Weaver's Week 2017-01-01

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Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society, I call this story, "Twenty Sixteen".

Chapters: Cooking on gas | Talent and variety shows | Celebrity shows | Daytime quizzes | Dead or Alive? | Primetime quizzes | Children's | Reality and skill contests | Pure entertainment | Off-Topic Credit | Poll of the Year | Moments | Coming up... | Ratings | Roll of Honour | This Week and Next


The Week of the Year 2016

Cooking on gas

The most popular show on television in 2016 was The Great British Bake Off. The tent-and-oven show was so popular that all ten episodes are in the top twelve transmissions of the year.

Candice Brown was the champion this year, and not just because she brought a different shade of lipstick to every programme. Candice gave meticulous attention to every last detail, her bakes were ambitious and complete. Other bakers stretched time and ambition until one snapped, and gave soggy bottoms or unfinished millefeule. Candice started something, and finished it, and it looked awesome.

The Great British Bake Off Candice Brown.

Selasi Gbormittah won the nation's hearts, with an unfussed and laid-back approach. "The key to puff is chillin'", he said from a horizontal position. Andrew Smyth was precise and engineered, planning his time in five-minute blocks. GCSE examiners nodded in approval. Jane Beedle was the mother of the group, but judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are harsh taskmasters.

The only cloud over the Bake Off idyll: it was the last series for most in there. Love Productions demanded a grotesque amount of money for its show, the BBC offered a mildly obscene wodge, and Love left the building. Channel 4 did offer the grotesque amount, and bought the tent and some utensils.

But not Mel and Sue, nor Mary – all remained loyal to the BBC and waved goodbye to Bake Off. Among the stars, only Paul Hollywood will follow the tent to Channel 4. We doubt that many viewers will.

The Great British Bake Off Thank you and goodbye.

Bake Off had some spin-off programmes. Junior Bake Off (CBBC) is an established format, half-hour programmes for younger bakers. It's loving and supportive; hosts Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes are comfortable together. Crème de la Crème (BBC2) was a show for professional bakers, we found it a cold and clinical show, inferior to Britain's Best Bakery (ITV daytime, 2012-14).

Masterchef continued in mainstream primetime, civilian and Celebrity series on BBC1, Professionals on BBC2. Great British Menu filled autumn evenings on BBC2.

Channel 4's shoulder-peak offer included culinary delights. Come Dine with Me continued, augmented by an attempt at My Kitchen Rules. This show, from down under, could be a hit over here, but needs a less confusing structure. We preferred Too Many Cooks (2) (C4), the half-hour slot meant there was no time for confected drama.

Daytime offerings included Chopping Block (ITV), where Rosemary Shrager and John Whaite give advice and judgement in equal measure. Yes Chef (BBC1) also tried to give advice and judgement, but forgot to be entertaining. Gok's Lunchbox (ITV) was an hour of Gok Wan being Gok Wan.

My Kitchen Rules Food after food after food.

Digital channels added to the groaning table. Hell's Kitchen on ITV2, domestic repeats on Good Food and Home and Really, all sorts of imported Masterchefs on Watch. The advertiser-funded Battlechefs sold cruise ships and celebrities cooking.

Is there now too much food on television? These are just the competition formats, we've not discussed Paul Hollywood Talks About Bread, or Nigella Lawson's Knifework, or The Most Edible Street Pies, or any other instruction programme. Cookery programmes are cheap and reasonably popular, but we haven't seen any new ideas this year.

This creative dearth tells us that the cooking contest bubble is bursting, and we might – eventually – have fewer but better cookery shows.

Talent and variety shows

Talent shows had a strange year. Ever since it began, BBC The Voice of Holland of This Territory has been an unhelpful conjunction of the talented, the washed-up, and the hyped. All three categories were seen this year, with Kevin Sims emerging as the most popular person in the final televote. Sims was no stranger to talent shows, he'd been one of the last candidates on ITV Popstars for Hear'Say, and he'd later worked with fellow rejects in the band Liberty X. The Voice has a number-one hitmaker on its books, but only because he came in with a string of smashes. Nine months on, Sims's career has stalled, like all previous winners of BBC The Voice.

