Poll of the Year 2014

Image:Square Vote.jpg
It’s the New Year, and that means it’s time to test the game show waters with you: the reading public once again, with the UKGameshows.com/Bother’s Bar Poll of 2014!

There are some slight changes this year – we weren’t happy with the International category (although we still encourage you to tell us what we should be watching if we haven’t covered it already), and a slight change in eligibility criteria so that shows that had broadcast pilots in 2013 that went on to have full series in 2014, with everything learned from those pilots, are in. This rule is unusual in that it rarely happens but seemed to happen to a few decently notable shows last year, we’ll be keeping an eye out and changing for next year as we see fit.


Hall of FAME 2014

If the reaction to the 2013 list was a large "meh", the 2014 doesn't seemed to have fared much better in truth - in fact you voted for one less show this year than last at 33. Or 34 if we counted votes for Pointless (thanks Osmaniacs!). Anyway vote for them you did, and as ever here is a quick run down of the bottom half of the top ten with your comments on the top five or so.

10= Reflex, The Singer Takes it All

8= Draw It!, The Guess List

7- The 21st Question

5= Fifteen-to-One, Win Your Wish List

Both of these shows quite interesting, Fifteen-to-One making a second appearance thanks to our new rule that a show that got a broadcast pilot the previous year ought to get another go the following year after seeing how it's changed with regards to a full series - a rule that has applied to only two shows to our knowledge in the entirety of our ten years of us doing this, and both of them in the same year, if you feel it has aggrieved you you have our permission to mentally remove them from the list.

Win Your Wish List sneaks onto the list with its first episode being broadcast in the final week of 2014 and is probably the latest broadcast show ever to break our top five, although there were two other episodes broadcast during the voting window.

On Fifteen-to-One you said:

  • "It's slower-paced than the original but doesn't feel too slow, and the overall difficulty level is about right - enjoyable enough, and a far better vehicle for Sandi Toksvig than that dreadful 1001 Things You Should Know."
  • "A better set than previous, and with no twists, gimmicks or stunt additions to the original format, it was good to see it back - even if the title did become an omminus prediction of the viewing figures as the series wore on."
  • "It was nowhere near as good as the William G. Stewart era, and the question difficulty seemed to vary a lot but perhaps just for nostalgic value I found myself watching a lot of the series (even though no-one else seemed to)."
  • "While I appreciate it's not a patch on the original, it's still quite pleasant to have a programme so question-dense on our screens."

And on Win Your Wish List you said:

  • "Neat mechanics and avoids the usual clichés. Just needs to pick up the pace."
  • "Hard to judge from just the first episode, but it ran smoothly and seemed quite entertaining. (The constant, redundant requests to confirm "who is asking" and "who is answering" became very tedious, though. I guess the host doesn't have much else to do!)"
  • "A simple but solid format where all of the elements mesh together. Shane is on form and well-suited as host, it has a clean visual style and the quiz rounds are consistently engaging."
  • "Nice concept of having the partner read the questions, similar with the instant wins/losses. Shame there are only two “rounds” but a solid lottery quizzer and a rarity for a show so late in the year to get a vote but I’m not sure if that says more about the show or the year, really!"

4- Ejector Seat

It was the one they all wanted but it was Endemol and ITV that bought Andi Peters back to afternoon television with his tactical-quiz-cum-rubbish-fairground-ride.

  • "In what I found to be a substandard year in game shows, Ejector Seat filled its slick studio with a timer-based quiz except turned into a large board game of sorts, and I hope it returns for 2015."
  • "Ejections could have been smoother (like Graham Norton) but fun concept."
  • "An enjoyable watch. Not revolutionary, but did many things right, and lead to some genuinely tense moments."
  • "The mechanics were good, the show was fun, Andi Peters was much better than expected, and it's probably not going to get a recommission, which is unjust."

3- Release the Hounds

The second of our returnees, Release the Hounds was a promising idea at pilot stage that didn't really fulfill its potential and but seemed to learn a lot of lessons and in 2014 became a rather grotesque butterfly, one that makes the sound of Reggie Yates trying and failing not to laugh at contestants' discomfort as it beats its wings. Not without it's flaws, we're hoping for an even better series in 2015.

