A colourful and chaotic antidote to blanket breakfast news elsewhere, The Big Breakfast’s largely student audience couldn’t get enough of the daily dose of silly games, celebrity interviews and comedy sketches with puppets Zig and Zag.
Launched in 1992 on Channel 4, by 1993, the show was winning a large slice of the breakfast viewing audience – attracting two million viewers per show at its peak.
This summer, the programme rebooted, in a bid to recreate the show’s hugely successful early daytime recipe, with Mo Gilligan and AJ Odudu at the helm…but what made the original series, which finally signed off in March 2002, such a huge 90s hit?
The show took a chance on a lively carousel of new comics and old faces, with Chris Evans the show’s break-out early star, the ginger-haired, bespectacled host presenting alongside established broadcaster Gaby Roslin.
The cult breakfast show first aired in 1992, offering up a lively alternative to traditional news programmes at the time – a largely unknown Chris Evans paired with established broadcaster Gaby Roslin and the show proved a huge hit
The show was filmed at the Big Breakfast ‘House’, former lock-keepers cottages close to what is now Olympic Park in Stratford
The interview boudoir that began a love affair between Michael Hutchence and Paula Yates in 1994; Hutchence died in 1997 in a Sydney hotel, and Yates was dead three years later, in 2000
Comedy sketches – with puppets Zig and Zag, celebrity interviews and phone-ins saw the programme’s ratings soar – with two million viewers tuning in by 1993. (The puppets pictured with Caprice in 1998)
In the early years, Paula Yates provided a series of often chaotic interviews on a double bed at the The Big Breakfast ‘House’, former lock-keepers cottages close to what is now Olympic Park in Stratford.
Famously flirty, the then wife of Bob Geldof interviewed Michael Hutchence in 1994, and the pair went on to have a passionate affair and a child – Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily – before Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. Yates would die of a drug overdose three years later.
This week, fans of the show marvelled at how one-time Big Breakfast favourite Dani Behr, now 52, has maintained her glamourous looks.
Here, FEMAIL looks at how the careers of those who haver appeared on the show – including Zoe Ball, Paul O’Grady and Richard Bacon, have panned out…
The charismatic – but often close to the bone – ginger-haired, bespectacled presenter made his name presenting The Big Breakfast, and went on to hold coveted broadcasting jobs including the Radio 1 breakfast show. Right: Now a doting dad – and a millionaire! Evans, who’s married to his third wife Natasha Shishmanian. The couple share four children, with the presenter having a grown-up daughter, Jade, from a previous relationship
Chris Evans, now 56, presented the ’90s morning show from its inception in 1992 until 1994.
He remained a favoured presenter of Channel 4 and landed programmes such as TFI Friday, and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush.
The presenter then seemingly concentrated on radio, hosting Radio 1’s Breakfast Show, before joining Virgin Radio in 1997 to 2001.
In 2019, almost 20 years after he left Virgin Radio, Chris returned to host the station’s Breakfast Show.
The star pictured during an early episode of the show – he went on to make millions via his production company, which created 90s hit shows including TFI Friday and Don’t forget your toothbrush
Chris – who was married to actress Billie Piper from 2001 to 2007 before tying the knot with his third wife Natasha Shishmanian – was revealed as the new host of Top Gear in 2015, which he presented until 2017.
In 2022, Chris, known for his lewd behaviour in the Nineties, was slammed by Victoria Beckham for forcing her to weigh herself on live television shortly after giving birth.
The extraordinary incident happened on Evans’s Channel 4 show TFI Friday in 1999, two months after the then Spice Girls singer had given birth to Brooklyn, her first child with England captain David Beckham.
Evans told her: ‘A lot of girls want to know, because you look fantastic again, how did you get back to your shape after birth?’
After replying that she was actually really lazy and hadn’t been to the gym at all, the host wouldn’t let up, demanding: ‘Is your weight back to normal?’
Grown up…Evans went on to dominate Friday night TV in the 90s with shows such as Don’t forget your toothbrush and TFI Friday (Pictured with wife Natasha Shishmanian and two of the couple’s children)
When she said it was, he persisted: ‘Can I check, do you mind?’ before getting her to step on to some scales and remarking: ‘Eight stone’s not bad at all, is it?’
