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April 25, 2022updated 03 Mar 2023 8:28am

TalkTV presenters versus the rest: UK primetime news race runners and riders

By Charlotte Tobitt

Rupert Murdoch’s News UK launches the new TalkTV channel with an evening primetime schedule on Freeview channel 237 on Monday 25 April.

It has a line-up of three big-name lead presenters: ex-Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn, former Good Morning Britain host and tabloid editor Piers Morgan, and US TV personality Sharon Osbourne.

Morgan has told Press Gazette he feels excited but realistic about his chances of success: “It’s going to take time to build this and to bed it down with people. And there’s a challenge to get it right so that it appeals to a global audience in the way I’d like it to. And it’s something brand new, so it will take time.”

Meanwhile Newton Dunn has insisted his programme The News Desk “will be a news programme unlike any other that currently exists in the UK” and pull in people who don’t currently watch early evening television because they “haven’t found a platform yet that particularly suits them”. He also said TalkTV is “not a right-wing network” despite the preconceptions of some critics.

The hosts will be joined by a roster of regular journalists and guests, including Kate McCann as political editor, Isabel Oakeshott as international editor, and panellists including ex-Sky News editor-at-large Adam Boulton, Sun deputy editor and former Downing Street director of communications James Slack, and ex-Evening Standard editor Emily Sheffield.

But who are they up against in the TV news and current affairs space?

[Read more: Everything you need to know about TalkTV ahead of launch]

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7pm: Tom Newton Dunn vs Nigel Farage

Tom Newton Dunn will host The News Desk, described as TalkTV’s “flagship news programme”, at 7pm every weeknight.

It will include “straight and balanced” news, interviews, experts from across News UK’s brands including showbiz journalists from The Sun and political journalists from The Times, and a discussion panel from “across the political spectrum”.

Aside from the lighter The One Show on BBC One, Newton Dunn will be up against two flagship news bulletins on ITV and Channel 4, one of GB News’ biggest presenters in Nigel Farage, well-known Sky journalist Dermot Murnaghan, and rising BBC star Ros Atkins.

ITV News recently doubled its evening bulletin to take in the 7pm primetime hour.

8pm: Piers Morgan enters the field

Piers Morgan has moved away from his previous breakfast position with ITV's Good Morning Britain to take the primetime evening slot (which will simultaneously air on the Fox Nation streaming service in the US and on Sky News Australia) with Piers Morgan Uncensored.

He is taking on a less crowded news and current affairs field than Newton Dunn, with GB News' Mark Steyn, who has worked as a fill-in host on Fox News, the only personality-led programme - although ITV and Channel 4 each broadcast more in-depth investigations once a week.

[Read more: Piers Morgan on tabloids, TalkTV, Murdoch and the ‘Markle debacle’]

9pm: Sharon Osbourne vs Beth Rigby and Sophy Ridge

Sharon Osbourne, who was fired from CBS talk show The Talk last year after defending Morgan in his row at GMB about Meghan Markle, will lead a panel discussion on "the most interesting stories of the day" with guests from different backgrounds and with varying views.

In the past few months, since the arrival of GB News, both BBC News and Sky News have decided to try something new (from them) with more panel discussions and in-depth interview style programmes at 9pm.

Christian Fraser, a BBC journalist for 22 years, launched Context, described as a "discussion-based news programme" with a panel of guests discussing the top stories of the day.

At Sky News, Wednesdays at 9pm now mean a new weekly political show led by Sophy Ridge with "some of the country’s leading decision-makers and a focus-group of viewers" giving their take on their week's news.

On Thursdays, political editor Beth Rigby now quizzes major names in a new in-depth interview show that launched last month.

Pictured: Dan Wootton, Tom Newton Dunn, Mary Nightingale, Christian Fraser, Piers Morgan, Sophy Ridge, Beth Rigby, Sharon Osbourne and Nigel Farage.

Picture credits: GB News, TalkTV, ITV News, BBC, Sky News

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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