Scott and Aluko show that it is worth taking a risk on fresh faces

It’s coming home, isn’t it? Maybe the heat has got to me, but I’ve been swept up on the wave of euphoria and am now firmly convinced that England are about to win the World Cup.

Book the open-top bus parade and prepare for gangbuster ratings for both the BBC and ITV.

I’m writing prior to England’s match against Belgium, when perhaps normal service will be resumed, but either way, ITV’s decision to forgo a group game looks inspired. It will be guaranteed bumper numbers for an evening kick-off of England’s second-round knockout game early next week.

ITV can also be pleased with how pundit Eni Aluko has performed in the studio, returning after debuting for the broadcaster at Euro 2016, as will the BBC with the excellent Alex Scott.

The duo have attracted a predictable barrage of social media abuse and been the subject of wilfully provocative newspaper articles, but have been bright, articulate and knowledgeable.

They’ve clearly done more research than many of the other new faces drafted in for the tournament and feel genuinely contemporary and close to the game. They are breaking down barriers because their high-level competence and charisma makes their gender irrelevant.

“It’s easier to talk of a commitment to new talent than to actually deliver on it, but happily there are plenty of good examples out there at the moment”

Scott and Aluko are also evidence of the value of new talent freshening up a viewing experience and of broadcasters being brave enough to move away from the tried (should that be tired?) and tested.

It’s easier to talk of a commitment to new talent than to actually deliver on it, but happily there are plenty of good examples out there at the moment.

Swan Films’ Neil Crombie is effusive about the natural warmth of Mehreen Baig, the Muslims Like Us contributor turned presenter, who is fronting her second single doc for the indie and is starting to demonstrate the ability to build an authentic connection with viewers.

Plus there’s plenty of buzz at Channel 4 about Jamie Demetriou, who’s breakthrough series Stath Lets Flats launches this week and is built around his compelling central performance.

Meanwhile, Joe Lycett’s emergence from the morass of panel show personalities as a mainstream presenter is exciting.

Replacing Claudia Winkleman on The Great British Sewing Bee is a tough gig, but his sharp edge could bring a twist to the format, and it will be intriguing to see how his tone transfers to teatime BBC1 for eight-part gameshow The Time It Takes. With a six-part

C4 consumer series in the works too, Lycett is about to make the leap from emerging to established talent. Let’s hope that becomes a well-trodden path for plenty more new faces this year.

Chris curtis

Chris Curtis is the editor of Broadcast