The fashion designer now says: ‘I went on a TV show with Chris Evans many years ago and I’d just had Brooklyn and lost a lot of weight after.
‘It happened to my mum after her pregnancies. It doesn’t mean you have an eating disorder. And he made me stand on the scales to be weighed. Can you imagine doing that nowadays?’
The former Posh Spice talked about the media obsession with her body shape to Vogue Australia: ‘I’ve had ‘Porky Posh’, I’ve had ‘Skeletal Posh’. After I had Brooklyn, there was a picture pointing to every single part of my body where I had to focus on losing the weight from.’
Evans’s behaviour around the time of the incident has been the subject of much interest.
He was questioned by police in 2016 after a woman alleged that he exposed himself to her on Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast. He denied indecent assault and claimed that he was the victim of a witch-hunt.
Perfect pairing? Roslin and co-host Chris Evans proved a hit with viewers…and while Evans departed for Radio 1, Roslin stayed from 1992 until 1996
Gaby Roslin was an original TBB host until 1996, before going on to enjoy a lucrative career in presenting.
She teamed up with Terry Wogan for Children in Need several times and the pair even fronted their own The Terry and Gaby show in 2003. She now hosts a popular self-titled podcast.
She has two daughters – Libbi-Jack from her first marriage to musician Colin Peel, and Amelie whom she shares with husband David Osmon.
In 2021, she revealed her children find her a ‘total embarrassment’ for faking an orgasm on daytime TV.
The TV and radio star, now 58, has continued to work in broadcasting, and currently hosts a Virgin Radio show
The TV presenter spoke with The Sun about her racy interview with Billy Crystal on The Big Breakfast, in which she recreated the scene where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm at a restaurant in When Harry Met Sally.
While Gaby admitted her children find it embarrassing that she did that on national television, she is firm in the belief that daytime TV should be ‘naughty, irreverent and risqué.’
Looking back at the interview, Gaby told the publication: ‘He came on the show and I had to fake that famous Meg Ryan orgasm scene with him. That clip is still on YouTube. To my kids, I’m a total embarrassment.
Emotional moment with Prince Harry: Roslin pictured with The Duke of Sussex after delivering a speech during the annual WellChild Awards at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London in 2018
‘But I’d like to see more naughty television. Naughty always sounds like I’m saying, “woohoo television”. I don’t mean naughty rude.
‘I mean naughty, irreverent and risqué. I’ve thought for a long time we need riskier TV. A lot of television these days is a bit safe.’
Speaking with The Mail On Sunday last year about The Big Breakfast, Gaby said: ‘Chris and I hit it off from the moment we first worked together.
‘He was incredible to work with – he’s thinking all the time. We never had a script, we just bounced off each other, making stuff up as we went along.’
As a girl, Gaby used to sit alongside the screen during broadcasts of Blue Peter, taking on the role of an imagined fourth presenter, getting her father – former BBC newsreader Clive Roslin – to pretend to film her.
Reflecting on finally getting to live her childhood dream she added: ‘I can still remember that moment when I heard in my earpiece “Ten seconds to live” the first time. It was everything I hoped it would be. I’ve loved every moment since.’
DENISE VAN OUTEN
Self-styled ladette Denise Van Outen became one of the show’s most popular presenters, after partnering with Johnny Vaughan…the pair famously fell out several years later when they tried to re-create the chemistry for radio
The show’s lighthearted tone saw many a celebrity – here, Sir Richard Branson, embroiled in its games
Van Outen, who was dating Indie rocker Andy Miller when she started on the show, went on to date 90s pop star Jamiroquai (Pictured with Johnny Vaughan)
Denise Van Outen first hosted the morning programme in 1997 alongside Johnny Vaughan, who were arguably the show’s most popular presenting duo, alongside original hosts Chris and Gaby.
However, Denise and Johnny then had a rocky relationship over the years – their friendship broke down over a contract dispute which triggered her decision to leave the show in January 1999.
The pair briefly reconnected in September the following year for Johnny’s final four months as host, and again in 2008 when Denise fronted the Capital FM breakfast show alongside her old co-presenter, but they struggled to recreate their original chemistry.
