June. Akua felt we should wait. There’s proof of balance for you, folks. There were vanishingly few facts and figures, just feelings. Strongly held admittedly, but feelings.
Across on Good Morning Britain, where professional contrarian Piers Morgan’s loss echoes round the studio, they had Richard Madeley getting aerated. Nothing new in that but at least the set was brightly lit; the Stygian gloom of The Great British Breakfast would presumably explain Gallagher’s smouldering kohl.
I really didn’t want to go back but at least I had Rosie Wright, an awardwinning defector from Euronews, to look forward to. She was TV gold and her microphone (mostly) worked as she reported on major happenings in Hawick in Scotland.
Why Hawick? That’s the People’s Agenda for you. In terms of regional reach, the programme did quite well but it was all so unremittingly dreary that I struggled to engage; I never thought I’d miss graphics and whizzy special effects and busyness but I did.
The show ran an exclusive interview with Priti Patel which gave the Home Secretary an easier ride than she would have had on Woman’s Hour.
I can only assume this was in order to reassure big hitters than GB News is friend not foe. Still, it felt like an opportunity wasted.
The Great British Breakfast is unlikely to blast the opposition out of the water unless someone – those investors who live abroad – pumps a lot more money into it and switches on the lights. Optics matter at 6am. So does sound quality. Headlines would be a help too, especially in the morning. But who am I to quibble with the GB News vision of a news channel without rolling news?
If GB News is to succeed then it will by dint of its late-night discussion programmes and irreverent takedowns of wokery. Spectator chairman Neil is obviously convinced his crack team of producers, presenters and journalists are up to an audacious breakfast challenge. Shame the audience isn’t. Pass the marmalade, Kirsty.
Great British Breakfast ★