Britain's Got Talent staged its tenth series. BGT felt like disposable telly. It was important for the week it went out, and then we all moved on to something else. We couldn't tell you the winner, or the runners-up.

Strictly Come Dancing Katya Jones.

Strictly Come Dancing filled the autumn, early favourite Will Young withdrew and left the door open for other contenders. Ore Oduba won the series, but people will remember the journey of Ed Balls. Over the course of two weeks, he progressed from 'mediocre' through 'a bit rubbish' to 'sort of OK'. Bruce Forsyth was absent entirely, not even a video message for It Takes Two.

Over on The X Factor, they wanted to forget that last year's shows had ever happened. The hosts – Olly Murs and Caroline Flack – were freed to do other work, and Dermot O'Leary re-engaged. The judges were recast from familiar faces, and the format returned to its usual length. None of this window-dressing altered the show. It's still Simon Cowell looking for someone he can manage – if not for the long term, then at least for a year. Predictable staging and repertoire, confected 'rows' between contestants, romances amongst the tokens, and the same old themes as in years before.

Eurovision held its annual contests. The Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm will be remembered for the interval acts, "Love love peace peace" threw six decades of heritage back in the viewers' face. We also remember it for snide comments by the Russian government. There was a vote, you lost, get over it.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Mariam is buried in a pile of generosity.

Junior Eurovision returned to Valetta, the experimental show was a curious fit for Sunday teatime. Our abiding memory is of the close friendships amongst the performers, and how they all protected Mariam during the reprise. Eurovision's Young Musician of the Year moved to the autumn; the BBC's domestic contest remained in the spring.

Stephen Mulhern had two talent formats on ITV this autumn. The Next Great Magician was a showcase for two dozen talents, none of them household names, many of the familiar from the penumbra of television fame. It was an entertaining enough show, thanks to the skill of the magicians.

Mulhern also hosted Go for It, where members of the public took on bizarre and unpredictable challenges. The show moved at a brisk pace, and didn't bother with sob stories when there's a fresh challenge to show. At times, slightly disjointed, but fun throughout the series.

The Great Interior Design Challenge livened up BBC2's winter schedules, and The Great British Sewing Bee came back in the spring. Artsworld sponsored a number of worthy-but-dull contests.

Celebrity shows

This section isn't quite "celebrity panel shows", but most of them are. Have I Got News for You and A Question of Sport and QI and Big Star's Little Star and Mock the Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You and All Star Mr and Mrs. They all came back for one or more series. So did Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief, this year benefiting the Sports Relief fund.

The Jump (C4) made a third series, this time stripped over Sunday nights. Viewers like to see celebrities fall over; we love to see them get back up again. A spate of injuries early in the series led to all the reserve contestants being called up, and an eliminated contestant coming back the following week to make up the numbers. Don't get this on Mission Survive (ITV), the tough-as-nails series crowned another winner and promptly got cancelled.

Drive The Dreaded Night Race.

Don't get this on Drive (ITV), celebrities in fast cars. And celebrities in a muddy swamp, and plenty for the petrolheads. A show that celebrates mediocrity and where the best drivers do the least driving is in trouble. The series was won by Professor Green, who had earlier been on Lip Sync Battle UK (C5). This entertainment asks celebrities to mime to pop songs, often dressing up and presenting the original video in their own way.

Panel games continued to dominate the schedules. Insert Name Here (BBC2) tried to offer a history lesson through entertainment, and fell between both stools. Bad Language (BBC1 Northern Ireland) explored English as she is spoken, with the returning Patrick Kielty as host. Channel 5 offered the relationship show It's Not Me, It's You, trimmed from an hour at pilot to 30 minutes by the end of the series, and working better with each cut.

Over on UKTV's Dave channel, Go 8 Bit explored vintage and recent video games; we reckon it would have been better without Dara Ó Briain. Taskmaster continued for two series, and brought up some phenomenal viewing figures for the channel.

