Channel 4 sparks outrage as it axes Northern-based talk show: 'Not everything has to be London-centric!'

Channel 4 sparks outrage as it axes Northern-based talk show: 'Not everything has to be London-centric!'

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CHANNEL 4
Alex Davies

By Alex Davies


Published: 20/10/2023

- 09:34

Updated: 20/10/2023

- 10:07

Channel 4 has cancelled its flagship daytime talk show, Steph's Packed Lunch

Channel 4 has irked a number of its viewers after announcing the decision to axe daytime talk show Steph's Packed Lunch.

Fronted by former BBC star Steph McGovern, Packed Lunch debuted in 2020 during the first Covid lockdown in an attempt to compete with the likes of ITV's Loose Women.


The decision to axe Steph's Packed Lunch comes just two years after Channel 4 opened up a new headquarters in Leeds in order to "live up to their brand and aspiration, which is to cover Britain as it is".

Approximately 200 of the channel’s 912 staff began to work out of the northern base when the HQ opened in 2021, with Channel 4 choosing Leeds despite competition from Birmingham and Manchester.

Packed Lunch's cancellation has therefore irked a number of viewers who branded the show a "breath of fresh air" given the fact it was filmed and broadcast from its Leeds studio.

Explaining the decision, Channel 4 said: "With audience habits changing quicker than ever, we have to make difficult decisions about which programmes to invest in to best drive our digital-first strategy and we have decided not to recommission Steph’s Packed Lunch when its existing production contract ends in December 2023.

Steph McGovern

Steph McGovern has hosted the show since 2020

PA

"We remain as committed as ever to our mission to help level up the TV industry outside London and to our 50 percent origination out-of-London target.

"We will be reinvesting the budget previously committed to Steph’s Packed Lunch into other nations and regions productions."

A spokesperson for Steph's Packed Lunch's production companies Expectation and Can Can said: "We're very disappointed that despite building a loyal audience we don't get to continue brightening up 12-2 on Channel 4.

"Leeds didn't have a live television community four years ago and it's been a privilege to build a team that boasts some of the brightest, sharpest TV producers in the country."

The blow to not only daytime TV but also broadcasting outside of the M25 comes just days after Birmingham-based daytime drama Doctors was axed by the Beeb as well.

Slamming the decision, one fan branded it a "kick in the teeth" to those working on the show in the north.

They fumed on X, formerly known as Twitter: "Legit fuming after hearing Steph's Packed Lunch is being axed. Not only a kick in the teeth for the whole northern operation for Channel 4, but the show is such a breath of fresh air compared to the forced 'we love each other' nonsense from ITV Daytime."

A second echoed: "#StephsPackedLunch Sorry to hear about the programme. I absolutely love it. Cost cutting what's all that about? I thought Channel 4 had made a commitment to original programming from the North? Just more repeats of Hell Kitchen USA and doing up houses rubbish...yuk!"

And a third pointed out the channel's U-turn: "Channel 4 in 2020: we’re building our new HQ in Leeds and launching a flagship new daytime show from the dock! three years later..."

Elsewhere, a fourth fumed: "Really sad news that #StephsPackedLunch is coming to an end. It was such a lovely show to work on and so refreshing to have a programme like that broadcast out of Leeds. Huge loss for @Channel4. Hope everyone affected finds other work soon."

Channel 4

Channel 4 has insisted it'll continue to produce content outside of London

GETTY

Another weighed in: "Best thing on daytime tv. And filmed Up North. Cant get rid of it !! #StephsPackedLunch."

And a sixth surmised: "I’m beyond and shocked that #StephsPackedLunch is being axed!! As someone who works from home, and watched everyday it provided a alt to the b****y loose woman! Also think #channel4 dedication to the north is dwindling with this decision! Not everything needs to be London-centric." (sic)

McGovern will continue to front the daytime show on weekdays on the network until the end of the year.

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