  • "Still think the host is the weak link, but it is finding it's cold, clammy feet."
  • "I was thrilled to see this go to series, and wasn't let down. The most entertaining new show I've seen in some time."
  • "I know, I'm biassed, but this gets votes for two reasons. One, it is genuinely compelling, twitter exploding, heart-stopping viewing. Two, they listened to the fans, and made changes for the Christmas Special."
  • "One of the best, most immersive gameshows since The Crystal Maze - well-paced, well-shot games which clearly had time and effort taken on them, and first-class hosting - Reggie Yates getting it absolutely right. Been great to see confidence in the format, from ITV and internationally. Praise ITVBe for freeing up ITV2 slots for this fine show."
  • "This is what ITV2 Should Be Doing. Well-produced, alternately funny and genuinely scary, knows just how far it can push its contestants. Doubt it has the mileage of some of the other shows from this year, and it doesn't have the cult potential of, say, a Crystal Maze, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're still sharing clips from it in a decade."
  • "Its cruelty at its finest and it is hilarious."

2- The Link

STAND BY. Ooh, now. We have a list of problems with this show as long as our arm and as such we're not sure we can quite agree with its high placing frankly (although we think it's a decent concept at heart, and thought so when it formed the basis of Connections in the 1980s), but Mark Williams was doing good business in its afternoon slot and is definitely coming back in 2015.

  • "This is a fun, and not-too-flawed little quiz. I don't mind Mark Williams as a host and with a bit of tweaking this could be really good."
  • ""Connect-O-Spot" actually turned out to be quite pleasant to watch and play along. The final round is a nice novelty, but hard to win, and whoever wins only gains a pittance."
  • "Only Connect lite it may be, and the show certainly drags a little, but I thought it was quite fun."
  • "OK, so Mark Williams doesn't quite suit as a host, sir, and us lot will doubtless try to make an inevitably negative link with Only Connect, or gripe needlessly about the prize levels, but in isolation The Link is a smart, simple enough game for those around in the daytime..."
  • "Yes, Mark Williams can host a game show. More of him please."

1- Two Tribes

Well this wasn't even close - in fact it had two-and-a-half times the amount of votes The Link received. A simple general knowledge quiz at heart but with a comedy personality element seemingly designed to allow Richard Osman to shine as Witty Banter Master-in-Chief, Two Tribes is your favourite new show of 2014.

  • "Great in every way. Richard Osman makes this show entertaining, and the contestant chatter actually works in the show."
  • "Fast paced quizzing - love it. Prize was awful but that's changing for S2."
  • "Hosted with not a little skill. Being quiz master and banter meister can't be easy."
  • "Really enjoyed this show. Enjoyed getting to know the contestants through the Yes and No answers and watch anything with Richard Osman. Looking forward to a second series in 2015."
  • "I'm all for formats that move away from the dark and intense post-WWTBAM era. Two Tribes is a great lighthearted show and its tribes mechanism is a fun way to get the contestant chat."
  • "By no means the finished article but passes the lots of questions test. Eggheads should be worried if this gets adopted by the Osmaniacs."
  • "This had everything. An easy to follow format. A fast paced quiz delivery, a host who wanted the contestants to have fun - and not afraid to indulge in some 'no harm intended' gentle ribbing of them when required.Throw in a non-distracting set, and a end game where someone actually wins a prize and you had a very competent teatime quiz."
  • "I wouldn't go so far as to say this is perfect, but this is a very welcome addition. Manages to be both a good quiz with fun mechanics and an enjoyable half hour of television. This voter finds almost everything too slow (Twitter-addled millennial, bah) but thought the pace of this was on point. A slightly more imaginative final two rounds would round out the package nicely. Look forward to it running for years."

Hall of SHAME 2014

This is certainly the closest vote this year, thanks in part to many people opting not to vent their ire and vote in it. But many of you did and in total 34 shows received at least a vote, of which the ones you most loved to hate were:

9= Win It, Cook It, The Taste

8- Celebrity Squares

7- Ejector Seat

6- The 21st Question

5- The Jump

Davina and celebrity chums go winter-sporting in Innsbruck, the winner being the person who doesn't come back injured. People performing worst in the sporting challenges forced to undergo... The Jump (or hilariously not in Amy Childs' case). Amazingly they've found a company who is willing to insure more celebs for series two, of which three have already been injured in training at time of writing.

