Danny Malin says axing Steph's Packed Lunch 'one big mistake' as Channel 4 show ends this week
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This week marks the end of an era as the curtains will close on Channel 4 Steph’s Packed Lunch after three years of broadcasting live from Leeds.
For TV bigwigs it might be just a case of ‘another one bites the dust’, but it is a big loss to the people of Leeds and Yorkshire as well as the rest of the UK.
I may have been catapulted into the limelight through social media and then going viral presenting on YouTube, but there is something extra special about presenting your first segment on TV.
I am someone who has been brought up on a staple diet of four TV channels and a daily routine shaped around TV show timings, so when I first appeared on Steph’s Channel 4 show as a guest presenter, it was a big deal.
Anyone can start a channel on YouTube whereas there’s more hoops to jump through and very few opportunities to appear on national TV.
My mum and dad watched my appearance on the show live on TV and even recorded it to show all of their friends. It was a Christmas special on unusual ready meals.
Since then, I have been on the show again as a guest presenter rating Valentine’s ready meals and regularly as a Lunchmate.
Regardless of what I have done on the show the mission statement backstage sums Steph’s Packed Lunch up. It reads: “A family on screen chatting with our family of viewers off screen….”
Not only does the show create opportunities for many northerners to work on and off screen but it has created a real sense of family amongst the whole team. Steph herself is an inspiration having started filming the show from her kitchen in lockdown and today three years later, it has been extended to two hours each lunchtime as well as being nominated for a BAFTA.
The people who are integral to making the show what it is are those working behind the scenes. And the Lunchmates who’ve been dedicated audience members – doing much more than just watch, but contributing to the show daily. There’s a really great community of people who are like an extended family.
I know times are changing when it comes to TV and going digital, but there’s always solutions because the show has done what’s hardest on any platform by creating an engaged and loyal audience who will daily watch two hours of news, cookery, fashion.
And most of all, will have a taste of our local talent.
Channel 4 is making a big mistake. Hopefully another channel buys it and keeps it broadcasting from Leeds. This is more than about money, this is about robbing the North of opportunities.
What Channel 4 has said
Making the announcement earlier this year, the broadcaster said the budget for the show will now be reallocated to other programmes in the nations and regions.
A statement said: “Steph has not only made the nation’s lunchtimes more entertaining and brilliantly reflected the views and pre-occupations of the country, but the show has also been an outstanding springboard for developing local talent behind the scenes.
“However, with audience habits changing quicker than ever, we have to make difficult decisions about which programmes to invest in to best drive our digital-first strategy and we have decided not to recommission Steph’s Packed Lunch when its existing production contract ends in December 2023.
“We remain as committed as ever to our mission to help level up the TV industry outside London and to our 50% origination out of London target.
“We will be reinvesting the budget previously committed to Steph’s Packed Lunch into other nations and regions productions.
“We have almost 500 roles outside of London and this will continue to increase over the next few years.
“We will continue to build on the legacy of the show, evolving what we do in line with our digital ambitions whilst continuing to reflect the lives of, and give a voice to, all our audiences across the UK and hope to work with Steph on other projects soon.”