Weaver's Week 2018-12-30

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The Week of the Year for 2018. In a nod to Countdown tradition, the best is at the beginning.


Top Five

These are the five programmes we expect to nominate in the Poll of the Year when it opens on 2 January. That's next Wednesday, it says here.

The Time it Takes (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1)

The Time it Takes Joe and Alison.

Joe Lycett asks general knowledge questions while all hell breaks loose in the studio. Co-host Alison Hammond is asked to do all sorts of useless tasks – separate clothespegs by colour, squeeze the juice out of lemons – while Joe asks questions.

This show offers two entertainments for the price of one. There's a visual treat of someone doing something televisually silly on screen. There's the audio treat of Joe asking questions to see if the contestant is paying attention or getting distracted by the lemon squeeze action. It's a fun entertainment and a decent quiz at the same time.

Football Genius (Hat Trick Productions for ITV4)

Football Genius Kick-off between Dulwich Hamlet and Manchester City.

Hat Trick have done well in the entertainment-quiz space this year. This column knows diddly-squat about football. We couldn't tell you about the goaltender for the Arsenal Hotspurs, nor any of the winners of the FA Superbowl Shield. We can tell you about a playful show when we see it, and Football Genius is exactly that.

Tim Vine hosts at his usual breakneck speed. Sam Quek from the hockey and Paul Sinha from The Chase introduce a set of football fans, and they answer questions to move a virtual ball about and – hopefully – make some soccer scores. The rules are just complex enough to satisfy football fans, but simple enough to make sense the first time we see them. Most importantly, we come away feeling like we've spent the last half-hour having harmless fun.

The Button (Avalon Television for BBC1)

The Button How to balance your books.

A half-hour of harmless fun was the feeling from The Button. Video links mean that the action takes place in your home, often using items or ideas we can all find familiar. The Button was often at its best when it was the most mundane – which family can get the most people in a queue in half-an-hour, or deflate a bunch of deflatables. That kind of thing.

Warm and joyful and human, The Button worked because of some really slick editing and a jaunty soundtrack. Alex Horne's voice explained the challenges, and talked directly to the competitors. The key element was the competing families, reflecting the diverse inhabitants and uniting them in a love of daft challenges. Prizes weren't huge, but the real prize might not be cash.

Prosiect Z (Boom Cymru Plant for S4C; two series)

Prosiect Z Lara Catrin evades the zeds.

The prize in Prosiect Z is not cash, it's survival. After a scientific project went wrong, the world has become a mess. Groups of children are stranded in their school, with help on the way. To get out, they'll need to unlock the front door; to unlock the front door, they'll need to distract the "zeds" by sounding an alarm, but where is the alarm? A single touch from one of the "zeds" will spread the nanobots, so don't get caught.

From a very simple formula (the same five rounds, played in the same order) we get great entertainment. Each show includes escape room challenges made specifically for your school, and tests the children in a manner appropriate to their age. We've enjoyed every minute of Prosiect Z, and it's reminded us how great television transcends language. We hope the show's being sold for international remakes, or adapted into a real-life escape room, and it's great to say "Won the 2018 Children's BAFTA for Best Entertainment Show."

Spy School (Zodiak Kids for CITV; one-and-a-half series)

Spy School Agent L, it's in a seahawk, in a seahawk, in a seahawk.

Hawked for international remakes, Spy School is a delicious mixture of challenge and entertainment. The challenge is deadly serious – pairs of children take on a "spy simulation" assault course, then test their wits and intelligence against touchscreen problems. Our dynamic duo are in contact with an agent at one of London's landmarks, and join her there for the final puzzle.

The characters are wonderful – Becky Naidoo plays the no-nonsense Agent L in the field, Jack Finch is the benevolent taskmaster Agent J. The star is Steve Furst's Goldfist, a Massive Evil Overlord (TM) who is perpetually betrayed by his own uselessness. A range of supporting characters with punful pseudonyms (robot fan Simon Borg, archaeologist Wendy-Anna Jones, moneylender Donald J Guff), and the producers smuggle a teensy-weensy little bit of educational content into each show. We've laughed at each episode, and cheered for the neophyte agents.

Cakey Cakey Sing Off

For quite some years, the biggest genre of new shows has been cookery. This year, the larder has finally emptied. Just one major new show went out on network television, Best Home Cook on BBC1 during the spring. Mary Berry was one of the judges, Claudia Winkleman was the host, but two of the Beeb's biggest stars couldn't elevate Best Home Cook to great heights. Make no mistake, this wasn't a bad show, but it rather sagged in the middle. Let's hope the second series will be more to people's taste.

Britain's Best Home Cook Mary Berry and her wingmen discuss cookery.

The BBC's cookery juggernauts returned – massive popularity for Masterchef, and Celebrity, and Professionals. Great Local Menu proved adept in its teatime slot on BBC2, where it was joined by Family Cooking Showdown, revamped to give more screen time to the winners. Channel 4 added a Professionals series to its pilfered Bake Off. The latter is Channel 4's biggest show, though still not quite as good or as popular as it was on the BBC.

Singing shows also ploughed their usual furrow. BBC The Voice of This Territory returned to ITV, winner Ruti is teasing something amazing in the new year. The X Factor felt like it was going through the motions for much of the series, and is surely running on fumes by now. Two series of CBBC's Got What It Takes? found very different winners – the extrovert Rio and the more understated Lauren both have the ability to become stars, if that's what they want.

All Together Now From the top of the Salford tower, it's The One Hundred.