  • "All sizzle, no sausage."
  • "All we wanted was to see someone snowball down the hill. Is that too much to ask?"
  • "The Jump was actually good in places, and would probably have made the Hall of Fame, had the eponymous jumps, ALL SERIES LONG, not been so utterly pathetic to as made the whole ridiculous."
  • "The world didn't really need another weak reality show where slightly famous people fling themselves into daft challenges. A desperate Channel 4, keen to regain Big Brother-era levels of viewership, gave us one anyway. A recommission suggests a lack of any better ideas. Benefits Street may have been hateful, vile programming, but at least people watched it..."
  • "It simply must be stopped before it manages to incapacitate all of our D-listers. How will other reality shows cope?"

3= Revenge of the Egghead, Gift Wrapped

Well 12 Yard appear to be the gift that keeps on giving.

On Revenge of the Egghead you said:

  • "Utterly bizarre, even down to the title. I found it even duller than the parent programme, which is saying something."
  • "People can see through an act. After having seen CJ move away from his villain role on Eggheads, it was wearisome to see him return to it in such a forced manner. The format here was near non-existent."
  • "If it had some revenge in it, it might have been good but with just CJ it didn't really work and the endgame just reminded me of The Chase."
  • "CJ's 'acting', Jeremy Vine's hosting, stealing ideas from existing quiz shows. Nothing about this show was any good. I'd give it all five votes if I could."
  • "Much like Face the Clock last year, "Revenge" gets a vote for the title not matching the format. With a title like that, CJ should be rampaging over Tokyo, not participating in a low-budget knockoff of The Chase."
  • "Like The Chase, but terrible."

And on Gift Wrapped:

  • "Few hits (Round 3), many misses. 12 Yard wasted a format."
  • "A rushed together production that wasn't a particularly enjoyable watch. Eamonn Holmes is my least favourite host as well."
  • "Whilst the constant-chosen prizes was an nice touch, the hosts looked bored, the constants looked bored, and this is surely down to the fact the entire game was boring. Oh, and I was bored too."
  • "I honestly don't think there was a single redeeming feature to this show: dead atmosphere, consistently dull contestants, horrible sound effects and graphics and rubbish prizes. I really don't think it was criticised enough."
  • "The only thing I remember about Gift Wrapped was promising myself that I'd vote for it in the Hall of Shame at year's end, which says something in itself about the quality of the show."

2- Reflex

A show about doing things fast but boringly slowly from the people behind The Cube, viewers were very quick to turn this off. It's certainly graphically impressive though, so makes the UKGameshows List of Interesting Failures at least. Writing probably on the wall when it sat on a shelf for the best part of a year.

  • "So very very pretty, but with no substance. A nice idea but poorly formatted and executed."
  • "Now. The USP of The Cube was the occasional super slow-mo's and timeslice angles. Used in this show sparingly it adds a lot to the overall production. However, to make an entire series of this, was always going to be hard work - and it was. Games that involved smashing things, or stopping water squirts are ok to watch a couple of times max - but tire very quickly after that. And seeing the same thing being broken slowly on three different angles gets very boring..fast - which ironically is the exact opposite of the point of the whole show."
  • "Not a great watch despite Shane Richie's commendable hosting and Ken Bruce's 'hilarious' commentary."
  • "There might, perhaps, be a half-decent round of a larger gameshow in this idea. This, though, stretched that one notion far too far. The tone was weird, with a feeling that the show Shane thought he was hosting was wildly different from the show Ken thought he was commenting on."
  • "The ultimate in drawn-out television. The visual effects were excellent and for that praise is undoubtedly due. The production team obviously felt that a commentary was needed which in truth it was as otherwise we’re just watching something happen incredibly slowly – on the other hand they realised we don’t really need a descriptive commentary as we can all see what’s happening as it’s happening so slowly – so they went for a “funny” commentary which also failed as it wasn’t funny partly because we weren’t watching anything inherently funny in the first place. Format-wise – there are 5 points up for grabs in the first 4 games then suddenly as many as 14 points available for the quiz which is visually the weakest bit – not great."
  • "Not awful so much as very annoying: it could actually have been ok, but Ken Bruce. And I generally like Ken Bruce."

1- Tumble

Very close between this and Reflex, we think calling this the worst new show of 2014 is a bit harsh although we certainly accept it's rather (well, very) derivative. Strictly Come Gymnastics is your least favourite new show of the year.