Don't Make Me Laugh was less successful, being thrown off Radio 4 after making a joke about Mrs. Windsor, a queen from London. The BBC Trust and the Junior Anti-Sex League both said this show was offensive, neither body considered that their brown-nosing of royalty was itself offensive.

The Crystal Maze We were the future once.

Last year's Taskmaster champ Josh Widdicombe appeared on The Crystal Maze, revived by Channel 4 for a charity special. Stephen Merchant was certainly in the top three hosts of the show, and the programme was sufficiently well-received to make a full series possible.

Many of the panel games revolve around the same handful of "reliable" comedians. At times, this crosses from familiar to predictable, from comfortable to boring. Can't say that about Sorry, I Didn't Know (ITV2), a history panel game. Why did this show have so many unfamiliar names? It was a black history show, mostly staffed by black comedians. And that's a whole other story.

Daytime quizzes

At times, it feels like the television industry revolves around daytime quizzes. Pointless and The Chase are two of the most successful daytime shows we've ever seen. They've both moved into primetime without major changes, and both help to boost their channels in the 5pm hour. If we've one criticism, it's that Pointless has been in repeats too much this autumn – barely a dozen new episodes went out between September and Christmas. All-new The Chase profited from its rival's sloth.

Tipping Point, Dickinson's Real Deal, Bargain Hunt, Antiques Road Trip all continued with successful new episodes. It'll be interesting to see how Bargain Hunt fares with revolving presenters, a technique that might be adopted more widely.

Eggheads continued, though without CJ de Mooi – he was let go after some malicious allegations were proven unfounded. To replace him, and to add someone else to the panel, Make Me an Egghead went out. This was a reversioning of Are You an Egghead? from a few years ago. The standard of play was superb, the winners were worthy champions, and both fitted into the Eggheads cast like a warm glove. Even better, the programme gained a new lease of life from the new blood.

Make Me an Egghead The old Egghead panel, enhanced by new players.

Debatable was paired with Make Me an Egghead. Patrick Kielty returned to network television with an entertaining format. Crotchety Old Person, Shiny Young Thing, and Quirky Person mulled over general knowledge questions, hoping to advise The Contestant. Money for successful answers, fun almost guaranteed. We hope for more.

Over on BBC1, two very welcome newcomers. We took easily to The Code, host Matt Allwright and quiz mistress Lesley Brewis had a challenging general knowledge format, where teamwork and strong knowledge proved essential. A good team would come close to the prize, a great team was sure to win it. And the format was so simple anyone can understand it.

Think Tank (3) took a bit more getting in to, host Bill Turnbull was joined by eight regulars and three contestants during the show. Again, general knowledge with a twist – spotting the correct answers from a number of options, or knowing something that the entire Tank didn't know. Even the best-of-five penalty shootout was made interesting, by allowing contestants to consult with the panel for early rounds.

We'd like to say the same of ITV's Alphabetical, where the objective was to answer a question for each letter of the alphabet. The endgame proved impossible, and the rest of the show was tedious general knowledge trivia throughout. There is a whole alphabet of challenges available, we could have a Catchword revival, or some First Letter First anagram skills.

Cash Trapped Cash Trapped lets its players out for a few minutes.

Cash Trapped was the other summer replacement for The Chase, and was also hosted by Bradley Walsh. Large personalities keep playing amongst each other until someone wins the difficult (but not impossible) endgame. By casting large personalities, we're sure to see drama each episode, and can begin to get beneath people's skins as the shows wear on. A new series looks likely.

Tenable came along in November, Warwick Davis hosts a top ten list quiz which can swing back to the contestants when hope is lost. A new series of Rebound was made, and aired, Sean Fletcher is still a talent to watch. We're pleased to see that Rebound still features picture questions, too many other daytime shows are just verbal trivia. Pointless remains the best show for mixed media – pictures and music in many shows.

Antiques had their daytime quizzes. Masterpiece (ITV) allowed Alan Titchmarsh to wander around stately homes, looking at the objects and asking interesting questions. For What It's Worth (BBC1) split general knowledge from valuation, we never felt particularly warm to the show.

The Question Jury Another day of deliberations for the jury.