Yet they finally ended their 20-year feud during one of the lockdowns in the pandemic.
Following her The Big Breakfast gig, Denise, 48, went on to become a star of the stage and small screen, landing West End and Broadway roles, as well as appearances in soaps including EastEnders and Neighbours.
She’s also featured in numerous reality TV shows including Strictly, The Masked Singer, Dancing On Ice and Celebrity Gogglebox.
Daytime delight: Denise has recently joined Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4
Denise married musical theatre star Lee Mead in 2009 after the pair met when he was a contestant on BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do, which she appeared on as a judge. They share a daughter, Besty, but split in 2013.
She revealed in her book A Bit Of Me that she fibbed to get a job as a weather present on The Big Breakfast, pretending she had taken a metrological course.
She admitted: ‘When it came to going for jobs, I hadn’t lost my creative streak when it came to asserting my suitability for a particular role.’
She continued: ‘I wasn’t shy about that, sometimes I’d even add things to my CV that I hadn’t done. There were times back in the day when I thought, “Right! What’s been shot in the last couple of years that I might feasibly have been in?”‘
HOW PAULA YATES AND MICHAEL HUTCHENCE’S TRAGIC LOVE AFFAIR STARTED ON THE BIG BREAKFAST BED
A former presenter on The Tube with Jools Holland, Paula Yates was most famous for being married to Sir Bob Geldof when she began her stint on the Big Breakfast bed interviewing famous faces.
The peroxide blonde provided a series of often chaotic interviews in a boudoir setting at the former lock-keepers cottages, close to what is now Olympic Park in Stratford.
INXS star Michael Hutchence, right, fell for then married Paula Yates after she interviewed him on The Big Breakfast in 1994 – they went on to have a daughter, Tiger-Lily, before his death in 1997. She died of a heroin overdose in 2000.
Viewers remarked on the chemistry between Hutchence and Yates, who was still married to Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof at the time
TV presenter Paula first began dating Boomtown Rats rocker Bob in 1976. They married in 1986, before Paula left Bob in 1995
When she interviewed INXS star Michael Hutchence, the chemistry was palpable and the pair went on to have an affair and a child – Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.
The romance ended in tragedy with Hutchence found dead in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. Yates would die of a drug overdose three years later when she was 41, with their daughter Tiger-Lily finding her body.
She went on to say: ‘I remember going up for a part in a film once, and adding a Roman Polanski film to my CV, one that I was never in.
‘Of course, with Google and the internet, you can’t get away with that sort of thing anymore, but back then I was pretty comfortable bolstering my credentials where necessary.’
Denise then explained how she lied again when it came to her breakthrough role on The Big Breakfast.
She revealed: ‘What did I know about reading a weather report? Didn’t you have to have the right sort of meteorological knowledge for that?
‘What I did know was that this was a fantastic opportunity, Channel 4 was doing a big relaunch of the show, and that’s where I came in.
‘As per, I went all out, fibbing about having taken a meteorological course and assuring them that I’d be able to write my own weather report, no one could ever accuse me of not being a trier!’
However, the Channel 4 bosses weren’t fooled, but decide to hire her because of her bold attitude.
Denise added: ‘They told me they knew full well I was making it all up, but if I could sit there brazenly delivering that level of bulls***, I was definitely the girl for the job.’
Co-host to Neighbours star Mark Little, Zoe Ball proved her presenting mettle in the role, and moved on to the more mainstream Live and Kicking after a year
Zoe Ball replaced Gaby when she left The Big Breakfast – presenting the programme alongside Mark Little for a year before moving to the BBC for Live & Kicking with Jamie Theakston.
In 2005, the presenter came third in Strictly Come Dancing before hosting the spin-off show Strictly: It Takes Two. She joined Radio 2’s Breakfast Show in January 2019.
In 2022, it was revealed Zoe remains the BBC’s second highest paid talent, with a salary of £980,000 to £984,999, but figures show her salary falling for a second consecutive year.
Her salary has now slipped to below £1 million and reflects approximately 210 editions of The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Radio 2.
A stellar career! Zoe Ball’s career has continued to soar, and she currently presents Radio 2’s flagship show to the nation, pictured chatting to Adele in December
In 2020, it was revealed Zoe had reportedly asked the BBC to pay her less because she felt ‘uncomfortable’ with a £1million pay rise.
