Can you believe it's 25 years since live breakfast television first awoke us with the comfortable sofas and bright, chunky knitted sweaters?

Before the dawn of the breakfast broadcast, the only thing on telly before lunchtime was the test card and perhaps a random schools programme. All that changed in 1983 with the arrival of the BBC's Breakfast Time and ITV's TV-am, which gave viewers the latest news and, of course, that handy on-screen clock.

First off the mark was the BBC with the imaginatively titled Breakfast Time which aired on January 17, 1983 and was presented by Frank Bough and Selina Scott. The presenters quickly shot to fame with their unnervingly cheerful brand of early morning banter and escapades.

The line-up included anchorman Nick Ross (later to present Crimewatch) and sports presenter David Icke. Other famous regulars included Diana Moran, known as the Green Goddess, and camp astrologer Russell Grant, not to mention future Newsnight presenters Jeremy Paxman and Kirsty Wark.

One of Breakfast Time's most notable episodes was on the morning of the Brighton bombing when Nick Ross in the studio presented continuous live coverage of the aftermath of the IRA attack during the Conservative Party conference, including live pictures of the rescue of senior politicians such as Norman Tebbit.

All in all, the show was revolutionary for the time and an early precursor to the 24-hour broadcasting we have on today's screens.

Launched several weeks after the BBC's Breakfast Time programme, ITV responded with TV-am. Spearheaded by the so-called Famous Five - Michael Parkinson, David Frost, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Robert Kee who were not only presenters, but also shareholders.

Struggling to compete against their already established BBC counterpart, TV-am soon ditched several of the top names.

Their replacements were former Daily Echo reporter Anne Diamond and Nick Owen. Oh, and a puppet called Roland Rat.

The articulate rodent did the unthinkable and attracted large audiences of youngsters that nudged up the viewing figures. After a couple of months on TV-am, Roland boosted the audience from 100,000 to 1.8 million and was described as "the only rat to join a sinking ship".

But by this time, Britain's viewing habits had been altered and the pioneering format of live breakfast television was here to stay.

Albeit with the occasional blunder such as Channel Four's The Big Breakfast and the downfall of several presenters. Frank Bough and his cocaine sex scandal, David Icke's eccentric views about lizard people, the tragic demise of Paula Yates and the heavily discredited John Leslie.

A quarter of a century later, though, and breakfast television is still alive and kicking, with both TV channels continuing to host successful morning shows such as the BBC's Breakfast and ITV's GMTV.

l A 25th Anniversary Special celebrating breakfast television will be shown on the morning of January 17 on both BBC1 and ITV.