Two new shows crossed our path. Change Your Tune gave performances by bad singers before they had vocal coaching, and then cut to their performance afterwards. Might have worked as a one-off, might have worked if they'd shown the journey, but not as a six-part series on ITV.

All Together Now turned into a proper hit on BBC1, a cast of 100 judges would join in with the performances they loved. It's a big and brash format, it rewards crowd-pleasers rather than delicate ballads, and it turned into a breakout hit early in the year. Another series is already in the can, and we'll spend at least one Saturday cheering along at the telly.

Celebrity shows

The Saturday nights are clear because Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway won't be back in 2019. Ant McPartlin left the show halfway through the series, to resolve some personal problems he was having. The last two episodes worked on a massive wave of goodwill to Dec, and support from co-hosts Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt. Got Talent just about worked as a Dec solo vehicle, and the winner was always going to be the winner.

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here was too big for Dec to host alone, so they drafted in Holly Willoughby from This Morning and Dancing on Ice. A "lowkey" series with much friendship and few manufactured rows, viewing figures were higher than ever, proving they're still doing something right. The greatest news is that Ant is recovered and able to return to work, he will appear on the new run of Got Talent.

Over on the BBC, Strictly Come Dancing ruled Saturday nights with a rod of iron. As usual, the winner was someone who had been on a journey, not someone who came in brilliant already. As usual, the scoring system conspired to keep in the popular but less-able contenders deep into November.

And They're Off For Sport Relief Orange falls in the water with a massive splash.

Just two new celebrity shows. And They're Off For Sport Relief raised money and laughs for Sport Relief, by getting well-known people to hurl themselves at a wall of water. The prizes were minimal, the show's aim was to raise money for charity through the medium of entertaining television.

At the end of the year, I'll Get This challenged celebrities to avoid paying for an expensive meal by playing a bunch of table games. A very good idea, perhaps needs a little less chatter in the next series.

Cheap-as-chips daytime quizzes

Here's another sector that seems to be consolidating, as the flood of daytime shows earlier in the decade has slowed to a trickle. The winners have held their place in the schedule.

The Chase was taken off air only for Mark Pougatch's The World Cup, and often proved to be ITV's biggest show of the entire day. Tipping Point remains phenomenally popular, and Tenable does the business. There might be room for something new at 3pm, but we can't see any major changes in the next year.

On BBC1, Pointless spread new episodes very thinly, viewing figures suffered, and was replaced over the summer by Rick Edwards' !mpossible. While Pointless Celebrities could run forever, we wonder if !mpossible is being lined up as the logical replacement at teatime – and maybe in Saturdays, after a celebrity run in early autumn.

!mpossible To succeed Pointless might be an impossible task.

BBC2 has its little block at 6pm. Eggheads celebrated 15 years on air, and there were new series of Richard Osman's House of Games and of Letterbox. With regular bookings for Great Local Menu and Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two, we reckon BBC2 is one teatime show away from a full house. As they've got quizzing and puzzles and words wrapped up, wonder if they might go for something drawful.

Channel 4 daytime has a bit of structure. Countdown sits in the 2pm hour, then there's often a quiz at 3 – Fifteen-to-One has been joined by The £100k Drop, a version of The Million Pound Drop with a digit missing and some editing to make it move faster. The lifestyle shows include Come Dine with Me and Four in a Bed, joined this year by Star Boot Sale and Buy It Now.

Chase the Case Deborah wins Game Show Security Guard of the Year.

Back on BBC1, a couple of new quiz formats were tried. Hardball with Ore Oduba measured progress by rate of success. How many questions have you answered correctly? How many questions should you have answered correctly in this round so far? Your place on the video wall, that's how many you have got. The place of this big silver ball, that's the required rate. The gap, that's your margin for error. So simple, even a daytime audience can understand it. But the show was a little bit too slow, and it was a flat and grinding watch.

Chase the Case was a game of partial information, deduction, logic, quiz, and trying to guess other people's reactions. Witty and entertaining questions, the charming Dan Walker, and a final round designed to make good television. The viewing public didn't take to the show, perhaps because you couldn't start to watch it halfway through and hope to play along.

This column's favourite new cheap-as-chips daytime show is Beat the Internet. The framing of an internet search engine hides a sharp quiz about pop culture, presented by the swift wits of John Robins. For various reasons, this show is buried in primetime on the Dave channel, when it needs to be teatime on Channel 4.

Beat the Internet "It's 'Beat the Internet with John Robins', writes John Robins' agent mother.

Primetime quizzes

The winds of change are blowing through BBC2's intellectual quizzes. Only Connect spent 2017 on a Friday night sabbatical, returning to Monday nights for 2018. It displaced University Challenge from 8pm, reversing the polarity of Quizzy Mondays. And the ratings figures have rewarded Only Connect with greater popularity – consistently, University Challenge has been about 100,000 viewers below The OC. We don't think this is weakness from UC, but OC finally reaching its potential after ten years.

There is a problem for Mastermind, it's been struggling for viewers for a few years, and capsized this autumn. Ratings aren't the only measure of a show, but it doesn't look good when a heritage brand is below a show the critics hate, like Letterbox. The problem is scheduling: Mastermind has been shunted from pillar to post, moving between 7pm and 8pm, and being taken off for sport. Cosmetic twiddlings with the presentation feel like change for change's sake. It will be interesting to see what emerges next series, as Mastermind is out for competitive tender.

The pinnacle of quiz is Top Brain, awarded once a decade for the greatest Brain of Brains winners. An edition of Top Brain was held this year, and we salute Mark Grant as the greatest quizzer of his generation.

