TV holiday programmes are dumping their celebrity presenters and are being remodelled to appeal to the post-package traveller.

Clear blue skies, equally blue sea, golden sands and the familiar tanned figure of Judith Chalmers paddling on the beach telling us how much fun in the sun she's having. It was a familiar sight on TV screens for nearly 30 years. Now, alas, she'll have to book her holiday with Saga like the rest of us.

The television holiday programme is an endangered species. Or, at least, in the form typified by the BBC's Holiday and ITV's Wish You Were Here?. These days the schedules are more likely to be filled with series like Holidays From Hell or The Top Ten Holiday Disasters, than Chalmers topping up her tan.

Things were so different back in 1969 when Cliff Michelmore, a respected current affairs presenter, hosted the first Holiday show on the BBC. The world wasn't yet our oyster in those early days of package holidays and before the Internet and cheap flights made travel so much easier and more affordable.

Then, TV could be the alternative to the local travel agent, handing out advice and offering snapshots of places to visit. The Holiday format was simple enough with two or three filmed reports on foreign places on what came to be called a "tourism brochure of the air". Facts and figures were reported, but criticism was kept to a minimum.

Five years later, commercial TV travelled the same route with Wish You Were Here?.

Of course, many of the places visited were beyond the means of many viewers. Holiday programmes were criticised for that, although they enabled people to see foreign lands even if they couldn't afford to go there.

Michelmore's background in news programmes such as Tonight and 24 Hours made him the perfect anchor, backed by the common sense of travel experts like John Carter and Anne Gregg.

The emphasis was on reporters telling viewers about places to go. Once celebrities took over, things began to change. These people looked little more than freeloaders, using their fame to get a free holiday. Their opinions were no more valid than the man in the street.

In a bid to freshen the format, older presenters were sidelined to make way for younger, often blonde and glamorous, reporters.

Holiday presenters post-Cliff included Joan Bakewell, Frank Bough, Desmond Lynam, Anneka Rice, Jill Dando and, most recently, Craig Doyle.

John Carter switched channels to Wish You Were Here? in 1988 to join Chalmers before the blonde invasion took hold on ITV too. Mary Nightingale and Ruth England are the most recent presenters following Chalmers' move to roving reporter.

The feeling was that experience didn't count as much as a pretty face and firm body that looked good in various states of undress on exotic locations.

There were a few oases of seriousness amid the sunshine and superlatives lavished by those two shows. BBC2's The Travel Show was more critical, but the same channel's Rough Guides took TV travel in a new direction. Magenta De Vine, never without her dark glasses, visited places that even the locals didn't know about in her search for the unusual. Her holiday guides were aimed at a younger traveller more interested in the local nightlife than wildlife.

With ratings for Holiday falling and Wish You Were Here? demoted to daytime viewing, the time had clearly come for a change. The word is that the latest series of Holiday, beginning next week, is more serious, less-celebrity led.

New presenter Ginny Buckley isn't blonde, so that's a start. A journalist, she headed the motoring section on a Sunday tabloid before joining Holiday as a guest reporter two years ago.

New executive producer Owen Gay wants to get rid of the brochure feel and try to reflect what it's like to go on the holidays. Fewer famous faces are promised as part of the new look.

As well as traditional package holidays and budget breaks, far-flung destinations including China, Chile and Antarctica will be featured.

The first in the series has Buckley reporting from Muscat, the capital of Oman, plus reports on hiking in Spain and on Northern Cyprus - which doesn't sound that much different from any other series of Holiday.

Buckley, however, has continued the tradition of presenters who've landed what's been called "the best job in television". She's pointed out that it involves a lot of hard work. Filming schedules don't allow time for lying around on beaches or sampling the nightlife. Shooting reports is anything but a holiday.

Two passports, 40 flights, 14 different countries and 80 days away from home is her summary of the start of life as a Holiday presenter. She admits she wasn't sure what to expect when accepting the offer. "I knew it was the chance of a lifetime but also, having reported for the show before, I knew that it wouldn't be all glamour," she says.

Travelling the world is certainly different to her first family holiday at Butlins. And Holiday is different too. She views it as a factual programme, whereas series like Wish You Were Here? have tended to use more celebrities.

"We shouldn't be showing people the obvious because you can get that from a brochure," she says. "I want to show people the really unusual things they might not otherwise find on their travels."

* Holiday: Monday, BBC1, 7pm.

Published: 16/10/2004