The Radio Two Breakfast Show host saw her salary rise to £1.36million-a-year in 2019 – the year she took over the hot seat from Chris Evans.
She became the BBC’s top earner when Match of the Day host Gary Lineker agreed to take a 23 per cent pay cut when he signed a new five year deal with the broadcaster.
A BBC source told the Sun: ‘Zoe was given a very big pay rise when she took on the job because the gender pay row at the BBC was raging and she was replacing a man on a big wage in a high-profile job.
‘She has always been thankful for the wage she earns, and she does work very hard, getting up at 4am daily and putting in long hours.
‘But in the current climate, and during a pandemic, she has felt increasingly uncomfortable about how much she earns so has requested that it is reduced.’
A popular successor to Chris Evans: Johnny Vaughan kept the show in the spotlight, pairing with Denise Van Outen and Liza Tarbuck
The presenting duo with the show’s ‘Family of the week’, a popular section that saw different families report on their days
Vaughan has focused on radio in recent years, and is currently a DJ for Radio X, having previously presented the breakfast show at London’s Capital FM. Right: The star pictured celebrating his 56th birthday
Johnny Vaughan appeared along with Denise Van Outen as co-hosts between 1997 and 1998, and 2000 and 2001.
The 56-year-old joined the BBC after leaving the morning programme for his own late-night talk show before starring in and writing his sitcom ‘Orrible.
He is now a DJ for Radio X, having previously presented the breakfast show at London’s Capital FM.
In 2020, Johnny returned to the Big Breakfast House for the first time in 19 years as he reminisced about the many mischievous antics on the show, as well as the time David Bowie was the soundman for the day.
The TV and radio host revisited Lock Keepers Cottages in East London, where he reflected on his favourite memories from the much-loved show.
As Johnny toured the house where the show was filmed, with Radio X and ITN for ITV London News, he admitted: ‘David Bowie being our soundman is one of my favourite memories here.’
Explaining how the musical icon became part of the crew, he said: ‘David Bowie said that he just wanted to come on the show, because he used to get the show sent out to him when he lived in America because he really liked it.
‘And we heard that he wanted to come on our Christmas show, not particularly to be interviewed, but just because he wanted to be part of the crew because they look like they have so much fun.
‘And so during the Christmas show I was sitting there and suddenly I see – holding a sound boom over the crew – was David Bowie, and he just wanted to be our sound man for the day and join in and be shouted at like everyone else, it was just absolutely mad!’
Getting emotional at the end of the tour, the radio host admitted to having ‘great memories’ of a place where perhaps the cast and crew ‘weren’t meant to have that much fun.’
He said: ‘So many great memories, but it’s kind of hard to connect it with the house that’s here now because it’s just so beautiful and so enclosed. When I was here, you really had the sense of just canal and two cottages, but it’s a bit like…
‘Being here today reminds me a bit like when I drove past a school I used to go to and the woodwork and metal work-shops have now been turned into these quite luxurious properties.
‘They’d been converted, and I get the same sense that in both this building and that building, places where perhaps we weren’t meant to have that much fun, but we really did. So, quite an emotional visit, in its way.’
‘LILY SAVAGE’ AKA PAUL O’GRADY
A fitting successor to Paula Yates, Lily Savage – a six foot drag character created by Paul O’Grady became an instant hit
Swapping drag for rescue dogs: A recent photo of Paul O’Grady, now 68, during a visit to Battersea Dogs Home
Now more well known for his work with rescue dogs and entertaining Radio 2 audiences on a Sunday evening, Paul O’Grady once had a very different alter ego.
Drag heroine Lily Savage, a chain-smoking character with a loose love life took over from Paula Yates interviewing celebrities on the house’s bed – and proved a huge hit.
Vanessa Feltz stepped in when O’Grady left the show in 1996 and Lily was long gone by 2004. The broadcasting star, now 67, has said there’s little chance of lively Lily ever returning to a stage – last seen in panto in 2010.
He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘There’s not enough cash on earth to get me dragged up. God no. It’s always been, “Why don’t you be Lily Savage again?” Well, because one, I’m too old. And two, I couldn’t be bothered.