Top Class Your obligatory Susan Calman picture.

We class Top Class on CBBC as a primetime quiz, as 9.30 on Sunday morning is primetime for the CBBC audience. Susan Calman asked questions of another set of primary schools, with the best side winning the tournament. Top Class is never going to be the most complex show, and Susan Calman remains an enthusiastic-to-shouty host.

Win Your Wish List returned for a new series on Channel 5, Gino D'Acampo took over the host's role. The show is now played by families, rather than couples, and includes physical challenges as well as asking each other questions. All of these changes enhance the game, and a greater budget helps to make this a destination show in its own right. Though there's little competition, we'll name Win Your Wish List as our Revival of the Year.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire also came back, catering to people who want Jeremy Clarkson to be on their television screens. It's a hard pass from this column.

Britain's Brightest Family Buzz, boing.

ITV had two very different family quizzes. Brightest Family with Anne Hegerty was a set of puzzles and challenges, not a test of general knowledge. The show attracted attention with a gimmick of rising chairs, and kept attention by being a properly hard knockout competition.

What Would Your Kid Do? was a question for parents; their child is put in unusual situations, and the parents predict what will happen next. Jason Manford hosts with a sparkle in his eye and a twinkle in his step, it's a show that accepts children as human and doesn't criticise them for not living up to unrealistic expectations.

Children's television

Which brings us to shows made for younger viewers. We've already waxed lyrical about Spy School and Prosiect Z. Swashbuckle continued to provide gentle moral lessons for the youngest viewers. CBBC continued its comedy panel game The Dog Ate My Homework and the entertainment show Sam and Mark's Big Friday Windup.

There are normally a couple of talent shows on CBBC, this year only Match of the Day Can You Kick It? filled the brief. A test of soccer skills and football ability, with a few cameo appearances from famous stars. We're not convinced there was enough variety and content to fill ten episodes.

Last Commanders Skye: for freedom?

There was enough to fill Last Commanders, and we weren't watching that show for the plot. Specially-programmed laptops allowed children at home to control actors in the studio, a sort of Knightmare with video-linked laptops replacing the Helmet of Justice. Four teams start each show, at least one will win, and it's edited together in a way to advance the adventure in a natural style. Most Jaw-Droppingly Brilliant Use of Technology – and we so hope to see more, because Last Commanders asks thoroughly interesting questions about cybernetics and its relationship with humans.

Reality and skill contests

Channel 5 hit on a promising idea: The Great Model Railway Challenge. It's got the warm embrace of Bake Off, it's got the slight nostalgia of Bake Off, it's got the motif of people working really hard and achieving things of lots of contests – including Bake Off. The show, which is a bunch of people making little worlds starring a model railway, charmed and captivated. It proved more popular than Big Brother, which came to the end of its run with a whimper.

All of the cool kids were watching The Circle, anyway. Channel 4's voice-activated show about life in a block of flats. The gimmick: the contestants never meet, never talk directly to each other. All they see are words on the screen. It led to lots of introspection, deep soliloquies about the meaning of life, the ontology of ratings, and whether that emojus is a turtle or a terrapin. Big characters dominated the game, and none bigger than Alex, who played the role of Kate, using his girlfriend's pictures. It's social media, edited and filtered and blurred for television, and clearly the television experiment of the year.

The Circle Dan's reaction when he met Kate is our tv highlight of the year.

Maya Jama also hosted MTV's True Love or True Lies, a show that ended up on very similar ground to The Circle. A bunch of couples live together in sunny Italy, but some of them are pretending to be couples. Every night, one couple's voted off, using evidence gathered during that day and previous days. There's playalong value as we viewers try to work out if Kim and Ron are a real couple, and if the teams have made a terrible mistake. The most convincing couple wins, even if they're faking it. Bit like Alex and Kate, really.

There's no music on MTV any more, but there's plenty from the Eurovision networks. May's Senior Eurovision Song Contest was won by a lucky cat and its feminist owner. August saw the Eurovision Junior Musicians contest, won by a superb pianist. Trust us, this event took place, even though it's not been shown on BBC4. In November, Junior Eurovision Song Contest was won by a contemporary pop song, now a top 20 radio hit in the performer's native Poland.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest No strings on your winner.

All three contests had heats shown over here. Eurovision You Decide felt like cookie-cutter television, with the best songs overtly undermined by a poor performance and more subtly by the judging panel. Young Musician of the Year was confined to BBC4, though outgoing champion Sheku Kanneh-Mason became famous when playing weddings in Berkshire. S4C's Chwilio am Seren lived up to its billing and found a star, though not the best result in Minsk.

Take the Tower wasn't so much reality as surreality: put normal people in preposterous situations, and film the results. Relive your favourite action movie scenes, such as the one where you're dangling from a hoist above a floor you mustn't touch. Or the one where you're playing quick-draw with Dolph Lundgren. The Hollywood hard man played a delicious character, but poor scheduling meant that literally no-one saw the ITV4 programme.

Take the Tower Dolph Lundgren, head of Dolph Lundgren Inc.

ITV2's Survival of the Fittest had huge ratings, by comparison. It was billed as the winter answer to omni-hit Love Island, but we proved less willing to sit down and watch people in February than we were in July. Might be the weather. We also don't expect further runs of The Satellite Channel's action shows Revolution (skateboards and BMXers) and Carnage (battle cars). The Wave (W) tried to meld quiz with swimming, and sank like a stone.

