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ROOM AT THE CHOP; STV axe Scotland's answer to Richard and Judy show.


SCOTLAND'S answer to the Richard and Judy This Morning show has been axed.

STV bosses pulled the plug on Room at the Top, the first live daytime chat show north of the border, after less than a year.

Launched last January, the three-times-a-week show, presented by former GMTV newsman Stephen Jardine and Sunday Mail columnist Alison Craig, was an immediate hit with viewers and ran until July.

Over the holiday period, a spin-off show, Summer at the Top took over before Room at the Top returned from September to December.

Another spin-off, Tonight at the Top - an evening version of the show presented by Stephen on his own - was also a success.

But last night an STV spokeswoman confirmed that, although the station had been happy with the show, there were no plans for any future episodes.

The Glasgow-based channel ploughed thousands of pounds into building a studio on the roof of the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre in the city.

Special staircases had to be built to meet fire regulations for the glass studio, which is set 100ft above the streets.

The set had to be lowered through the roof by cranes, and Alison even underwent a course of hypnotherapy to overcome her fear of heights.

Celebrities including Posh Spice, David Duchovny and Engelbert Humperdinck were among the guests who braved the rooftop challenge.

But STV has failed to renew the contract for the unique studio and the show has been taken off air.

A spokeswoman said: "Our programme portfolio changes every year and we are constantly developing and working on new programme ideas.

"Room at the Top was a programme we were very happy with, which ran when there was a slot available for it in the afternoon schedule.

"The schedule changed and the slot was no longer there. Therefore, we are no longer making the programme, but we are making other programmes."

She also rubbished rumours that the leasing arrangement ended after Buchanan Galleries felt it wasn't being "name-checked" enough in the show, after providing the studio space without charge.

She added: "We have a very good relationship with the landlords.We are discussing an arrangement with them which leaves the studio set up as it was so that, if we want to go back, it is ready to be used again."

Buchanan Galleries manager Hamish Millar also denied there had been any fall-out. He said: "We would have been delighted if Room at the Top had stayed on, but they chose not to. But if they decide they want to come back, the facility is still there for them."

Although he denied there was any formal agreement for the show to mention the centre, he admitted the Galleries were name-checked as a thank you for providing the studio.

He said: "We would have loved them to mention us all the time, but that was clearly not possible, and never could be possible under the rules which STV work.

"But there was no question of us kicking them out because they weren't mentioning us.

"As far as we're concerned, if STV came back to us tomorrow and said they wanted to bring Room at the Top back and asked for the space, the answer would probably be yes."

Last night, co-presenter Alison said she was "disappointed and confused" by STV's decision to drop the show.

She said: "It got a great response from the public - it really had a life of its own. We hit some really high viewing figures for an afternoon slot.

"We had great guests and Stephen and I had a great on-screen relationship.

"All this makes the decision not to commission another series all the more confusing."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 4, 2001
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