MEDIA PROFILE: He’s on another Planet with you. Charlie Parsons, managing director Planet 24

Something is happening over at The Big Breakfast. After years in the post-Evans doldrums, the ratings are creeping back up again. Old viewers are tuning back in and new viewers are picking up on the show.

Something is happening over at The Big Breakfast. After years in

the post-Evans doldrums, the ratings are creeping back up again. Old

viewers are tuning back in and new viewers are picking up on the

show.



There’s a minor re-launch on its way to cement this aboutturn in the

show’s fortunes, which may be down to presenters Johnny Vaughan and

Denise van Outen, or down to the trailers Channel 4 are running, or

simply down to the programmes’ production company Planet 24. In many

ways, Planet 24 is its managing director Charlie Parsons. He started out

as a journalist - indeed he wrote and distributed his own village

newspaper in Ivy Hatch when he was 11 years old - and moved into

television at LWT under the auspices of Greg Dyke and the Six O’Clock

Show. Later, he started working on Network Seven which changed the way

television, and particularly youth television, was made. Most youth TV

today still refers to it constantly in the way it is produced.



After Network Seven, he set up his own company, 24 Hour Productions,

which later merged with Bob Geldof’s Planet to make Planet 24. The

company has now set up a US office where Parsons is based and has worked

with Disney to produce a nightly talk show for urban audiences called

the Keenan Ivory Wayans Show. But success is largely due to the

commission for The Big Breakfast, which the company won in 1992. ’When

we won The Big Breakfast it gave us the stability and the structure to

become the company we are,’ Parsons explains. ’It gave us a ready flow

of cash and the ability to plan.’



Planet 24’s career has been so entwined with The Big Breakfast that its

ratings slump - 300,000 viewers in the summer of 1997 compared to an

Evans high of 1.1 million - could have been extremely bad news for the

company. There was talk of Channel 4 dropping the programme, which

Parsons dismisses as the bitching of rivals.



Despite jetting between Planet 24’s Docklands offices and Los Angeles

as the company’s US expansion programme gets under way, Parsons has been

overseeing the new look breakfast show. Changes still to come include a

Monday cookery slot of meals that both you and your pet can eat; Tuesday

sees a handyman fixing up a room in the Breakfast house for pounds

50;Wednesday features Vanessa Feltz and Friday is van Outen’s fashion

slot ’High Street Chick’. But Big Breakfast development is just a part

of Parsons’ plans.



’We’ve just set up a new joint venture company in Liverpool called

Planet Wild,’ he says. ’Thanks to the power of The Big Breakfast we’ve

been able to set all this up without borrowing any money. We get offers

from the City to buy us all the time. Nothing is out of the question,

but we want to enter territories we haven’t tried yet before we think

about that.’



HIGHLIGHTS



1987: Producer and reporter, Network Seven



1988: Series editor, Network Seven



1989: Series editor, Club X



1990: Managing director, 24 Hour Productions



1992: Managing director, Planet 24.



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