Poll of the Year 2023

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Welcome to the nineteenth running of the UKGameshows.com/Bother's Bar Poll of the Year, the year in question being 2023, which going by your comments wasn't a classic year for new formats in the broadcast genre, but there were some bright spots as we shall see. Also it felt like a proper breakthrough year in terms of streaming formats making waves, having threatened to do so for a while.

The envelopes are here so let's get on to opening them.

If you missed the Poll Result broadcast you can catch up with it here.


Hall of FAME 2023

Thirty-one different shows got nominated this year which isn't bad in a year which didn't feel like there were thirty-one new formats released. There's a clear top three, a gap to the next six, and then a fairly long-tail.

10= I Kissed a Boy, Rise and Fall

9- Picture Slam

8- The Piano

5= Big Brother, In With A Shout, Survivor

Well there we are. Back in 2001, Survivor used to outrate Big Brother, but Big Brother had all the positive press and felt like a bigger hit for Channel 4 than big expensive Survivor did for ITV. Twenty-two years later plus ca change, Big Brother very much capturing the social media generation for ITV2, Survivor, a slower-burn, underwhelming on BBC1. They were both good shows in their different ways though.

On Big Brother you said:

  • "Big Brother on ITV just decided to go very quick, and, personally, I like the truncated version more. The challenges were more attempts to be Taskmaster, or The Circle to be funny or cause division, but it wound up being a fair reboot."
  • "Great casting (the girls and the gays, definitely no Tom), season was a little short (understandably for a revival) but they did very well. Yesterday we suffer. Today we relax. Tomorrow we suffer again!"
  • "I was initially worried that the promise of 'back to basics' was too good to be true, but bar some minor ITV2 touches, was very faithful to the Channel 4 era of the programme. Bonus points for hosts AJ Odudu and Will Best, a brilliant pairing."
  • "A very strong revival of a classic format. Great looking house and extremely well cast."

On Survivor you said:

  • "After spending the better part of a decade of my life begging for some broadcaster to take a chance on a Survivor reboot, the Beeb finally bit the bullet. Results were mixed, and not helped by a weekend time slot that felt pretty unassailable. But once the game got going in the latter half of the series, it felt like a dream come true."
  • "I know it's likely ending up in Hall of Shame, but I have to stand up for this show - I've very much enjoyed how Brits took up the proudly American format and ran with it, introduced Immunity Idols, tribe switches, showcased pretty much only the top tier of imported U.S. challenges, and had the players develop from Kumbaya crowd followers to cutthroat savvy strategists. I really hope it's getting a second season, though realistically it's probably not."
  • "Definitely top of Hall of Shame, but I'm putting it here. Dull before the merge and with horrific scheduling from the BBC (maybe to pick up I'm a Celeb boycotters?) but picked up the pace with Chris' gameplay and Joel getting into it by the end. Never watched the format before and now obsessed."
  • "Great to have it back. Would have been nice to actually see their difficult living conditions more than "the bed to sleep on was a bit hard""

In the last year there's been an absolute glut of "name the thing in the picture" formats, Picture Slam eventually did good business scheduled before Strictly Come Dancing, John de Mol's The Floor is quite quietly conquering the world but not yet the UK, In With A Shout beat everyone to the punch in getting a UK broadcast and it did... OK, enough to get a second series, but it got more of your votes than Picture Slam. You said:

  • "One of those shows that could have turned out to be poor (ahem - Picture Slam - ahem), but was actually really well done. Joel Dommett is the ideal host, the show runs smoothly, and it's got heaps of playalong value. There are some challenging clips in there too, so it doesn't feel vacuous."
  • "ITV clearly needed to use up the Colour of Money set ideas from 15 years ago, but it was definitely more interesting than Picture Slam."
  • "Finally! A game show for all the people who say "I was yelling at the TV". Reminds me of MTV's Remote Control's end game, minus the giant torture wheel."
  • "Might have been pushed on air to get ahead of Picture Slam but was far better and more watchable."
  • "Good fast paced shout at the telly quiz."
  • "Fast paced and Joel is great for a show like this. Perfect Saturday night viewing."