Pure entertainment

Channel 4 continues to thrash about, trying to find some entertainment hits. Village of the Year was a worthy daytime-primetime hybrid, Penelope Keith meandered through chocolate boxes, looking for worthy improvements to fund. The big failure was I Don't Like Mondays with Alan Carr, a messy programme that just meandered aimlessly before someone was resigned from their job. Six episodes made, three left on a Channel 4 shelf: that's even worse than The Crystal Maze, which aired all of its episodes produced this year (though three from last year remain unaired).

Ready or Not Yes! It's two women trapping Sam (or is it Mark?) in a lift!

BBC1 tried a couple of new formats. Ready or Not was a compendium of small games: how would you react to a talking dog? What happens when you meet Sam and Mark in a lift? Hidden cameras and a light heart made for fine fluffy viewing at Saturday teatime. We'd like to be as generous with For Facts Sake, but that would be a lie: it was like listening to Steve Wright in the Afternoon where they read bits out of the encyclopaedia, no context, not sure they understand it.

But there was a bigger failure. Wedding Day Winners brought two couples and their families and their friends to a studio. And gave them some very silly things to do. Not just talk to Lorraine Kelly and Rob Beckett, but bounce up and down to pop a Champagne cork. Or make egg sandwiches and a trifle while wearing boxing gloves and blindfolded. Or have a competitive barn dance. The winners get married on network television, and a five-star honeymoon; the losers are the viewers. It wanted to be the new Generation Game, but lacked confidence in its ideas, and came across as a mess. Taken off air after three episodes, the rest of the series was buried in the summer.

Wedding Day Winners Lorraine and Rob, not their best show.

The Generation Game was revived for two episodes on BBC1; the critics didn't quite understand what Mel and Sue were doing, and expected it to be as good as their memories tell them it was. But Generation Game was never consistently outstanding television, it relied on in-jokes, it needed the characters created by Bruce and Isla and Larry and Jim. Give them a proper run – six or eight episodes – and Mel and Sue can find their groove and click with the show.

Or do something very different: Don't Hate the Playaz on ITV2 was built around rap and hip-hop music, and proved the best new panel show of the year. Keep up with a breakdancer, or smuggle film titles into a rap, and the show ends with a group sing-along — well, a rap-along. Much more fun than we dared hope it could be.


By a clear margin, Welsh-language station S4C is this column's channel of the year. We've watched more new shows here than anywhere else, and we've already waxed lyrical about both Prosiect Z and Chwilio am Seren. We don't miss an episode of Celwydd Noeth, and it's an event when a pair gets to the final question for the £10,000 jackpot.

As the general entertainment channel for all things in Welsh, S4C has to offer a broad mixture of content. So we've had straight-laced sports quiz Y Ras and boozy darts quiz Oci Oci Oci!, both were great shows with a little headroom to improve. We had outdoors reality show Dianc, which dug its own grave with an aggressive introduction speech.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! Sit down and talk all you like.

There was cooking contest Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?!, where the team captain would sit out if anyone on the team made a mistake. Fferm Ffactor returned for a short celebrity edition, and there were new runs of children's shows Pigo dy Drwyn and Y Gemau Gwyllt.

Remembered this year...

A short selection of people who passed away during 2018.

  • Katie Boyle – entertainment host and panelist
  • Lys Assia – first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
  • Jim Bowen – Bullseye host
  • Dale Winton – Supermarket Sweep host
  • Matt Campbell – Masterchef The Professionals star
  • John Julius Norwich – Round Britain Quiz doyenne
  • Anthony Bourdain – The Taste critic
  • Paddy Feeny – Top of the Form host
  • Leslie Grantham – Fort Boyard baddie
  • Barry Chuckle – To Me To You co-host
  • Denis Norden – raconteur and panelist

Any other business

Podcast of the Year is Fingers on Buzzers. Lucy Porter (comedian, and very funny) teams up with Jenny Ryan (you'll know her from The Chase) to talk about quiz, mostly television quizzes. There are interviews with contestants and show-makers, there's a regular quiz between the hosts. And Jenny talks Lucy through elements of the "quiz syllabus", topics that come up a lot on pub quizzes. The style is bright and cheerful, and the mixed bag of topics means there's something for everyone. That's http://www.fingersonbuzzers.com.

Cheap Cheap Cheap Little Noely? What's he doing here?!

Article of the Year came from the Dirty Feed blog. It's an exploration of Noel Edmonds' flop Channel 4 show Cheap Cheap Cheap. We cannot do it justice with a summary, so we'll just point to the whole article: http://www.dirtyfeed.org/2018/09/cheap-cheap-cheap/

Year of the Year was Blue Peter marking its 60th birthday. The celebrations began in January, and hit their high-point on 16 October, the actual anniversary, with an hour-long light entertainment special. How to make everything from your grandmother's life relevant to the curious nine-year-old? Plenty of archive clippage, how things have changed and how things have stayed the same. Get old presenters to attempt a classic make, have one of the presenter's daughters sing for us. Have Radzi go on a ship, and send Lindsey up in a floating chair. And then, next week, make an even better show.

Food of the Year Everyone should go to Amsterdam at some point. Not just for the DASH puzzle hunt, not just for the tourist attractions, not just for the ambience and the canals, but for the food. This column's best meal was from the Vegan Junk Food Bar, a not!chicken burger and the crunchiest fries we've tasted in years. Must do it again some time. Locaties en menu's: http://www.veganjunkfoodbar.com/

Downloadable Art Installation of the Year Perfection by Yasmin Curren, Tiffany Derbyshire, and Tabitha Beresford-Owen. A first-person psychological click-through that taps into humanity's insecurities. We're putting this in the same class as a short piece of immersive theatre, the developers putting out the building blocks for each member of the audience to build their own show. (The developers call it "horror" for a couple of jump scares, so be warned.) Runs on your computer, from http://yagmanx.itch.io/perfection

Achievement Unlocked of the Year Wham!ageddon; this column avoided the 1984 release by George and Andrew, and we didn't fly halfway round the world to do so. Next year's challenge is to be played at a much easier level – no-one will ever play Ladbaby's download after — well, last Tuesday, apparently.

