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The Big Breakfast is Back! Yellow Boat Music Return to Jingle Writing for One-off Special

Music & Sound
London, UK
Lemonade Reps sit down with Yellow Boat Music's Paul Cartledge to chat about The Big Breakfast special

For one episode only (Sad Face) the Big Breakfast is back... hosted by AJ Odudu and Mo Gilligan for Black To Front Day - to champion Black voices and stories, and the incredible Black talent that make, shape and star in British TV.

Here Lemonade Reps catch up with Yellow Boat Music who were involved in putting the music together and writing the jingles for the decade-long original run… and were approached to do the music for this special one off show. PC (Paul Cartledge) even ended up being in the Big Breakfast original band (at 3am in the morning!...) It’s one of our favourite things about him. 

Q> PC, tell us the story of how you got involved in The Big Breakfast back in the 90s.. 

I was asked to help David Arnold and Paul Hart put together a pitch for a new breakfast time TV show for Channel 4. One of the guys behind the company pitching, Planet 24, was Sir Bob Geldof. I loved The Boomtown Rats and what he’d done with Live Aid so I encouraged David and Paul to take it on, and cut short a holiday so we could put our demos together. All of the rumours we heard suggested a large media company were the front runners, but in the end Planet 24 with The Big Breakfast won the job, using our music which went on to run for the duration of the show. It was really exciting. 

Q> Phil, you were also involved on this project - what is your zaniest memory of working on it? 

There are too many to mention! The inevitable phone call at 6pm on a Friday asking us to do something for Mondays show. Getting up at 5am to go and play the Piano for Jonny and Denise’s version of ‘Especially for you’ But probably the best was a jingle I wrote called ’Star Turn’ as it was my first broadcasted work! 

Q> The Big Breakfast coexisted with the youth culture explosion of the Britpop scene did this influence any of the creative decisions when producing the music/jingles for the show? 

We had so much fun parodying and sending up many genres, from Baroque to Detroit House, everything was fair game to have a bit of fun poked at it. We were definitely not trying to follow any one sensibility. We were making funny, colourful noisy jingles to wake people up in the morning and blow away their cobwebs. As to Britpop influence we were probably more Toast Life than Park Life! 

Q> How much creative freedom were you allowed when creating the jingles? 

We were allowed a lot of compositional freedom with most things - as long as each piece worked for it’s objective within the shows programming. There were many jingles with lyrics, ‘Get Your Knobbly Nuts Out’ etc, which the writers on the show would generally lead on. The musical style for oranges getting chopped up was definitely in our remit. 

Q> Did you have any musical influences from other television programs? 

Overall the objective with the branding for the show was to sound radically different from the standard TV of the time. 

Q> What skills did you learn while working on The Big Breakfast and how did you transfer them into later projects? 

Working under pressure to a very tight deadline was a regular occurrence and  certainly honed our ability to cope. We learned a lot about working with many people from different specialties and perspectives. 

Q> Did you try to capture the zeitgeist of the times with the music or do you think looking back it captured the spirit of the show? 

We didn’t over intellectualise about this at the time. There wasn’t time! We tried to do what worked best in the moment. Andy Margetson, who was the director we worked with most at the beginning told me he hadn’t realised how big what we’d done was until he went to a football match and the Millwall end chanted ‘Egg on your face, egg on your face’ which was a jingle from The Big Breakfast. Amazing! 

Q> Comparing your experience working on The Big Breakfast in the 90's, to now, what distinct changes to the music scene/musical influences do you think have taken place? 

We started in the analogue era. The original titles were recorded on multitrack tape. By the end of the run we were recording on hard drives. The scene has changed considerably. This could be a whole paper in itself. We’ve seen the collapse of record sales and the rise of streaming. Do people still like a good tune & having a laugh? I think they do. 

Q> Can you tell us what you've been doing in preparation for the BLM edition of the show? 

No - you’ll have to watch it. I can say it’s been a lot of fun though! 

Q> Is there a difference in structure or composition between songs for advertising (jingles) and traditional/classic song writing? 

PC: - The boundaries have blurred. The common ground is hooks. The micro elements that make the audience want to listen. That makes them want to hear more. 

Phil: - For the Big Breakfast, their identity was about not taking themselves too seriously. So their jingles reflected that. However, that same approach wouldn’t work for brands trying to position themselves in different markets. It’s about understanding who you are writing for, and delivering something that musically represents them. 

Q> What is your favourite jingle of all time that you've written and why? 

On The Big Breakfast it was Cock-a-doodle do it. Mainly because it caught on and we got to see many luminaries dressed in chicken suits dancing to it. It also got made into a record and charted!! I’m sure that even Sting and Mick Fleetwood were roped into it! 

Q> The Big Breakfast show ran for 10 years, did your writing/approach to the show tunes adapt or change in any way during the years?

We developed all the time. The recording methodology changed radically. I like to think our technical competence improved. 

Q> Lastly, do you think they should bring back The Big Breakfast full time and why? 

PC:- Yes. Morning TV could do with having some serious fun poking it in the eye again . Celebs should be dressed in chicken suits. Silliness , fun and double scrambled eggs mixed with the morning news are definitely worth having! 

Phil: - Yes! In a world where anxiety levels are rising, maybe something lighter to watch in the morning may just help 

* The Big Breakfast Black To Front Episode will air at 8am on Friday 10th on Channel 4* The Gang At Lemonade think… 

Louis Hudson ‘They need to bring back a show like this, I liked Mark Lamarr going around the country in search of the countries biggest traffic jam. Also bring back Top Of The Pops while you’re at it!’’ 

Athene Parker - ‘On the Bed with Paula! OMG the iconic Interview with INXS front Man Michael Hutchence. It really was a moment in time and actually I was looking at some old shows on You Tube. The amazing Denise Van Outen and Johnny Vaughan…. It was SO refreshing. We DEFINITELY need something to bring that irreverent humour into our lives. We need to not have to take EVERYTHING so seriously. Yes please… bring back the Big Breakfast full time! Except maybe without everyone’s boobs out! lol’ 

Corin West: ‘I wasn't a big fan of BB back in the day, but I'm intrigued and pleased to see there is a less un-pc angle with the comeback, and I shall definitely be watching and applauding all the black talent that they will be celebrating. It's so great to see how the shift in the industry as a whole is being reflected in TV programming. 

Work from Yellow Boat Music