4- Puzzling

Channel 5's attempt at a highbrow mental agility quiz, ended up doing about as well as you'd expect a Channel 5 attempt at a highbrow mental agility quiz would do, but clearly not without its fans. You said:

  • "At first I thought this was a BTEC Only Connect, but the more I watched it, the more I found it stood out in its own field. It was nice to see Channel 5 putting out a quiz show at primetime, which I can't recall them doing for a long while. Lucy Worsley was a good host (although I wish she wouldn't wave her arms around so much like she's channelling Magnus Pike) and the rounds tested a broad spectrum of knowledge."
  • "Of the attempts to snatch Only Connect's crown, this is one of the most assured - and from Channel 5 of all places! Nice range of logical and lateral thinking puzzles, simple enough to play along with at home but taxing enough to provide worthy challenge for the players. Mercifully (bar the first week's news) spared the typical C5 schedule kicking, which bodes well, and very professionally produced, already feeling like it'd been running for ages."
  • "It's a show that's rough around the edges, but it was nice to see a diversely-casted show, and a new show in this particular subgenre. Hopefully it gets the buff and polish it deserves for a second go round."
  • "Nice to see C5 have a go at a game show and a pretty good go it is too. Lucy Worsley is a pleasantly different booking and clearly very invested in the show. There are some nice rounds in there with the pictures and Rule Breakers, though we could do with a bit less Televised Counting (and even if you are going to keep it, please have a bit more consistent difficulty!)"
  • "A fun, creative little show, with the nice added twist at the end of the winning team having to play each other."

3- Deal or No Deal

Surely it's not been away long enough. Surely the reduced top prize will make it feel cheap and a bit rubbish. Stephen Mulhern. Turns out, didn't matter, it absolutely smashed its timeslot and whilst that sounds like that shouldn't be challenging it's pretty much the only reboot of the format that's succeeded internationally in the last five years or so. You said:

  • "Deal or No Deal had so much going against it, and in many ways, it still does. The Dream Factory is now a "pay the rent" factory, and the banker is really stuck on "playing villain" to really build a personality. However, if it wasn't for the charm of the contestants and Stephen's ability to keep the Noel tension, yet bring his ability to stand on his own with his magic background. I know if it gets series 2, it'll iron out all these issues."
  • "Stephen Mulhern showed his presenting chops with this revival; it's nice to see him away from the high-energy antics of the lighter shows he's on. It was very easy to get sucked back into the show, with some great contestants and lots of banter from early on. They definitely need to bring it back - and I'm not even bothered about the drop in the jackpot."
  • "Sets good, Stephen’s decent and keeping the original music is also a great touch. Such a shame the board and crazy bank offers in the later stages let it down so much. I love Deal or No Deal, hence why it gets a vote here, but this version annoys me, not because it’s bad, but because it SHOULD be better."
  • "A reboot of DOND without Noel and with a reduced top prize seemed a recipe for disaster, but Stephen Mulhern proved to be an excellent host, and with great casting, the lower prize didn’t seem to matter too much. All these years later this show is still tense, still compelling, and still one of the best game shows ever."
  • "Mulhern is a reliable host (he's no Noel), show is tense even without the 250K. Banker's offers are ALL OVER THE PLACE but maybe that'll settle down in a S2."
  • "I fully expected to hate this due to the board changes. It kind of plods along for 40 minutes then the offers get extremely generous. Core game shines through and safe pair of hosting hands with Stephen."

2- The Finish Line

It's a quiz based around those donkey derby arcade games you get in amusement parks and the like and that's a really fun idea, whether this gets the most out of that concept may be open to question, but Roman Kemp's good, Sarah Greene's a TV legend and good episodes with fun contestants were entertaining. You said:

  • "Of the new quiz offerings this year, Finish Line felt like the one with the most staying power. Yes, the podiums are mockably slow. Yes, we're not entirely sure why there needs to be two hosts. But Finish Line feels like a package which largely becomes more than the sum of its parts."
  • "“What a race!” Roman Kemp proves himself a very adept host to a fun format here. If they could do a bit more racing and a bit less qualifying then that would be ideal. Sarah’s perfectly good but seems like a co-host for co-host’s sake."
  • "In a year with very little going on, this fast-paced and unique quiz is able to stand out more than it would have in a normal year."
  • "Took a while to appreciate how important the qualifying rounds were for the races. It created great tension, with some of the races coming down to the split second. And a difficult endgame. Good partnership between the presenters too."
  • "Surprise hit of the season, the gimmick looked daft on paper but we adjusted to it remarkably quickly."
  • "Inexplicably went from Hall of Shame to Hall of Fame in its first week. Unbalanced, but well cast and strangely compelling."