The ratings story

(If you'd rather skip to the Roll of Honour, be our guest.)

Ratings only ever measure part of a programme's success. Raw numbers tell us how many people watched, but not how many people enjoyed the show, or the effect a programme has had on lives or the greater culture.

Nevertheless, we can crunch the numbers and present the most popular shows of the year. We include people who watched live, or within 7 days of transmission, and include +1 and HD channels where appropriate. Changes from 17 September mean these figures include people who watched over the internet, and go somewhat deeper for many channels. We'll only list one entry per title, the most popular over the year.

Ratings figures are in thousands, so I'm a Celebrity has a peak rating of 14.168 million - or 14,168,000.


I'm a Celebrity (first) 18-Nov 14168
This Territory's Got Talent 28-Apr 11180
Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (first) 24-Feb 8970
I'm a Celebrity Coming Out 12-Dec 8747
Dancing on Ice (first) 07-Jan 8560
The X Factor (first) 01-Sep 7230
BBC The Voice of This Territory 20-Jan 6600
Who Wants to be a Millionaire (first) 05-May 6100
The Chase Celebrity Specials (first) 14-Oct 5094
Catchphrase (I'm a Celeb) 09-Dec 5058
The Chase The Bloopers 23-Dec 4804
The Chase 03-Jan 4520
Brightest Family (first) 10-Jan 4290
Ninja Warrior (first) 14-Apr 4070
Take Me Out (first) 06-Jan 3980
Through the Keyhole 20-Jan 3920
What Would Your Kid Do? (first) 06-Feb 3860
BBC The Voice of This Territory Kids 16-Jul 3730
Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule (first) 14-Apr 3600
Tipping Point 01-Mar 3130
This Time Next Year 24-Apr 3110
The Big Quiz (2) 05-Jan 3100
Tipping Point Lucky Stars 29-Dec 3075
Big Star's Little Star 11-Aug 3000
5 Gold Rings 07-Oct 2975
Five Gold Rings 16-Sep 2710
Big Star's Bigger Star (first) 15-Dec 2323
Re-Play 2018 with Richard Osman 28-Dec 2227
Change Your Tune (first) 01-Apr 1950
The Imitation Game (pre-watershed) 14-Dec 1915
The Imitation Game (first) 02-Sep 1590
Tenable 06-Mar 1120

I'm a Celebrity was the biggest game show of the year, 11 million or more each night through its run. Got Talent and Takeaway demonstrated how much we love Ant and Dec. Two vintage talent shows returned but trended downwards.


Strictly Come Dancing (final) 15-Dec 12995
Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show 08-Sep 9180
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 25-Dec 7557
Eurovision Song Contest (final) 12-May 7010
Masterchef (final) 13-Mar 6090
The Generation Game (first) 01-Apr 5890
Pointless Celebrities 01-Dec 5545
Strictly The Best 15-Sep 5540
Have I Got News for You 13-Mar 5510
Celebrity Masterchef (first) 23-Aug 4970
Would I Lie to You 19-Jan 4950
Sir Bruce A Celebration 11-Mar 4740
Celebrity Mastermind 04-Jan 4380
A Question of Sport 01-Jul 4110
All Together Now 03-Mar 4030
Pointless 28-Dec 3908
Who Dares Wins (first) 24-Mar 3680
University Challenge Boat Races 24-Mar 3640
The Big Painting Challenge 22-Apr 3430
Best Home Cook (first) 03-May 3340
For Facts Sake (first) 15-Oct 2362

Strictly brought 10 million to BBC1 every Saturday night, and a recap of the show's history just misses the top five.


Masterchef The Professionals (final) 20-Dec 3684
Dragons' Den 26-Aug 3320
Masterchef The Professionals Rematch 27-Dec 2826
Mastermind (Children in Need special) 16-Nov 2770
University Challenge (final) 23-Apr 2720
Christmas University Challenge 02-Jan 2600
Only Connect 19-Nov 2560
Great Local Menu 10-Oct 2499
Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two 12-Nov 2435
Mastermind 12-Jan, 19-Jan 2200
Mock the Week 21-Sep 1890
Antiques Road Trip 27-Nov 1800
QI 05-Jan 1790
Monkman and Seagull's Genius Guide (first) 17-Sep 1720
QI XL 12-Jan 1670
Eggheads 19-Jan 1390
Bargain Hunt 10-Apr 1370
Richard Osman's House of Games 05-Dec 1368
Motty Mastermind 19-May 1250
Family Cooking Showdown 23-Oct 1245
Celebrity Eggheads 28-Aug 1240
Letterbox 17-Oct 1040
Insert Name Here (Christmas) 19-Dec 1040
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 06-Sep 1000
I'll Get This (first) 06-Nov 923
Best Junior Doctors 26-Jun 760
Curious Creatures 21-Jun 760
Gareth Malone's All Star Music Quiz 27-Sep 731

A mixed bag for BBC2, the most popular game is a cookery spinoff.