One new daytime quiz from Channel 4, The Question Jury. Seven people, seven questions, unanimous answers required. The questions themselves were less precise than we'd like, the "work as a team for one player's reward" mechanism and the semi-reality format can be interesting.

Channel 4 began the year with a Countdown Championship of Champions, and the words-and-numbers show continued through the year. Fifteen-to-One came back for two series, Come Dine with Me and Three in a Bed also had new episodes, though Coach Trip took a lateral movement to E4 primetime.

Almost inevitably, Deal or No Deal came to an end. The stockpile of shows recorded in 2014 finally ran out, and Noel teased us with "something very different". What could it be? Boxes hidden in people's living rooms? Ten-minute games? App-a-long games? Live from the top of the Post Office Tower?

Nearly. Noel and his boxes went around the country. Underground (in Wooky Hole caves), overground (37,000 feet due up in a plane), Noel was dealing free, and the shows ended with a £250,000 jackpot winner in Glasgow.

Deal or No Deal That is that, the end, goodbye.

Two days later, The Banker's Good Brother died. It transpires that the pop star George Michael was a fan of Deal or No Deal, and made donations to some players who didn't reach their targets. One player who wanted £15,000 for IVF was gifted the money. So was a charity supported by one of the players. The Banker wanted to hold on to his squillions of pounds, George wanted to get money and give it away.

Dead or Alive?

The world of game shows wasn't immune from the wall of celebrity deaths this year.

  • Ed Stewart, in whose memory we say Crackerjack!
  • David Bowie, whose ex-wife was in Celebrity Big Brother.
  • David Gest, a competitor in that series of Celebrity Big Brother.
  • Terry Wogan, a legend in his own breakfast time.
  • BBC3, a sacrifice to the Westminster elites.
  • Cliff Michelmore, a steady and safe hand on the tiller.
  • Asa Briggs, biographer of the BBC.
  • Paul Daniels, purveyor of magic and superior games.
  • Ronnie Corbett, Small Talker.
  • Reg Grundy, the icosahedron stopped spinning.
  • Burk Kwouk, voice of Banzai.
  • Christina Grimmie, star of NBC The Voice of New Jersey.
  • Pete Burns, trope namer.
  • Bobby Bragg, warm-up man.
  • Jimmy Young, popularised the "Unchained" melody.
  • Cindy Stowell, six-time Jeopardy! champion, whose shows were brought forward owing to her cancer.

Ronnie Corbett When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage.

Primetime Quizzes

For a number of years, BBC1's primetime quizzes have been associated with the National Lottery's products. In It to Win It, Who Dares Wins, 5-Star Family Reunion, and Win Your Wish List all had new episodes this year.

Such largesse won't last. From next year, the Lottery Corp's tentpole will be removed, the draws will be covered online only. The quizzes will have to stand on their own merits. Not all of them will make it.

500 Questions We've got 500 questions, and blue ain't one.

Nor will we see more of ITV's 500 Questions, their first primetime quiz for regular people since Millionaire. It's the best version of the format, sure to give away money at the end of each show. But the combination of tough questions, and contestants cast for their personality, and Giles Coren's waspish character, combined to make the show difficult viewing. To be frank, the problem appears to be with the format, not the execution.

BBC2's Quiz Bookends continued. University Challenge gained from Jeremy Paxman snarking a little less. Only Connect (2) gained six extra episodes, so that its format matches the adjacent University Challenge. Which would be fine, except it's moving to Friday from this week. Mastermind appeared to have slightly easier – or shorter – general knowledge questions.

Hive Minds made a second series on BBC4. When it's not played by two excellent sides, this show really sags in the middle. The Lie may have gone from TV3 and STV, but Celwydd Noeth continued on S4C, and this year crowned its first jackpot winners.


CITV is still not making game shows, and Disney Channel UK chose to spend its production on drama The Lodge. The result: only the BBC made new game shows for children. We still don't understand Swashbuckle (Cbeebies), and will have to have a three-year-old explain it to us.