1- Popmaster TV

And that means your favourite new format of the past year wasn't even on one of the main terrestrial channels it started out on More 4 (of Very Hard Questions fame), the last time that happened it was Dave's Go 8 Bit all the way back in the Poll of the Year 2016, based on Ken Bruce's extremely long-running radio feature, the TV show extended the idea whilst keeping Bruce's lightness of touch. You said:

  • "My favourite game/quiz show of 2023, but then I'm biased as I'm a big music fan. Never listened to the original radio show but very much enjoyed the TV version, and liked that the rounds tested different aspects of music knowledge, from years to recognising songs from their music videos. Ken Bruce was a great host and the set was fun and colourful. Some people have said that the only interesting bit was the 'original' Popmaster at the end but I enjoyed all of it and didn't mind the 60 min runtime."
  • "The audio version survived the jump to Greatest Hits largely intact, and the TV take expanded beyond a ten-minute diversion to give us the best poppy quiz we've had for ages. Glad to see they elected to use a variety of round and question formats rather than just looping the same idea around multiple times, which would have been less fun."
  • "The definition of a cosy little treat, I definitely took to the new televisual additions better than most. Ken looks absolutely at home floating around in his massive vinyl podium, and there was something very unique feeling about having a radio quiz converted for TV in 2023."
  • "At first bloating a 10 minute radio idea into a full hour programme might seem like overkill, but the new rounds they added suit the format very well. It also benefits from staying sufficiently difficult, a-la the radio version."
  • "I've never had the chance to hear the show on radio, but watching it on TV has been a joy. Glad it's gotten a second commission, though they should really get it out of More4, that's just cruel."
  • "The big "why did they never do this decades ago?" smash hit of the season. Host Ken won us TV viewers over like he'd been a regular since the 80s. High play at home value."
  • "Obviously made on a budget and deliberately less glitzy than The Hit List, but it was an easy win for Ken Bruce and Phil Swern to take the format to TV after they left the BBC and they've done a good job with it. Contestant casting was excellent - with a real emphasis on finding music trivia supremos who'd never had their moment in the limelight - and the whole vibe of the show, Ken's short sleeve shirts included, was enjoyable."
  • "Some tweaks needed in the earlier rounds, but a thoroughly lovely series. Can't believe it's taken this long to get it on TV!"
  • "This was really fun - good pace and variety of questions (though too much emphasis on recent stuff at times, which seemed a bit misjudged). Great to have another music quiz on TV. Some contestants got much harder questions than others, but in that respect it's just like the radio version!"

Hall of SHAME 2023

Unusually there were fewer shows on the Hall of Shame list than the Fame one, just thirty this year, but probably more unusually is how divisive many shows on the list are, quite a lot of the top ten Hall of Famers also appearing here in some capacity.

9= Scared of the Dark, Tempting Fortune

8- The Finish Line

7- Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream

6- Puzzling

5- Survivor

Funnily enough this got exactly the same amount of votes here as it did in the Hall of Fame. It's fair to say this didn't blow the BARB boxes out of the water despite the BBC giving it the Strictly Come Dancing lead-in and the headlines went big on the show's apparent £30m budget, which we're not sure we quite believe, or at least didn't come across on telly. You said:

  • "This is a reality show devoid of reality, jeopardy and any sense of urgency. It's basically a boring hour of pap where nothing happens, no one smiles, and faux emotion replaces genuine human interaction. In fact, Joel Dommett at many times looked like HE didn't even wanna be there, and who could blame him? I honestly can't believe that the BBC has allowed this piece of ordure to be broadcast on primetime Sunday Night. ITV3 might well have had it at a last resort. Some of the challenges were so tame they make the Egg and Spoon race at a village fete look like a serious ordeal."
  • "Not all bad but much less than the sum of its parts. Could have easily been about 10 episodes rather than 16 without really losing anything. Some of the games were good but a surprising proportion were almost motionless, essentially just standing around waiting for someone to fail – not thrilling television."
  • "Overproduced with too much music and too many confessionals - boring challenges - badly cast - unsuitable choice of host. In one episode they spoiled the result by showing who the swing vote voted for before the reading of the votes. Shows huge lack of awareness."
  • "This always felt like such a weird show for the BBC to revive given we've had plenty of "people stuck on island" formats since it went away the first time, but the Survivor reboot is possibly the new gold standard definition of "meh". Tedious games, contestants I didn't care about, the perennially irritating Joel Dommett. No wonder it bombed, and bombed badly."
  • "Maybe it just came along at the wrong time, right in the middle of a glut of reality shows, but I just couldn’t be bothered with it beyond the first couple of episodes."