Channel 4

The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off (final) 30-Oct 10339
The Grate Minor Celebrity Breadxit Burn-Off (first) 20-Mar 5680
The Grate Festive Burn-Off 25-Dec 3904
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 26-Dec 3717
Celebrity Hunted 30-Oct 3377
Hunted 11-Jan 2860
SAS Who Dares Wins (first) 07-Jan 2700
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off An Extra Sic (final) 02-Nov 2441
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off Crème de la Crème 20-May 2290
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 02-Feb 2260
Lego Masters (first) 06-Nov 1942
The Big Fat Quiz of Everything 12-Jan 1940
The Crystal Maze (celeb, Christmas) 26-Dec 1759
The Crystal Maze (civilian, first) 15-Apr 1580
The Circle (first) 18-Sep 1490
Village of the Year 20-Jan 1420
Four in a Bed 02-Mar 1260
Come Dine with Me 03-Jan 790
8 Out of 10 Cats 09-Mar 780
Star Boot Sale (first) 19-Mar 730
I Don't Like Mondays (first) 06-Apr 710
Countdown 02-Jan 650
Buy It Now 25-Apr 620
The £100k Drop 20-Jun 602

Channel 4 relies on its baking tent, and to a lesser extent on its missing persons. While Catsdown remains a success, we reckon Countdown is secure. Lego Masters just about held interest, but may have reached its build-by date.

Channel 5

Celebrity Big Brother (first) 16-Aug 2510
World's Strongest Man (final) 01-Jan 1750
The Great Model Railway Challenge 09-Nov 1318
Big Brother (first) 14-Sep 1250
Blind Date 11-Aug 1150
Gino's Win Your Wish List (first) 28-Jul 930
When Game Shows Go Horribly Wrong (rpt) 28-Jul 810
When Eurovision Goes Horribly Wrong 06-May 800
Celebrity Game Night 30-Dec 788
Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side 05-Jan, 16-Aug 740
Regional Strongest Man (first) 27-Nov 736
Celebrity Big Brother Behind the Scenes 24-Jan 720
Big Brother's Bit on the Side (first) 14-Sep 480
Eurovision Greatest Moments 06-May 470
Lip Sync Battle 16-Mar 450

Channel 5's top game came with an argument in the Celebrity Big Brother studio.


Love Island 08-Jul 4455
Love Island The Reunion 05-Aug 2596
Love Island The Christmas Reunion 17-Dec 2496
Love Island Aftersun 08-Jul 2176
I'm a Celebrity Extra Camp (final) 09-Dec 2011
Celebrity Juice 12-Apr 1194
This Territory's Got More Talent (first) 14-Apr 1063
Survival of the Fittest (first) 11-Feb 1045
Release the Hounds 18-Jan 714
Celebability (first) 20-Jun 623
Hell's Kitchen 21-Mar 511
This Territory's Got Talent (repeat) 29-Apr 496
I'm a Celebrity (repeat) 08-Dec 483
Catchphrase 24-Dec 438
This Territory's Got Talent (compilations) 25-Mar 378
Take Me Out 05-Jan 365
The X Factor 14-Oct 326
I'm a Celebrity Coming Out (repeat) 16-Dec 237
Don't Hate the Playaz 01-Nov 236

A hot summer, Love Island, ITV2 was in heaven this year. Celebrity Juice is cooling from its heights, but a million viewers each week is still massive.


Taskmaster (first) 02-May 1238
Would I Lie to You 03-Mar 497
Go 8 Bit 12-Feb 389
Have I Got a Bit More News for You 21-Jan 360
Room 101 20-Mar 353
QI XL 14-Jan 330
QI 17-Oct 325
Mock the Week 23-Jun 304
Beat the Internet with John Robins 06-Dec 103

Dave is the last channel to pull a million viewers with a single show, its commission Taskmaster is perhaps not winning many new viewers.


The Wave (first) 15-Jan 980
Masterchef Down Under 31-Aug 278
Masterchef Junior Us 20-Mar 261
Masterchef Us 27-Feb 235
Tipping Point 13-Jan 212
The Great Local Bake Off 18-Jan 102

Trend for The Wave was downwards at a rate of knots. W is the top pay-tv channel, not available without a cable or satellite subscription.

The Satellite Channel

A League of Their Own (first) 30-Aug 909
The Heist (first) 09-Nov 386
Carnage (first) 13-May 364
Revolution 15-Apr 230
Duck Quacks Don't Echo 18-Jan 155
Portrait Artist of the Year (first) 21-Jan 126

The Heist was a Hunted clone mixed with a bank robbery. This is another pay-tv channel.


Five Star Hotel (first) 12-Mar 618
Coach Trip Road to Tenerife (first) 08-Jan 526
The Grate Minor Celebrity Breadxit Burn-Off (first) 10-Mar 416
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off (first) 01-Sep 346
8 Out of 10 Cats 02-Jan 309
The Crystal Maze (celeb) 05-Jan 281

Cheap reality shows do well on E4; Five Star Hotel was a tonic in very cold weather.


Eurovision Song Contest (semi-final) 10-May 563
Christmas University Challenge 06-Dec 520
Young Musician (first) 06-Apr 328
Eurovision at 60 11-May 327
Young Jazz Musician 25-Nov 133
How Quizzing Got Cool 14-Nov 58


Celebrity Big Brother 20-Jan 557

The episode premiered on 5* at 9pm, repeated on Channel 5 after midnight.


Four in a Bed 21-Jan 551
Come Dine with Me 20-Jan 430
The Grate Festive Burn-Off 16-Dec 415
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 18-Mar 348
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off Crème de la Crème 19-May 162


Yankee Next Top Model 02-Mar 499
My Kitchen Rules Down Under 17-Sep 217
My Kitchen Rules Southern Africa 21-Sep 60

Changes in programme policy mean that UK Living is now KY Witless, still pay-tv, and won't show games.


