The BBC has announced that Morning Live will become a permanent fixture in BBC One's daytime schedule – going up against the heavyweights at ITV Daytime.
Additionally, from January 2022, the show will join BBC Breakfast in broadcasting live from Salford as part of the BBC's drive to make more programming outside of London.
Padraig Prendergast, Senior TV Producer on BBC One's Morning Live joined us to mark this move.
What is Morning Live?
"It has changed so much since it started and just continues to evolve as we learn"
As a relatively new show, Padraig explained its history, which only launched in October 2020 – during the pandemic. The show was commissioned three weeks before launch, giving the team only 21 days to plan everything from scratch. As a result, much of the first season felt like they were figuring things out as they went only, explained Prendergast. A perfect example of this is around guests – to begin with, planners on the team felt they would only have three or four guests each week (likely predetermined by the UK restrictions), which has significantly changed now. The show performed well with audiences during its eight-week pilot running between October and November, with the BBC commissioning series 2 for January. Padraig revealed that the Beeb were keen on Morning Live starting first thing in January, but the team outlined how they needed additional time to plan – resulting in a Jan 25th 2021 launch. Fast forward to today, the show has seen a continued success profiling the 'best of BBC' and will now be a year-round programme (taking breaks to allow for Rip Off Britain). The other significant change is that as of January 2022, Morning Live will follow in BBC Breakfast's footsteps by moving to Salford. This follows the BBC's strategy to have 70% of the content produced coming from outside of the capital.
Who is the Morning Live audience?
"We're not in the market to alienate any viewer"
Prendergast outlined that the Morning Live audience is incredibly diverse. Before the pandemic, daytime TV audiences were typically made up of students and mums. Now, with the advent of remote working, the audience is much broader. There is every chance that CEOs are watching at home between meetings – which perhaps depicts some of the significant changes taking place around us. As a result, the content they produce for the show has to be universal. Each topic should apply to everyone. Prendergast discussed some examples of this, such as – sleep, coronavirus and masks. They admit that this makes niche pitches or niche subjects more challenging, but Prendergast talked about how things can be adapted to take this into account. Firstly, think about how someone would talk about this subject in their WhatsApp groups with friends and family. We probably aren't talking about the ins and outs of the science of masks. But we might make a bit of a joke about how often we wash them. This was true for Morning Live, who ran a booming segment on how mucky the nation's masks were. This story could quite easily come from multiple brands that have a connection to cleanliness. The next section they consider is around the spokespeople when it comes to the audience. Prendergast talked about 'Bob in Burnley' and 'Susan in Stockport' as the typical audience – and highlights how the team tries to put themselves in their shoes. Will Bob and Susan know this person? Will Bob and Susan connect authentically with them? Will Bob and Susan believe the spokesperson's link to the story? As a result of the approach to the audience (e.g. as universal as possible), it means that almost all subjects are on the table as almost all areas can be covered in a unique way that takes into account the broad nature of the content.
How does Morning Live stand out and differ from other Daytime outlets?
"It's so inclusive here…The offering is so vast, and Morning Live demonstrates the best of BBC"
Many have commented on Morning Live's positioning within the Daytime schedule – something ITV has long since held the crown for. Many have compared viewership figures of Morning Live vs Lorraine and pored over the similarities and differences of the two shows. Prendergast believes the Morning Live output is significantly different to that of ITV, especially after working at This Morning for four years. The reason? In short, it is down to the vast array of content available at the BBC. He gave examples of experts available throughout the BBC, such as the BBC Four's The Sky at Night and See Hear on BBC Two – meaning much more topics are at Morning Live's disposal at short notice. As a result, Morning Live becomes a perfect representation of the "best of BBC". The other big difference – Morning Live looks at each segment and considers the takeaways Bob and Susan will get from it. Tangible and valuable pieces of advice help the story to connect with the audience at home. Prendergast says he can see the bare bones of this in the pitch, BUT the detail of it comes from the research conversations with PRs and the spokespeople.
Advice for PRs?
"The three little nuggets that you are going to take home"
Make sure you are considering the three takeaways as part of the pitch – it will show you are considering the thought process the show is looking at. Awareness moments (days and weeks) are essential to the show. They are looking for more experts than celebrities – they want people who live and breathe a subject. They are very unlikely to follow a similar story to BBC Breakfast – mainly because the viewer is loyal and will simply be repeating content – but they may be open to building a different angle on the subject a week or so later. The show is fact-based and so statistics are vital for them.