3- In With A Shout, Picture Slam

Well in a way this is kind of lovely isn't it? Two shows with basically the same idea coming at it at a slightly different angle, one that actively seems to hate anyone over the age of 16 with its thumping music and lights, the other maybe a bit too far the other way, In With A Shout did at least do Picture Slam a favour in getting it pushed into the Autumn to accompany Strictly which worked well despite Picture Slam being conceived and made first.

On In With a Shout you said:

  • "In with a shout, is a flash card quiz. You see a banana. You say banana. In early years of game shows, they would want contestants to figure out items by having it drawn or pantomimed or talked about without saying it, but now, we have gotten very lazy, we will just put up a photo of a banana, and you say banana and you win. But Picture Slam has an easy scoring mechanic, this has a money ladder that goes up and down if you pass, like Ellen's Game of Games Hot Hands without the name."
  • "Of the 'identify this' programmes - which by their nature exclude some contestants and viewers, though that's for another day - this is my least-preferred. The relentless shouting from players and host is a polar opposite to something that rewards careful, calm thinking like The 1% Club; also, the up-and-down money ladder idea is overly complex compared to others just rewarding correct answers directly."
  • "There’s a decent format here, but I think it’s a round not a whole show. My main criticism when I watched an episode is that it sounded terrible. Short bursts of Joel saying things that had obviously been spliced in after-the-event stuck out like a sore thumb and were unbelievably frequent. There seemed to be more ADR than live recording!"
  • "Picture Slam bit with none of the variety, IWAS felt very rushed out the door and was all around a bit headache inducing."
  • "This just isn’t Dommett’s year, is it? He couldn’t save this banal, far-too-easy quiz. 2023 had a strange affinity for picture identification formats, and while this was the least offensive of the bunch, it still managed to be boring."

Meanwhile on Picture Slam you said:

  • "Picture Slam is a flash card quiz. You see a banana. You say banana. In early years of game shows, they would want contestants to figure out items by having it drawn or pantomimed or talked about without saying it, but now, we have gotten very lazy, we will just put up a photo of a banana, and you say banana and you win. But In With a Shout has a interesting set of televisions in a row and this has a boring TV monitor in a dark black set with assumed app icons? It's like that "guess the logo" app game, but because it's the BBC, I need to point out, there are other similar photo games out there."
  • "Where In With A Shout succeeded, this failed. Whilst I did watch a couple of these, as it certainly works as background noise, there was a lot wrong with the programme. It was clunky, requiring contestants to repeat answers on the clock far too many times. The decisions on what could be accepted as an answer were unusually mean for such a light show. The show was pretty light on content, and the different rounds were far too similar to each other."
  • "Boring and didn't show Alan Carr in his truest form."
  • "My singular vote goes to Alan Carr's Picture Slam. Not a bad idea for a show by any means, but the idea was done better by other shows this year, and the show overall was just bland and forgettable. Didn't help that the show also felt like 45 minutes of unintentional product placement."
  • "Picture Zzzzzzzlam."

2- Next Level Chef

A show that apparently didn't work on any level, complete's a triumverate of UK Gordon Ramsay entertainment failures over the last few years (see Bank Balance and Future Food Stars for more information), apparently nothing could "lift" this in the nation's hearts. You said:

  • "Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition is bizarre, banal nonsense. I mean basically, contestants randomly grab ingredients from a dumbwaiter, then cook in concept kitchens while the celebrity chef breathes down their neck. How bewildering! Next Level Chef is a breathless, bewildering gabble of a show; It's simply just a cookery contest that is so obsessed with contrived competition that it almost completely forgets about food at all."
  • "Touted as the next great cooking show, all it really had was a fancy set bolted onto Yet Another Cooking Competition. As so often with these things, also built up its own self importance too much as well."
  • "Poor Gordon, having ALL his shows flop in the UK, though he's probably been too FOX'ified by now to know why or maybe even care."
  • "Some elements were straight up weird (like the sprint from the lift to the descending food platform - WTF?!). Overall, it's not as good as other shows currently in that space."