Portrait Artist of the Year 27-Feb 445
Landscape Artist of the Year 27-Nov 303
Master of Photography (first) 29-May 150
Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 18-Dec 138
Portrait Artist of the Year 2017 14-Jan 87

There's a loyal audience for these painting shows. Another pay-tv channel.


Love Island Down Under (first) 13-Aug 381
Dinner Date 02-May, 12-Aug 146
Dress to Impress 17-Apr 101


True Love or True Lies 07-Aug 344
Celebrity Big Brother 26-Aug 72
Big Brother 16-Oct 64
Lip Sync Battle 01-Jun 49
Fear Factor 30-Aug 46
Wipe Us Out 06-Oct 21
Refreshers Week 26-Sep 17

A pay-tv channel from the same owners as Channel 5.


The Chase Celebrity Specials 01-Feb 328
Football Genius 09-Oct 133

Comedy Central

Your Face or Mine 21-Nov 313
Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars 09-Mar 245
Lip Sync Battle 10-Mar 149
The Chris Ramsey Show 21-Mar 148
8 Out of 10 Cats 08-Jan 128
Takeshi's Castle 01-Mar 126

A pay-tv channel from the same owners as Channel 5. We're surprised Your Face or Mine hasn't jumped to free tv.


Antiques Road Trip 11-May 307
The Great Local Bake Off 01-Jan 177
Tipping Point 25-Oct 119
Bargain Hunt 15-Oct 80


World's Strongest Man The Winners 01-Jan 288
World's Strongest Man 27-Dec 150


The Chase 04-Feb 272
Bullseye 25-Mar 267
Who Wants to be a Millionaire 06-Jun 257
Catchphrase 25-Oct 147
The Cube 10-Mar 143
Blankety Blank 06-Oct 132
Pointless 20-Nov 131
Price is Right 13-Oct 120
Wheel of Fortune 25-Oct 115
Strike it Lucky 07-Oct 111
Family Fortunes 20-Oct 109
Who Dares Wins 01-Dec 102
Take Your Pick 02-Dec 84
Ninja Warrior Yankee 14-Oct, 18-Nov 82
Deal or No Deal 31-Oct 81
Robot Wars 21-Nov 69


Sam and Mark's Big Friday Wind Up 23-Feb 258
Horrible Histories Gory Games 30-Nov 194
The Dog Ate My Homework 19-Feb 175
Last Commanders 03-Apr 173
Remotely Funny 01-Apr 168
Got What It Takes? 15-Oct 160
Raven 11-Jun 146
Top Class (celebs) 11-Nov 142
Match of the Day Can You Kick It 23-Nov 129
Copycats 26-Dec 87


Swashbuckle 27-Dec 246


The Grate Celeb Burn-Off (first) 07-Mar 193
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off 12-Sep 175
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 03-Mar 136
Come Dine with Me 02-Apr 130
The Grate Festive Burn-Off 02-Jan 128
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off Crème de la Crème (first) 07-May 116
Four in a Bed 07-Oct 115
Celebrity Hunted (first) 16-Oct 105
Hunted 19-Jan 100
Big Fat Quiz of the Year 29-Dec 98
Lego Masters (first) 07-Nov 82
The Grate Breadxit Burn-Off Extra Sic 19-Oct 74


Spy School 14-Jan 167
Ben 10 Ultimate Challenge 24-Nov 115


Bargain Hunt 29-Apr 144
Masterchef Yankee 21-Jun, 16-Jul 104
The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 26-Dec 120
Junior Bake Off 04-Dec 99
Masterchef Down Under 12-Apr, 20-Apr 99


Bigg Boss 21-Sep 138
India's Got Talent 17-Nov 78
Rising Star 18-Mar 74

An Indian pay-tv channel, showing imports from India.


Project Runway 15-Mar 127
This Territory's Next Top Model 13-Aug 35


Paradise Run 24-Jul 119
Double Dare 28-Oct 87
Lip Sync Battle 17-Dec 27

All shows are from Nickelodeon's US branch, cut to remove commercial sponsorships.


8 Out of 10 Cats 09-Dec 116

Good Food

The Great Local Bake Off 18-Jul 79
The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 25-Aug 70
Masterchef 23-Aug 51
Masterchef The Professionals 05-Apr 44


World's Strongest Man 09-Jan 67
Blind Date 27-Dec 51
When Game Shows Go Horribly Wrong 27-Dec 48

Food Network

Great Local Menu 25-Jan 62


Lip Sync Battle 16-Jun 43
Face Value 06-Jan 16


The Voice Kids (India) 20-Jan 40

Another channel showing entertainment from India.


Rupaul's Drag Race 02-Nov 37
Lip Sync Battle 02-Jun 31

BT Sport 2

Call Yourself a Fan 18-Sep 36

The subscription channel showed a quiz-chat hybrid straight after its European football coverage.