  • "A show where the celebs take the risk but the format didn't."
  • "Just not interesting enough for Saturday evening television."
  • "More padding in this show than in the crash mats. I love gymnastics, I love circus, I dislike filler - and that won out."
  • "Yet another bland show which Z-listers take part in purely for the money."
  • "A foolish commission. As unsuccessful as it was unimaginative."
  • "Tried to combine a Strictly-style show and Gymnastics and failed by being neither particularly well. In particular had minimal content you would traditionally associate with artistic gymnastics bar the anti-climactic Vault."
  • "This irritates me, because on paper, I think there's something worthwhile here. I'm reminded of rather liking The Games various disciplines and that had a perfectly enjoyable gymnastics round. I think making it more of a dance-show-with-equipment than a pure gymnastics performance was ultimately to its detriment."

The UKGameshows.com Golden Five for 2014

As ever we save our biggest award for last as it is open to any show that had a new episode broadcast in the UK in 2014. For long term readers this is quite fun as shows tend to have a trajectory. What's rising and falling this year? 56 different shows got nods.

5- The Great British Bake Off

Now this is really interesting, it's been bubbling under for a few years but this is the first time it has made it into the top five after a hugely successful move from BBC2 to BBC1 and someone taking some baked alaska out of a fridge becoming front page news. If you had said ten-fifteen years ago Mel and Sue would be hosting the biggest show on British television they'd have locked you up, but it is THEY who should be locked up because this is, as it turns out, exactly what has happened. Incredible scenes.

  • "Think this was the best series yet some great bakes and some talking points as well. Goes from strength to strength and can see it going better in 2015."
  • "Bake Off was great entertainment - I thought Diana was treated horribly in the edit and the final round felt engineered in favour of the winner. But it was still great entertainment both on and off the programme (see favourite moments below)."
  • "who would think that cooking in a marquee would be so much fun? Mel & Sue are perfect as hosts, the challenges were well thought out and it still stands head and shoulders above all the other cooking programs."
  • "For me, Bake Off is a show that benefits from understanding itself and its audience so very well that it makes very high quality television even if (like me) you have no specific interest in the subject."
  • "Incredible viewing figures for such a simple show that's very well executed."

4- Two Tribes

Not really much to add to what has been said about it in the Hall of Fame. The question is will it still be here next year or will it be flash in the pan like many Hall of Fame winners before it?

  • "Watched nearly every episode, it was that good."
  • "I normally put Pointless here, but Two Tribes is more fun."

3- The Chase

The Chase has continued to do great business for ITV in 2014. We're not really sure how much more we can add to be honest which in many ways is a shame but in many ways also highlights what a solid show it continues to be.

  • "As great as ever, The Chase continues to show no signs of ageing or fading appeal."
  • "If ever I wanted to explain to someone how to make a good family quiz show, this is where I would direct them."
  • "Still getting very good ratings despite always being up against ratings monsters on the beeb. Current series (eight) is IMHO best we have done with regards to contests."
  • "Still high top 5 for me. Maybe needs a fifth Chaser to freshen things up. But a high quota of questions in every show, knockabout pantomine villains, and real excitement in the final chase when it looks like the contestants are actually going to win."
  • "Some more cracking close Finals keep this a regular guarantee of quiz drama."

2- Only Connect

This has had quite the year - a change in question editor and a change in channel - and now it's regularly pulling in 2.5m viewers a week after University Challenge in the Monday night intellectual quiz block, and it's been rewarded with its longest series yet.