1- Rise and Fall

A bad year for elevators, here's Studio Lambert cashing in on the strength of The Traitors, the sad thing is there's probably a fairly good idea at the heart of Rise and Fall, the elites in the penthouse controlling the lives of the workers earning the money, and the potential for swapping positions and power struggles within that universe - that's how the show was advertised - and yet at every turn, at every decision where they could have made a good formatting choice they seemed to do the exact opposite and it just left everyone a bit baffled. Not helped by it's quite strange decision to film about two weeks before broadcast for a four-week show so production panic that it wasn't going down well didn't show up on screen until a fortnight through, by which time it's a bit late and looked a bit like changes borne through obvious panic. You said:

  • "Do you know The Traitors? What if it was themed around a Class System with Elites and Working Class, elites get all the benefits and the opportunity to win, but working class build the money but won't win any of it. It's as of Karl Marx's Das Capital became the team task on a boring series of Big Brother. And we have Big Brother now. "
  • "We lost The Circle and gained this – not a good trade, I’m afraid. Some deliberately divisive casting and a “make it up as you go along” format meant this was a difficult watch."
  • "Rise and Fall was one of the shows that really took a big swing this year, and fell super flat for me. The cast felt charmless from the off, and mechanically the game felt even messier than Lambert's original series of The Circle. I found the format structure too tiring to follow, and there felt like very little reward in doing so."
  • "What will the rules be this episode nobody knows. Also completely flawed voting system that could have been easily fixed."
  • "Greg James really deserves a successful game show in his career, and he's usually pretty astute in the projects he associates himself with, but Rise and Fall was a real dud - and felt like an on-screen pilot for some of the voting mechanisms that Studio Lambert passed onto The Traitors. We gave up a couple of episodes in, and it seems most other people did the same."
  • "Genuinely loved this show for just how awful and messy it was. But it was atrocious."
  • "Wanted to like it but they were blatantly changing the rules as they went along and the end game where 1 contestant could unilaterally end another contestants game? Nah, pass."
  • "Rehashed elements from a hundred other reality shows, all done worse than the originals."

Streaming Five of 2023

We have always been about the formats on these pages, so this year with the streaming services offering some proper breakthrough hits in the genre we felt it was time to put them properly under the spotlight. We love our Twitch streamers of course, and may well end up doing something regarding them in the future, but we didn't want effectively a personality contest dominating the list especially one where everyone's pretty much on the same side anyway, so we tightened up the criteria for what was allowed in here, and here were the shows you voted for.

5- Jet Lag: The Game (Nebula and Youtube)

For all everyone seems to bang on about this, we're quite surprised it's taken this long for it to make the Streaming Five, not just limited to nerds on the internet we know people who actually watch this in real life. You said:

  • "Jet Lag The Game had had a great second year, it's no longer connect 4 in the U.S. but a board game with New Zealand, Capture the Flag in Japan, and a Tag Across Europe. The Dynamic of Sam, Adam and Ben are a dream trio. Sam with the knowledge and ability to research, Adam with his ideal reality show contestant stress points, but ability to do the competitions he dishes out and Ben as a comedy mind that could bring in audiences that might not be into game shows, travel shows or reality TV."
  • "An Amazing Race adjacent show with fun personalities that are a joy to watch."
  • "Race Across the World as a panel show, what a wonderful thing this is. The core 3 cast members are always a delight, and the guest racers are more hit than miss. The tasks are fun and have improved as time goes on, here's to many more Jet Lags!"

4- Cheat (Netflix)

Nobody pays for streaming to watch a general knowledge quiz, but this one was at least legitimately entertaining featuring Danny Dyer in excelsis, Ellie Taylor as an excellent question master and a legitimately tense endgame. Basically a rather more compelling version of a similar idea, Bullshit: The Gameshow, Netflix tried previously. You said:

  • "Cheat managed to do the best "don't get caught" game show, in a sea of Dirty Rotten Cheater and Bullshit the Game Show,, where it's all about pressing a button to get the answer and trying to not get caught. The final is more intense than Weakest Link or I Literally Just Told You, because while it's penalty shootout style, it's also sudden death. It's a thrilling watch that not many people watched and pulled after one series. "
  • "For my money, this is the best quiz of 2023. Danny Dyer’s great hosting, a really well designed format with lots of strategy and intrigue to it, good casting and an overall fun vibe made this show a joy to watch. Shame we won’t get a second series."
  • "Best end game of any show in 2023. And please keep hiring Danny Dyer, he instantly makes any show better."
  • "I bloody loved this show. Every single thing about it was just amazing. A lighthearted bluffing show casting non-quizzers (and one UC-alum???????) to answer easy questions for stupid amounts of money. Brilliant."
  • "I'd put it in the Hall of Fame if I could. A solid, funny quiz on a service where it never stood a chance."