Community Channel

Couples Come Dine with Me 17-Jun 25


Celwydd Noeth 14-Nov 20
Junior Eurovision (final) 25-Nov 20
Y Ras 21-Sep 20
Chwilio am Seren Junior Eurovision (first) 25-Sep 19
Sion a Sian 25-Oct 12
Pigo dy Drwyn 22-Sep 10
Prosiect Z 13-Nov 10

Roll of Honour

(All results as transmitted are final)

Christmas University Challenge – Keble Oxford (Paul Johnson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Katy Brand, Anne-Marie Imafidon)
University Challenge – St John's Cambridge (John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, James Devine-Stoneman, Matt Hazell)

Round Britain Quiz – Myfanwy Alexander and David Edwards

Celebrity Big Brother
(January) – Courtney Act
(August) – Ryan Thomas
Big Brother – Cameron Cole

Eurovision: You Decide – "Storm", written and composed by Nicole Blair, Gil Lewis, Sean Hargreaves, performed by SuRie

Cân i Gymru – "Cofio Hedd Wyn", written by Erfyl Owen, performed by Ceidwad y Gân

Survival of the Fittest – Mettisse Campbell

All Together Now – Michael Rice

Dancing on Ice – Jake Quickenden and Vanessa Bauer

Portrait Artist of the Year – Samira Addo
Landscape Artist of the Year – Jen Gash

This Territory's Got Talent
(TV3) – RDC
(ITV) – Lost Voice Man

RTE Dancing With the Stars – Jake Carter and Karen Byrne
Strictly Come Dancing
Series – Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton
Christmas – Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara

Fiteach – Tamgar
Raven – Sotteo

Mastermind – Brian Chesney

BBC The Voice of Holland of This Territory – Ruti Olajugbagbe
BBC The Voice of Holland of This Territory Kids – Daniel Davies

Masterchef – Kenny Tutt
Celebrity Masterchef – John Partridge
Masterchef The Professionals – Laurence Henry

Got What It Takes?
(Apr) – Rio Leanna
(Nov) – Lauren

Band Cymru – Cory Band
Ieuctnydd – Band Jazz Ysgol Tryfan

Brightest Family – Curtis Family (Alex, Chris, Brendan)

Only Connect – Escapologists (Frank Paul, Lydia Mizon, Tom Rowell)

The Big Painting Challenge – Oliver Freeston

Eurovision Song Contest – "Toy" for IPBC, written by Stav Beger & Doron Medalie, performed by Netta Barzilai
Eurovision Young Musician – Ivan Bessonov (piano)
Junior Eurovision – "Anyone I want to be" for TVP, lyric by Maegan Cottone, Nathan Duvall, Cutfather, Peter Wallevik, Daniel Davidsen, Malgorzata Uscilowska, Patryk Kumór; composed by Maegan Cottone, Nathan Duvall, Cutfather, Peter Wallevik, Daniel Davidsen; performed by Roksana Wegiel

BBC Young Musician – Lauren Zhang (piano)
BBC Young Jazz Musician – Xhosa Cole

Fighting Talk – Richard Osman

Ninja Warrior – no winner

Best Home Cook – Pippa Middlehurst

Revolution – Alex Dechuna (skateboarder)

Carnage – Hellraiser

Brain of Britain – Clive Dunning

(June) – Zarte Siempre
(December) – Mike Daysley

Bake Off Crème de la Crème – Sam and Emmanuel from London Hilton Park Lane

Rostrum Camera – Ken Morse

(spring) – Liza Tarbuck
(autumn) – Kerry Godliman

Master of Photography – Federica Belli

Love Island – Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham

BBC New Comedy Award – Stuart Buchanan

True Love or True Lies – Liv and Louis

One Man and His Dog
Young Handler – Murray Common & Queen
Brace – Ricky Hutchinson & Jock & Moya
Team – Murray Common & Queen / Bobby Henderson & Bonnie & Tweed (as "Scotland")

Chwilio i Seren Junior Eurovision – Manw

Great Local Menu – James Cochran

Refreshers Week – Gareth

Celwydd Noeth – Bethan and Llyr

Y Ras – Ifan Gwilym

Counterpoint – David Sherman

The Grate Breadxit Burn Out – Rahul Mandal

Top Class – Cardwell Primary from London

The Big Family Cooking Showdown – Mitesh, Prachi and Anup Mistry

The X Factor – Dalton Harris and Simon Cowell

Lego Masters – Paul and Lewis

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – Harry Redknapp

Match of the Day Can You Kick It? – Will

Fifteen-to-One – Ryland Morgan

Coming up...

Intellectual pursuits early on New Year's Eve, the return of Round Britain Quiz (Radio 4), and David "Lenin" Aaronovitch is back on Christmas University Challenge (BBC2). By 3am, we'll be fit only for The Crystal Maze (C4, repeated). Same procedure as every year (Artsworld).

New Year's Day has the traditional highlights: World's Strongest Man (C5), Bake Off (C4), and a new run of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (ITV).

From Wednesday, we have Countdown Championship of Champions (C4) and the first new episodes of Eggheads in some months (BBC2). For Friday, Channel 4 gives us The Big Fat Quiz of Everything.

On Saturday, The Greatest Dancer starts on BBC1, and at least one element looks suspiciously familiar. ITV has new runs of BBC The Voice (Sat) and Dancing on Ice (Sun). SAS: Who Dares Wins does its thing on Channel 4 from Sunday, while Hunted returns from Thursday 10th.

The Week doesn't expect to publish again until 13 January, simply because there's not been much to talk about over Christmas. We wish you all the best for the start of the new year, and propose a toast: Good games to you!

Photo credits: Hat Trick Productions, Avalon Television, Boom Cymru Plant, Zodiak Kids, KEO films, Remarkable (part of EndemolShine group), STV, Mighty, Bandicoot, Vice Studios, Gameface, Panda Television / Objective Media Group Scotland, Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group, BTRC / EBU, TwoFour (an ITV Studios company), Remedy Scotland and Argonon, Rondo.

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