Piers Morgan Uncensored attracts more viewers without Piers Morgan

You’d think that if a TV show is named after its presenter, that presenter would be its greatest asset, the reason why viewers tune in. Not, it seems, for TalkTV’s flagship evening showcase of debate and un-woke opinions.

Piers Morgan

This week saw the one-hour show, which ahead of its launch was described by News UK EVP, president of broadcasting, Scott Taunton, as “must-see TV” and a “fearless forum for lively and intelligent debate, fronted by one of the most outspoken and popular figures in international broadcasting,” witness a sudden jump in viewing figures, without its main presenter.

While Morgan averages 14,000 – 19,000 viewers for his show, in his absence as he was holiday, viewing figures were boosted to 26,000 – a significant leap.

Nadine Dorries had stepped in as Morgan’s replacement. And the former culture secretary who has been left without a role in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, spectacularly flunked her broadcasting debut. The Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire struggled with the autocue when guiding viewers through the programme’s running order. She also stumbled on her words when attempting to explain the cabinet reshuffle, and eventually appeared to give up by mumbling on air: “Sorry, I completely messed that up.”

‘Car crash TV’

Described as “incredible car crash TV”, the performance was roundly mocked on social media. Actor James Anderson said he had “stumbled” across Dorries presenting the show and:  “In the two minutes before I switched off, she got her guest’s name wrong then claimed the license fee was £36billion (it’s 3.8 – and she’s a former culture sec).”

Despite the blunders, Dorries’ managed to pull in more viewers than the supposed star of the show manages to do, which speaks volumes.

The TalkTV channel is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Through his company News UK, Murdoch owns hundreds of news publishing outlets around the world, including the Times and the Sun in the UK, and the New York Post and Fox News in the US. He had previously owned Sky in the UK but sold it in 2018.

TalkTV launched on April 25, 2022. The channel’s flagship Piers Morgan Uncensored show got off to a shaky start. Following its debut programme in which Morgan interviewed Donald Trump, it witnessed a drop in viewing numbers. While the premiere averaged 317,000 viewers, part two of the Trump interview pulled in around 200,000 viewers, with nearly a third of the debut’s viewers not bothering to return. By day four, viewership had dropped in half with approximately 123,000 viewers.

On an evening in May, Piers Morgan Uncensored, TalkTV’s intended centrepiece, was said to have attracted 24,000 people, and then went on to lose half of them, leaving the show with an estimated audience of 10,000.

Ratings nosedived so badly for Murdoch’s channel that, on occasions, the official broadcasting rating agency had not registered a single viewer.

‘Woke whiney wastrels’

Taking offense at reports about the fall in popularity of his show in May, Piers Morgan hit out at ‘woke whiny wastrels’. In a rant on Twitter, the broadcaster said: “Being lectured by the @guardian about popularity is like being called talentless by Kim Kardashian. Worry about your own crumbling sales, dwindling finances and increasing irrelevance, you ludicrous bunch of kale-munching, sandal-clad, woke whiny wastrels.”

Having viewing figures for his own show surpassed when the former culture secretary took over as presenter, who managed to car crash her debut appearance with splutters and mishaps, says a lot about Piers Morgan and the general direction of his show.

As journalist Ryan Coogan notes: “Maybe TalkTV should change the name of the show to ‘Literally Anybody With a Pulse Uncensored’, because it’s starting to look like Morgan isn’t the key ingredient. Quite the opposite in fact.” 

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Image: YouTube screen grab

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