  • "You jump on the couch when you score at least one 5-pointer during the first two rounds or a 10-pointer, and you fume when you miss a relative 'gimme' question, and everything else in-between. Plus: the force of Vicky."
  • "With the show moving from BBC Four to BBC2, I'm hopeful that it will find mass appeal as this show REALLY gets you thinking! Sure, they WILL throw some curveballs out there to catch out the unwary, but it's great fun and you will feel pleased with yourself when you get something right."
  • "This remains one of the smartest quizzes on TV, and while I am still unconvinced by the new question editing, I like the attempts to add something new occasionally, the music sequence for example."
  • "Only Connect had quite a year. After S9 had finished, I thought S10 would be the last - the questions were so badly pitched, I thought going onto BBC2 would just kill it. But they've nearly hauled it back from the brink. There are still a few episodes where I think 'too difficult', but it's largely better now. Not fixed, but better."
  • "I think the cracks in the format are starting to show a bit. The sequences are becoming more forced and artificial, and several times during the past season I've had to roll my eyes and groan at a particularly stupid or poorly-set question. Still, I'll take a slightly past it's prime OC over 99% of TV nowadays."
  • "Only Connect has definitely put on a spotty bow tie since it went to BBC 2; each episode can be counted upon not just to feature the usual intriguing questions (though the second thousand can never be as good as the first), but also to include a gag - maybe a Rubik's cube demonstration, a singalong or just a silly sight gag when it prints up the team names. You know what? Until the point where it becomes strained, and it hasn't come even close to doing so yet, I don't mind a bit."
  • "And the BBC Two years begin with... little to worry about for longtime fans, as it turns out. The meta-questions reached a peak this year with a round 2 question about that show's round 1, but overall it was pure, unfettered OC with little dip in pace. Not sure whether the big round-about knockout tournament format is better than just doing two simpler series in a year, mind..."
  • "Made the step up from BBC4 to BBC2 well and even got mentioned on Gogglebox. If that's not the sign of a show 'having made it' then I don't know what is."

1- Pointless

Well this has had quite the year - last year this pipped Only Connect, this year there is a little bit of clear water. When we consider other teatime shows of the last fifteen years that got the nation's attention - namely The Weakest Link and Deal or No Deal - they got very popular very fast and then a couple of years later once the craze had died down the numbers were still decent but not much to shout about. Pointless became five years old in 2014 and it's just posted its best ever daytime figures and sometimes the celebrity editions hold up the entire Saturday night schedule by itself. And then it won a Rose d'Or, which is bad news for Richard Osman who can no longer casually drop that he's never won an award into all his Guardian articles. Will 2015 be another one of its repeats? Join us next year to find out!

  • "still doing great business for a show originally thought to last for 30 shows."
  • "A winning formula that just keeps on giving. They REALLY need to stop interrupting it with repeats so frequently, though."
  • "Another great year for Pointless and especially with Pointless Celebrities doing well Saturdays now too things are looking good. I always enjoy in Pointless trying to get a pointless answer and if do I feel pleased with myself and I think that why it works, playing along at home and trying to get the pointless answers no one else gets."
  • "Every year I expect Pointless to start running out of steam, but it's still as fantastic as ever."
  • "Still the most entertaining show on TV. It's a shame I rarely catch it anymore. It's even more of a shame that it's usually a repeat I have seen when I do."
  • "The banter between Xander and Richard is great and they're still finding ways of making new questions out of tired lists such as chemical elements, capital cities etc. My preferred tea-time viewing."
  • "Still gets me switching over when I detect The Chase is back in the 'two years ago' repeat mode. Great banter between hosts and contestants, still easy to guess and shout at the telly questions. And the celebrity versions do actually add a different dimension on the show, when they could have tired it out quicker than usual."
  • "The Armstrong-Osman double act continues once again to dominate all in its way. Always a delight to watch this show."
  • "For me a word is due about Pointless's celebrity versions, which have really risen in quality of participants and show over the last 18 months, to the point where it is really considered a Saturday night staple in my house. How many also-successful daily shows have managed that?"
  • "For a show to keep going despite using up all its questions about three years ago, and still get spectacular ratings, is beyond me!"

Bubbling under: 6- University Challenge, 7- Tipping Point, 8- Countdown, 9- Deal or No Deal, 10- The Cube

Magic Moments 2014

We round off our poll with some of your favourite moments in UK game shows across the last year, with Youtube clips where appropriate. Be aware that some of the clips contain bad language.

  • "Chainsaw Clown jump scare. Clever idea, sits really well within the challenge itself too."
  • "The chainsaw-wielding clown lurking in the big balloon on Release the Hounds. Hilarious."
  • "The celebrity special of The Cube on Text Santa was surprisingly good - far better than anything featuring cameos by Keith Lemon and The Chuckle Brothers had any right to be. Possibly the highlight was the voice of the Cube suggesting what he might be like after getting a few drinks ahead of the contestants. "You must get across the barrier without cocking up.""
  • "There is most definitely a format in Cube doubles, this was funny, dramatic and most importantly entertaining."

Well, really.

Don't you have homes to go to?

And that was 2014. Thanks very much to all of our voters and congratulations to all of our winners. Turn over to Bother's Bar now where Reggie Yates will be hosting the after party (i.e. some voting percentages and your comments). Until next year!


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in