A favourite of housewives and hungover students, The Wright Stuff is a staple of morning TV. But yesterday, the main man Matthew Wright, announced he’s to quit.
Unquestionably the show, which has delighted our screens for nigh on 18 years, was a big part of my career, having worked as the on-screen interactive assistant producer between 2007 – 2013 (although on the call sheet, I was always referred to as the ‘mic boy’).
It’s the place where I grew from a nervous 24-year-old TV dabbler to a confident live TV native with a thick skin. I suppose that’s what you get when ordered to do such stunts like pole dancing, dressing up as Freddie Mercury in drag… and who could forget the time I had to vox pop in Speedos? P’ha! Follow that link with caution.
But it was a great training ground for a young journalist like me to be on a show that would, on occasion, generate its own news.
So news that Matthew is leaving comes as a surprise… but in some ways, an expected one. He always told me he would stop doing the show when it lost its spark or when it was time to naturally move on.
Yes, there’s wild speculation in the press of tensions with the new production team at ITN – and it’s no secret ‘creative differences’ with producers and execs in the past would occasionally disrupt the harmony with production notes sometimes flung in fits of rage towards tearful researchers.
But today, he simply said on the show he’s had enough of the 3am starts and early bed times. Who can blame him? Although his working day usually finishes at noon, his wife (the adorable Amelia) is a busy Sony Music Executive and probably finishes work by the time he’s already in bed. What a life.
So what next? Mathew hasn’t a job to go to. But I have a feeling he’ll be alright.
The former tabloid hack has had newspaper columns and hosted his own show on Radio 2. He told me a few times he would consider passing on his pearls of wisdom to a new generation of journalists and producers.
On occasion, we’d have student groups in the audience and I would arrange an informal Q&A with them and Matthew after the broadcast. Some plucky students asked about his pay (that answer always made me weep as someone who earned just below the national average back then) to his favourite and worst guests (I have my own list). But often in the discussion, he would say: “You know what? I’ve a wealth of experience on TV, newspapers and radio. I’ve got a lot to pass on and would love to teach the next generation”. We’ll see.
The reality is he’ll probably be offered a deal with Talk Radio or LBC with the occasional appearance on Question Time… not before writing a book on fly fishing or classic motorbike restoration!
But the real question is what will happen to the show that carries his name? Aside from calling in the services of ex footballer Ian Wright (who once told me ‘two Wrights make a wrong’ when I suggested he should come on the show – I don’t think they get along) and other namesake ‘celebs’ (Mark Wright of TOWIE – no, just NO), it’s likely to be re-branded and hosted with new talent.
In any case, the writing is on the wall for The Wright Stuff as we know it. In an age of short-run series and multi-platform non-linear shows on demand, it’s done incredibly well for a show that Matthew thought wouldn’t see a second series.
In a message he sent me today, he said: “[I’m] hugely relieved that I’ve finally done it and now I’m desperate to go,” adding “you’ve shown how one can fly when cut free. I hope i can do the same xx“. Awwwwwww chucks!
So thanks Matthew and thanks The Wright Stuff for the incredible memories and experience. I look forward to seeing what will appear in its place and seeing where the path will lead for old Wrighty. There are hundreds of TV people like me who owe you a pint for shaping their careers (even if a few might pour it over you).
Cheers mate x