AS Big Breakfast new boy Paul Tonkinson finds his feet on Channel Four's hit early morning show, he can be sure of a big audience in one part of the world.

Paul, 31, hails from North Yorkshire, and he has got his family and friends rising with the dawn to watch him on television.

He is part of the new line-up of presenters, including Tyneside's Donna Air, who have the task of following in the footsteps of Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen.

Paul, an award-winning stand-up comedian, has already been a presenter for MTV Hot, Channel Four's Dicing With Debt and Pop Gun, and the BBC's Sunday Show.

Before fame beckoned, he spent his early years in Northallerton, where his family lived in Wycliffe Avenue. He attended the Grammar School, now Northallerton College.

He left North Yorkshire in 1987 to study at Manchester University before moving to London, where he established himself on the stand-up circuit.

In 1997, he won the Time Out Stand-Up Comic of the Year award and since then his TV career has taken off.

His proud father, John, said yesterday: "We always knew he would make it.

"When he went for his interview at Manchester University, he told me he was going for an accountancy degree - and he only admitted it was actually a drama course when he got back.

"But it was definitely right for him, because he's made a real go of it and has never really been unemployed."

Staff at Northallerton College are also watching Paul's progress with interest.

"It's great to see that somebody has benefited from a good comprehensive education at one of the best schools in the country," said vice-principal John Kelly.

"We'll certainly all be tuning in and watching him."