1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 6 (UK)
Noel Edmonds hosted this Saturday evening series featuring music, comedy, viewer challenges and regular segments including the ‘Golden Egg Awards’, breathtaking stunts performed by viewers on ‘Give It A Whirl’ and hidden camera tricks played by ‘The Hit Squad’.
Despite Edmonds’ popularity, the first series failed to catch on. Edmonds had been given a girl Friday in the form of Scottish comedienne Leni Harper, but the chemistry was noticeably absent.
Also involved was John Peel, who took care of outside broadcasts, looking quite clearly as though he wished he were somewhere (anywhere) else.
By the 1984 run, the show had found the formula that would last until its demise. Peel was replaced by fellow Radio 1 presenter Mike Smith – who was much more in tune with the host and tone of the show.
Stunts and banter apart, the show’s main selling point was the panoply of A-list guests it attracted, just as Dee Time had twenty years earlier. When Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson wanted to launch a new single in October 1983, McCartney put in a personal appearance with wife Linda on the Late Late Breakfast Show. The following week, Billy Joel was in town with product to shift, so he dropped in too.
The show would doubtless have continued if not for the tragic accident involving ‘Whirly Wheeler’ Michael Lush during rehearsals.
On Thursday 13 November 1986, while preparing a trick in which he was to escape, Houdini-style, from a box suspended 120 feet above the ground, the 25-year-old Southampton builder fell to his death. The elasticated rope intended to break his fall had become detached, and a faulty clip was to blame.
That Saturday, the BBC made the following announcement following a broadcast of Doctor Who:
“This is BBC 1. Because of the tragic accident of Michael Lush whilst preparing for tonight’s edition of The Late Late Breakfast Show, the BBC has decided to cancel this and further editions of the program.”
The programme was then replaced by the film One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1976) and never returned.
Edmonds’s career briefly hit the rocks, although it wasn’t long before he was back with a similar show. However, the catastrophe was felt higher up the corporate food chain, as the BBC Director-General Alasdair Milne was sacked by the Board of Governors.