Complaints about breakfast television from individuals in the UK and Ireland are at a plateau, claims a new statistical report - if population increases are taken into consideration.
Per head of capita, the number of people who have been disturbed by breakfast television crews, woken at five a.m. in order to take part in a "street scene" in the local village at some time between six a.m. and 9.30 a.m., has remained static.
Alongside such street scenes, people are often otherwise harassed in the middle of the night by the "Daybreak Doorsteppers".
"We have a cat and a dog here," said one recent complainant from Bristol. "We were called on to get ourselves up, and our family up - the pets included - at four a.m. Pots and pans were involved to wake the children. They wanted us to contribute to a discussion about house dogs and house cats and how well they get along, and specifically how well our Pepper and Tramp get along. I wanted us all to get dressed, but they insisted on dressing gowns and pyjamas and mugs of tea and coffee. And we were forced to put the dog and the cat together in our living room with the whole family, and the pets don't really like being so close - I mean, they just about tolerate each other to be honest, which is what I was going to talk about. Tramp was snapping at Pepper the whole time, and Pepper tried to scratch Tramp twice, and the reporter was just laughing all the time when we went on camera and going 'Ooh! How jolly! They're certainly not morning pets!' Tramp was looking at me like he was going to kill Pepper. But the crew didn't care once they got their two minutes of live footage at twenty six minutes past seven! Then we still had to bring the kids to school and go to work. We didn't, like, get the day off or anything, from the BBC."
A police officer and a traffic warden were recently interviewed by another crew, about the problems of phone use among drivers.
"The crew had us hanging around from five in the morning," said the police officer, as the traffic warden nodded along. "I saw at least a dozen drivers on the blower - and I could have stopped them while I was sat in the makeup chair at the side of the road, waiting for the tan to dry. I wasn't allowed to move and I was accused of skewing up my whole face because I tried to scratch my ear. When I coughed with the microphone on, I was told that I was throwing the levels out of wack and to just shut up till I have to talk. It was said in a nice way. 'If you could just be quiet till you have to speak, please.' Like that. Then they had us out of our chairs and they chatted to me for ten seconds at about ten past six in the morning, about road safety. Then they said they would have us back in an hour for more chatting. 'I promise you', the smiley girl said. I stupidly agreed. But they had the exact same question an hour later. Exact same ten second interview!"
Some complainants are taking their criticism beyond the Independent Broadcasting Commission.
Woken up by an aggressively cheery knock at the door with a live camera
and lights pointing at her face, a woman was recently told: "We're here in
the town to talk about World Mental Health Day." The woman
agreed with all of the general questions put to her before closing the door again. Two hours later, she contacted a solicitor over the undue stress that the encounter created. She has consistently declined subsequent interviews from the media - and there have been hundreds of requests to her in the last month.
The days of entire streets and extended families being forced to get up early for the delivery of a massive cheque, or for the birthday celebrations of someone exceptionally ancient, appear to be on the decline. But occasionally - even today - people are forced to line up to do street dances or to take part in processions of which they had no prior knowledge an hour earlier when they were sleeping.