Gaby Roslin, super heroine? It almost happened! Former Marvel UK editor and comics writer and publisher Tim Quinn has uncovered some tantalising items about Marvel UK’s proposed fortnightly magazine for Channel 4’s Big Breakfast show, titled The Big Breakfast Jam, planned for release in 1993.
“The show was at its height back then so would have been a good idea,” Tim tells downthetubes. “Paul Neary and I had meetings with Waheed Alli at Planet 24, the company that produced the show for Channel 4.
“The magazine was well on the planning way, so I’m unsure why it didn’t go ahead,” he adds.
Sadly, Tim hasn’t yet unearthed any artwork for the project, but as you can see, a full schedule and outline was worked up, and Tim tells us Mike Western was lined up to draw “Chris & Gaby’s School Days“, a strip about presenters Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin‘s teen years, learning their trade at TV School.
Mike’s son Peter Western, who is working on a biography of his father’s life in comics, doesn’t recall the project, but it’s one to add to his growing records of the much-loved artist’s many works, a creator probably best known for his work on titles such as Valiant and Battle Picture Weekly.
“No art exists that I know of,” he told us. “It continues to amaze me, the fact that Mike was never completely forgotten in those last years”.
Other planned strips included “Big Breakfast News Squad“, following the news squad as they attempted to reach the news ahead of anyone else; “Marvel Gaby“, a strip starring Gaby Roslin as a superheroine; and “Conservation Street“, parodying top TV programmes of the day such as The House of Eliot, Superman, Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch.
With a nod, perhaps to TV Comic‘s “TV Terrors”, also in the works was “Wannabe a Star“, centring on 12-year-old Charley Wannabe. Living close to the Big Breakfast house is a dream come true for Charley, but a nightmare for the Big Breakfast! Each issue, Charley attempts to break into the entertainment world via the show. There’s only one problem – Charley’s useless!
It’s possible, of course, that Marvel UK’s proposed title was pre-empted or scotched by a rival project that did make it to newsagents, albeit for just six issues – Fleetway Editions’ Zig and Zag’s Zogazine, published in late 1994 / early 1995, which we featured here on downthetubes earlier this year. Intriguingly, despite debuting on the Channel 4 show in 1992, the pair are absent from the planned line-up for The Big Breakfast Jam.
Down the years, Marvel UK did have some, if limited success with TV tie-in magazines, including Scooby Doo and his TV Friends, launched in 1982, running for 68 issues, and girls maagazine Kim, launched in 1982, which ran for 59 issues; and Worzel Gummidge, a title that actually had two different publications at MUK – the first, a monthly title, launched alongside Blake’s 7 in 1981, which lasted 10 issues, and a second launched in 1983, that ran for 23 issues.
There was also Top Cat’s TV Comic Show, launched in 1984 (40 issues), in addition to the many, many titles the company published that had toy tie-ins with some TV links, such as Transformers.
In 1994, Marvel UK did successfully produce a one-shot The Dangerous Breakfast comic – but this was a tie-in with radio station KISS 100 FM, and is a rarity indeed – and, suggests Jon Carpenter on his Starlogged blog, perhaps a direct commission by the station for a tailor-made Marvel comic, as it is just 16 pages in extent, with no cover price.
Broadcast on Channel 4 and S4C each weekday morning from 28th September 1992 until 29th March 2002, The Big Breakfast was produced by Planet 24, the production company co-owned by former Boomtown Rats singer and Band Aid/Live Aid organiser Bob Geldof, which also produced The Word for Channel 4. It later had an animation division called Impossible TV, founded in 1997.
A mix of news, weather, interviews, audience phone-ins and general features, the programme was distinctive for broadcasting live from a former lock keeper’s houses, commonly referred to as “The Big Breakfast House”, or more simply, “The House”, located on Fish Island, in Bow in east London.
Bob Geldof and television producer Tony Boland founded Planet Pictures which merged with 24 Hour Productions, headed by Charlie Parsons and Waheed, later Lord Alli. The company was bought by Carlton Communications in March 1999 for £15 million and eventually merged with Carlton Productions, where Lord Alli became managing director. The brand is now owned by ITV Studios.
Michael Carroll charts the rise and fall of many MUK titles in a handy guide