Feature

Media Lifeline: TV chatshows

Commercial TV uses the chatshow as a daytime ratings weapon with big-name presenters.

2001: The chatshow - for decades the mainstay of daytime schedules - moves centre stage in the commercial ratings war when Channel 4 poaches Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, co-hosts of This Morning, from ITV. The C4 show, Richard and Judy, is scheduled into late afternoon, pre-peaktime and is an instant hit.

April 2004: A series of presenters (Colleen Nolan, Twiggy, John Leslie, Fern Britton) fail to revive the flagging fortunes of This Morning in the post-Richard and Judy era. But ITV serves notice of its long-term ambitions on the talkshow format when it signs the daddy of all chatshow hosts, Michael Parkinson. Having defected from the BBC following what he perceived to be his marginalisation in the schedules, he hosts an evening show on ITV.

September 2004: ITV ups the ante by commissioning Paul O'Grady (pictured) - previously more famous for his Lily Savage stand-up comedy character - to host a daily afternoon talk show. He's soon stealing back share from Channel 4 in the teatime slot.

January 2006: In a shock move, O'Grady takes his show, lock stock and barrel to Channel 4, following contractual problems at ITV. His programme slots in alongside the Richard and Judy show, enabling Channel 4 to dominate its commercial rivals in the teatime schedules - though the BBC, with The Weakest Link and Neighbours, continues to perform strongly.

August 2006: ITV strikes back courtesy of Sharon Osbourne (pictured), whose 5pm chatshow goes head to head with Richard and Judy, initially capturing a slightly higher audience - 1.9 million viewers compared with 1.6 million. However, her lead soon slips away.

Fast forward...

September 2007: Now five enters the fray. Having noted the success of Charlotte Church's Friday night chatshow on Channel 4, it signs the Welsh singer up to launch a daily teatime chatshow - co-hosted by none other than Michael Parkinson. Channel 4 hits back by making Richard and Judy present their show while incarcerated as contestants within the Big Brother house.