‘At the time I thoroughly enjoyed it but I’ve moved on. Even in panto I wouldn’t fancy it.’
From Ramsay Street to The Big Breakfast House, comedian Mark Little hosted the show for two years from 1994 to 1996. pictured alongside Zoe Ball
Australian actor Mark, now 62, is known to most for his performance in Neighbours as Joe Mangel from 1988 to 1991 – however, from 1994 to 1996 he presented The Big Breakfast show with Gaby and then Zoe.
But after shying from the spotlight in recent years, veteran actor Mark has settled into life in a remote farmhouse in Wales.
Almost unrecognisable under a bushy grey beard, Mike told his fans about his move to his ‘new HQ’ in September 2020 via Instagram.
It’s believed his home is somewhere south of Lake Vyrnwy in Powys – 207 miles from his former base in London.
The former Neighbours star turned comic was most recently seen in a cameo appearance on the farewell show for the Channel 5 soap
‘A proud Welshman I am,’ he told one fan, as he thanked others for welcoming him and his wife Cathryn Farr to Wales.
‘We are now Anarchists Of The Forest,’ Mark wrote in another post, before adding he was happily tending to the property’s maintenance.
‘Our new HQ. Getting sorted… dry stone walling in the rain, hedge layer comes Wednesday,’ he said.
Mark previously stunned fans when he re-emerged as a celebrity contestant on 2018’s Dancing On Ice.
Before his appearance on the reality TV contest, he hadn’t acted in a television series since 2010 or been billed in a film since 2015. The Australian actor relocated to the UK in 1992.
Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies hosted the morning programme in 1996.
However, more recently her campaign to stop transgender athletes competing in women’s sports led to her being shunned by charities and facing the threat of financial ruin, she revealed in July.
In an interview with You magazine, the 59-year-old swimmer says she suffered a huge drop in income after anxious employers dropped her because of her stance on the ‘toxic’ transgender debate.
‘There’s been so much hate and bullying,’ she says. ‘It’s been very hard. Charities I’ve worked with for 30 years have dropped me, agents I’ve worked with for 30 or 40 years don’t use me any more, because the trans activists can be so vicious and malicious – they go after your work, after your brand, they attack everything.’
She describes how she was only able to stay afloat financially because of an inheritance from her mother, who died five years ago.
‘The money’s nearly gone now. But I can’t back down,’ she says. ‘If you have the courage of your convictions you have to back those up with evidence and science and then you just have to hold your ground.’
She tells of her pride and relief at the decision last month by the world swimming body (FINA) to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races.
The debate was prompted in part by the recent success of the American transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas.
Davies hits out at the ‘very small minority of very vocal trans activists who have made my life hell’ and stresses her position is not anti-trans but rather about fairness for biological women.
‘I have friends with trans children, I have made friends with lots of transgender people during this process because the majority totally understand. A lot just want to live their lives and think this argument is making things more difficult for them.’
Kelly Brook arrived on the Big Breakfast set in 1999 but her lack of presenting experience saw her criticised by viewers – after the then model made some howlers on set
Brook, now 42, has since honed her presenting skills and become an established radio presenter, currently appearing on Heart FM
Kelly Brook spent six months presenting Channel 4’s live morning show back in 1999.
She was a 19-year old unknown when she was recruited to fill Denise Van Outen’s shoes on The Big Breakfast.
But six-months after being unveiled as Van Outen’s replacement in January 1999 she left the show, having failed to replicate her predecessor’s chemistry with the lively, opinionated Vaughan.
The abrupt departure led to a host of stand-in presenters taking her place, with Liza Tarbuck, Lisa Rogers, Amanda Byram and the returning Van Outen all filling in alongside Vaughan before the show went off-air in 2002.
Speaking in February 2019, Kelly admitted that her media career has been given a second chance by Capital Radio – on which she now features – following various forays into acting, modelling and presenting.
‘It’s been really lovely because I feel like I have been given another lifeline,’ she told Hello!
‘You think: “Oh, that’s it, maybe I had my go and it’s someone else’s turn.” When an opportunity like this comes along, all of a sudden you’ve got another shot.’
