Would things be Vine and dandy as the BBC Radio 2 and Eggheads presenter parked himself in the chatty Channel 5 hot-seat previously occupied by Matthew Wright?
He was certainly off to a smooth start. Jeremy Vine’s first day in the job highlighted, in particular, his ability to pivot from serious to throwaway without the discomfort that light entertainment anchors often let peep through when challenged by shifting tones.
Looking both relaxed and enthused, he shifted from discussing the Labour anti-semitism row with Alastair Campbell and then pretended he was about to take tea with the audience. If only the wobbly Channel 5 set hadn’t resembled a cardboard cutout that a mild breeze might topple (it might have further helped if his name were more pun friendly – “Jeremy Vine”, as the show is now known, doesn’t have quite the groany zing as “The Wright Stuff”).
The big coup was an interview with controversial Celebrity Big Brother contestant Roxanne Pallett, whose on-screen accusations of violence against fellow contestant Ryan Thomas have provoked a firestorm.
Understandably upset, Pallett apologised to Thomas for the “punch” incident. Having lost her moorings in the pressure cooker of the Big Brother house, she had, she said, incorrectly interpreted a playful gesture on his part as physical abuse.
"When I look back on that footage, as soon as I left the house… I got it wrong," she continued. "Everything in that house becomes heightened, a look, an action, a comment. All I can say is in the moment, it felt worse than it was."
Her body language was of someone having the worst morning of their life. Faced with such distress another interviewer might have taken pity. But Vine, drawing on his prior experience at a newsman, pressed his point that, were it not for the cameras, her word would have been taken over that of Thomas whose career might have been destroyed.
Vine is a different stripe of presenter from the flinty Wright, who last May announced his departure from the job after 18 years. He is also very obviously determined to remain his own man and any worries that he might be tempted to take a leaf from the Piers Morgan school of early morning pugnacity proved wide of the mark. When, during a debate about Brexit that went on far too long, a caller from London insisted that Britain could successfully exit the EU, the host was respectful and did not join the chorus of scoffs (Campbell was flanked by singer Jamelia and morning TV veteran Anne Diamond on the panel). He may not have agreed but he didn’t go the full Morgan and jeer at the man for his opinion.
The froth, it is true, tipped into silliness sometimes, such as when Campbell, discussing Paul McCartney’s claim to have seen late wife Linda reincarnated as a squirrel, recalled spying two birds and believing they were the spirits of his parents.
And a segment about worst first days at work ever plumbed the Alan Partridge-esque depths as Diamond fielded an awkward live call from her old breakfast telly mucker Nick Owen and we learned that, when his hands turned cold with terror before a big interview, she would warm them for him. As Vine intimated, this was Too Much Information with great screaming klaxons on.
Vine is perhaps too slick to be likeable – but, on his Channel 5 debut, he never tipped into smarmy. He could be spontaneous also, laughing when a cameraman broke a cup and pausing to retrieve his pen from the floor.
These may seem like trivialities but there are hosts who would make a muddle of such simple interactions. Vine, by contrast, came across as how he doubtless is in real life: confident and clubbable, doing a job he could probably perform in his sleep. His first day out was hardly spectacular – he may be tested more when interviewing #MeToo activist Rose McGowan on Tuesday – but nor was there any danger of him ever stumbling outside his comfort zone and making it awkward for Matthew Wright die-hards tuning in.