3- 007: Road to a Million (Amazon Prime)

Quite an unusual use of the James Bond licence - a gameshow where Brian Cox sends people around the world doing challenging missions and answering questions for a million quid, like a more modern Bond-themed version of The Phone - this looks like it had a serious amount of money spent on it and this really comes across on screen. Bond fans seemed confused and entertained by it in equal measure. You said:

  • "007: Road to a Million does deserve credit for taking an IP like Bond, and instead of just 1:1 do it again, like Squid Game. They turned it into a teams based stunt show. Go to the thing, do the thing to get the case (or a room with a new, cool way to ask a question) and if you're right you continue to the next mission. Unlike millionaire, every level is a safe haven but the missions get more dangerous and the questions a little more challenging. But it changed my perspective on the cinematography of these shows, and how to approach a game show based on an IP. "
  • "It's a shame the first episode didn't really sell the show, and it's a shame the ending's a bit disappointing, because the rest of it looked and felt absolutely sumptious and entertaining and it was extremely well cast in the main."
  • "The hot new trend is SVODs making gameshows from scripted shows, it seems. I anticipated this would be a spy thriller take on Amazing Race, but what we got skewed much closer to Millionaire meets Don't Try This At Home. I still thoroughly enjoyed what I saw, it felt unlike any game show I've ever seen, for better and for worse."
  • "I actually enjoyed this, Brian Cox as the controller fits well in a big budget game show that involves a lot of travelling to James Bond-related locations, hopefully next series someone goes all the way to the £1m."

2- The Devil's Plan (Netflix)

We were all big fans of Korean show The Genius a decade ago now with its combination of brainy strategy games and hugely stylistic editing and revelations so we extremely excited to hear that the same producer was working on a similar show for Netflix. Thankfully the DNA is pretty clear, only now there's a living together element between games and many overarching mystery arcs for the contestants and viewers. We're extremely happy to hear it's been recommissioned. Amusingly The Genius Game is coming to ITV in 2024. You said:

  • "Genius Game's edgier younger cousin, Devil's Plan absolutely captivated me and joyously it also found its way into the homes of many of my friends who had never heard of Sangmin and Co. Netflix giving this production team a blank check was a dream, and I look forward to seeing how the creator continues to throw things at the wall with another season."
  • "Brilliant show for those keen on strategy games, this show had so many intriguing challenges and fun players."
  • "Who knew Big Brother meets The Genius would make a good show?"
  • "The Devil's Plan is not The Genius Game, however, it is this more Netflix friendly reality show with surprises at every corner. Most will point at "Squid Game" this year, but TDP is what Squid Game: The Challenge tried to aim for - a game where people play as individuals, but need to work as a team if they want to build a jackpot. That jumping point is what makes TDP work. If it was The Genius, one player could find the hook and win the episode, but on this show there are ethical choices in the process when it comes to trying to win. One of the rare shows I would apply for."

1- Squid Game: The Challenge (Netflix)

Given that the drama its based on is basically based around a format in its own right, everyone wanted to have a go albeit without the risk of death. Netflix obliged and put up a $4.56m prize for 456 people flown in from around the world who would be whittled down to one in a series of giant playground games, similar to the ones in the drama but differing slightly so people can't get too comfortable, and additional eliminatory morality tests. Such a big scale production is not without its controversies, but it ended up being an extremely entertaining reality interpretation. You said:

  • "I love a big-hyped big-budget flop so imagine my disappointment when it turned out that Squid Games Challenge turned out to be hugely entertaining and a bit of a must-watch, although it is interesting that I thought the big scale games that formed the basis of the original turned out to be less entertaining than the interpersonal character tests between them."
  • "I expected to absolutely loathe this. How wrong I was. The game design team successfully managed to alter key moments from the scripted show into fair, playable games, and somehow they retained that dramatic scripting. The most exciting parts were the totally new elements, with the highlight of the whole thing for me being Circle of Trust."
  • "High production values and many twists meant this was a enthralling gameshow whether or not you had seen Squid Game."

