Richard and Judy, one of television’s most enduring partnerships, have called time on their chat show after 21 years.
The couple, who introduced viewers to a new style of cosy on-the-sofa interviewing, first appeared on screen together as the hosts of ITV’s This Morning in 1988.
At the height of their success, after moving to Channel 4 in 2001, they attracted 2.5 million viewers.
In 2004, the couple introduced their Book Club which went on to become the single most important sales window for authors, responsible for selling more books than the country’s literary prizes put together.
To date Book Club, which recommends which books viewers should be reading, has sold over 10 million books and generated over £60 million in book sales. Its featured titles are known to increase sales by as much as 3,000 per cent overnight and it has turned at least eight authors into multimillionaires.
The “Richard and Judy effect” made Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse, into a number one best-seller in paperback fiction for weeks.
They moved to the UKTV digital channel Watch, initially managing to bring in 100,000 viewers but this dropped to just 5,000 and yesterday they announced it had been a “mutual decision” to end of their Richard and Judy chat show.
In a joint statement, Richard Madeley, 52, and Judy Finnigan, 60, said: “Some you win, some you lose.”
They added: “When we started we said we wanted to get ahead of the curve, as British television inevitably goes digital. Looks like we were a bit too far ahead of the curve! Perhaps a bridge too far too soon, despite UKTV’s strong support.
“But TV is all about taking risks and that means sometimes you fail. It was a really worthwhile experiment and we don’t regret it at all. Now we’re both going on to other projects, together and separately.”
The final edition of the show will be broadcast on July 3.
The couple’s company, Cactus TV, are currently in discussions about how the hugely successful Book Club can continue.