Egg-cellent times: Dani pictured with the late Keith Chegwin (left) and Robbie Williams (centre) on The Big Breakfast in 1995
90s TV star and lads’ mags favourite Dani Behr, 52, stunned viewers as she showed off her Hollywood makeover on Lorraine this week
Dani Behr – who was a stand-in reporter on The Big Breakfast in the early ’90s – shocked ITV viewers with an appearance on Lorraine on Tuesday morning.
The lads’ mags favourite wowed with her glam appearance as she filled fans in on the latest Hollywood gossip, broadcasting live from Los Angeles, where she now lives.
Dani has been living in Tinseltown for the past 20 years, raising her two children Coco, 17, and Zane, 15, in the city and swapping her TV career for a real estate license, selling million dollar listings to the rich and famous.
Dani, 52, relocated to LA in the noughties, at first spending time jetting back and forth between the UK and US while she juggled TV work in both countries.
After stints living in Costa Rica and Australia, it was after her 2014 divorce from husband Carl Harwin, that she decided to settle in LA permanently with her two young children to allow her and her ex to co-parent from the same city.
Dani explained that debt from her divorce and her TV work drying up led her to forge a new career in real estate; she had experience in the industry, with her father working in it and her mother as an interior designer.
A step back in time: Dani pictured in 1997 during a photoshoot wearing an all-silver ensemble
The star actually bought her first property at just 16 and continued her investments throughout her ’90s TV years.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time in 2020, she told Kate Thornton that she made the switch full time to real estate when her on screen work dried up around the time of her divorce.
‘TV here [in America] had completely changed. There wasn’t really a TV market for me anymore,’ she revealed. ‘They don’t have careers as presenters out here, like back home. You’re either a news journalist or a sportscaster or a late night comedian, those were the hosts of all the shows here and I didn’t fit into any of those categories.
She continued: ‘What else do I know how to do? I didn’t go to college. So, I was like, “I know real estate” so I thought, “OK, I’ll just get my license” so I studied. You have to study and do all these exams and get your license.
Dani has proved to be a huge success in her second career with her past sales listed on her website including a $7,900,000 five bed home in LA.
Alongside real estate Dani runs her own TV production company with a friend, where she’s revealed she has several real estate shows in development.
She’s also a regular face on reality realtor show Million Dollar Listing LA and spent two years presenting her own podcast The Behr Essentials about life in LA, dipping her toe back into the media world.
While her marriage to restaurateur Carl Harwin ended in divorce, Dani, who famously dated Ryan Giggs from 1994 to 1995, is now happily loved up with a new beau.
The unnamed love interest has featured on her Instagram for the last two years, with Dani documenting their love of travel on her Instagram account.
The glory days of The Big Breakfast were arguably already over by the time Richard Bacon took over the main presenting role in 1999. After his Blue Peter sacking – after he was caught taking cocaine, the job offered a chance to reinvent his presenting career, and Bacon held the job for three years until 2002.
The presenter has continued to work in mainstream television, occasionally taking the helm on Good Morning Britain as a stand-in presenter. In 2018, the star was struck down severely with Covid.
He discussed his near-death experience to The Times Magazine, saying: ‘In 2018, I can go into a hospital, aged 42, be that fit, and have all that modern equipment around me and still nearly die? F*****g hell. I came that close. The first two nights, it was incredibly close.’
And the star called waking up from a medically induced coma ‘the worst day of my life’ and said he was thrashing about ‘like a wild animal’
A close friend of Johnny Vaughan, Liza made a natural co-presenter on the show, with many enjoying the pairing more than the Johnny Denise duo.
The daughter of comedy legend Jimmy Tarbuck, who dabbled in acting via the sitcom Watching and Linda Green, is now to be heard on Saturday evenings on Radio 2. Now 57, the star has remained tight-lipped about her personal life, and has never married.
Glamorous Irish star Amanda, now 49, walked into the Big Brother House in January 2001, having made a name for herself on Ireland’s biggest Breakfast show – and she was still in place when the show went off air a year later.
Heading to the US, Amanda has enjoyed a successful presenting career on the other side of the pond, and returned to the UK for a stint on the Strictly Come Dancing tour. She is now married to digital producer Julian Okines, and the couple have a son, Phoenix Blaze Byram Okines, born in 2021.