The rest of the top ten: 6- Lateral (Podcast and Youtube), 7- Physical 100 (Netflix), 8- Romesh and Tom Take on Takeshi's Castle (Amazon Prime), 9- Fingers on Buzzers (Podcast), 10= Gambit Game (Youtube), Game Changer (Dropout), No More Jockeys (Youtube), Run For The Money (Netflix), TLDR Race Across The World (Youtube)

The Golden Five of 2023

And so we come to our annual award for Only Connect to win best gameshow on broadcast television that had at least one episode broadcast in 2023, which this year is slightly unusual as everyone wanted to vote for The Traitors but couldn't because it went out the previous December thanks to a couple of unusual scheduling factors. Also bad news for Riddiculous. But what things did you vote for?

4= Taskmaster, The Wheel

Every time we think we're getting a bit bored of Taskmaster they'll throw a name out for the following series and suddenly we're all "ooh, I wonder what they'll be like" and pulls us back in, Julian Clary in this year's case. Down two places.

  • "Despite becoming part of the furniture to some degree, Taskmaster continues to delight on a biannual basis. Julian Clary was the clear stand-out contestant from 2023's crop, but there was a lot of interesting characters, and the barge tasks in particular were great fun."
  • "Two of the best casts since the Dave days, overcoming even the slightly more strained task writing."

It might have had quite a disappointing US run at the end of 2022 but The Wheel continues to be a Saturday night banker for the BBC. Up two places.

  • "Drama and fun on a Saturday night – what more could you want!"
  • "Lovely atmosphere."

3- Richard Osman's House of Games

Coming off the back of one its strongest ever ratings months six years into its run, House of Games holds its position this year.

  • "Some nice prizes in the Festive editions and I’m liking the new rounds, in particular ‘There’s a cat on my keyboard’ and ‘Flamingo, pot plant, middlemarch’. I always make an effort to watch every episode whether it’s live or on catch up."
  • "Out of the shows I watch, it's currently the only one I'll watch every day. You get few other shows with such variety, and it's one of the easiest cheats to finding out about up and coming comedy acts."
  • "Just consistently brilliant. Lots of lovely groups of celebs this year and another crop of new games to boot."
  • "Was worried they were running out of good ideas after last year, but the new games this time 'round are a huge improvement."

2- The 1% Club

Mmm, this has finished the previous two years in eighth so this is an extremely impressive showing. There always seems to be a question mark hanging over it in terms of how many possible questions it has in it, we've noticed a lot more processing against the clock questions in more recent episodes, how much this will end up mattering we won't know for a while but it's got a big order of shows coming in 2024.

  • "One of the best and most original game shows around right now. I love the banter and mickey taking between Lee Mack and the contestants."
  • "Different, clever, funny – what doesn’t it do! It even puts the questions on screen in big font these days!"
  • "A really enjoyable hour. Nice mixture of questions and chat that suits Saturday night telly. Probably my favourite show right now."
  • "Not sure how many more series you're going to get out it due to the nature of the questions, but at the moment it is purring."

1- Only Connect


  • "Crazy to believe we're knocking on the door of 20 series of OC now. Feels like it has fully graduated from niche quiz show to a staple part of British culture."
  • "The satisfaction at getting something right is unmatched by any other show, especially knowing how impressed Victoria would be!"
  • "Still refreshingly odd, more shows need a host that wears boxing gloves."

Bubbling Under: 6- The Chase, 7= Bridge of Lies, Countdown, Limitless Win, 10= Deal or No Deal, Popmaster TV

Magic Moments

Finally a look at some of your Magic Moments, a freestyle category this is basically a mixture of popular moments and other things you mentioned that caught our eye.

Finally, something we couldn't really include in the Hall of Fame but something that people wanted to acknowledge, which we think is fair enough, is the episode of horror comedy show Inside No. 9 that was 'last-minute replaced' by Lee Mack quiz 3 by 3. Here's the iPlayer link which should be good through 2024 but we can't make any guarantees it will still be working if you're reading this at at a later date.

  • "I know it doesn't count, but the 3x3 episode was delightful, one of the best bait-and-switch episodes ever."
  • "The spoof that could pass for a legit show."
  • "The climax to 3 by 3."

That's that for another year

As we write this in January 2024 it's difficult not to feel that more excitement has been packed into this one month than felt across the last year as a whole and this seemed to be reflected in your ballots, if the rest of the year can keep anything like the same momentum up then the Poll of 2024 should be absolutely stellar. For stats on this year's results head on over to Bother's Bar which shall provide them. Goodbye for now!

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