CBBC had plenty of new series. Quiz show Top Class featured tough questions from Susan Calman, the starter-and-bonus structure is leavened by Test the Teacher, the team's Pet Subjects, and a quickfire buzzer round at the end. The topics of the National Curriculum (England) may prove too restrictive to get more than a few series.

Airmageddon Rachel Stringer and Will Best tried to direct the drones.

Airmageddon was an effort at the future, high-tech drone racing in an aircraft hangar. Didn't really work on television, and a weak show when compared to Robot Wars (BBC2). Pocket Money Pitch also looked to the future, asking children to design their own products and pitch them for development. Only in retrospect do we see this as an innovation show, it was presented as a business programme.

Copycats returned, and restored the order of mime-art-music, getting more difficult as the show goes on. Sam and Mark also hosted a new series of Junior Bake Off, and will have the Big Friday Wind-Up in the new year.

CBBC reality shows will eat themselves. Three years ago, the audience chose a presenter on Blue Peter You Decide. This was a public vote in 2013, so of course the public gave the right answer. Lindsey Russell has been outstanding on Blue Peter, and this year fronted another show.

Taking The Next Step sought a CBBC viewer to appear on The Next Step, a dance show of incredibly high standards and even higher popularity. Regionals led to Nationals and to Toronto. Dance and acting and improvisation were tested, and the emotional highs were tremendous. We're still waiting to see Khyrese's episodes.

Got What it Takes? The stars of Got What it Takes?

Earlier in the year, Got What It Takes? explored the nuances of the music business from all angles. Song performance matters, but so does interview skills. And dancing. And choreography. And being able to carry on singing when a gorilla rushes in from the wings and sprays silly string in your face.

And it helps to have support from family. One place in the weekly final was awarded from the Mother's Challenge, played by the contestants' mums and not by the young contestants themselves. The mothers also judged the best performance of the week, and had most of the marks in the series final.

For our money, the show succeeded because of the little detail. Lauren Platt knew when to narrate, and when to keep quiet. The show used the grammar of vlogs, with the stability of professional camera work. Performances were filmed with an eye to modern grammar, in a way that BBC Eurovision Song Contest entries weren't.

There was style and panache throughout the series, and an attitude of "this is entertainment, it may not be for you, and that's absolutely fine." All of the competitors gained from the experience, and that's all we can ask.

Reality and skills contests

As a genre, reality competitions have eased away from the mainstream. Reality documentaries remain popular, advances in camera tech allow for "fixed rig" setups in unlikely places. But the mainstream channels have stopped making reality contests, except for I'm a Celebrity.

Big Brother had another series on Channel 5. It was much shorter than usual, and this column sees no point in the franchise continuing. Celebrity Big Brother had its traditional runs in January and August; both were rendered unwatchable by bigots amongst the cast.

Love Island was a success on ITV2, clipping Big Brother's wings and turning into a success on its own terms. Still reckon they can lose the "Share or shaft" final, mind.

ITVBe had a winner with Dinner Date, a cookery / reality / romance hybrid. On the main channel, Meet the Parents had a good idea – see the date's parents before seeing the date – but it was up against the ratings juggernaut of Strictly. Might like another series in a less exposed slot.

UK's Best Part Time Band Rhod Gilbert and Midge Ure in a van.

BBC Music had a "Join In" campaign, encouraging viewers to take up musical instruments. They made two game shows out of this. UK's Best Part-Time Band trekked around the country, looking for non-professional musicians. This format would have been much more fulfilling had it not found a winner at the end, if the "prize" was a concert shown on BBC2.

All Together Now The Great Orchestra Challenge was about part-time classical musicians, and the prize was to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. Again, if the campaign is about taking part, they don't need to crown a winner.

S4C's Fferm Ffactor moved to Saturday night, and was an all-out entertainment show. Teams of young farmers were given tests of skill, designed to look good on television. Potting "snooker" balls by driving a small tractor, that sort of oddness. We're not agricultural experts, but we do know a good entertainment when we see it.

Robot Wars (BBC2) came back, in a true-to-the-original revival. Britain's Most Spectacular Backyard Builds (BBC2) was a pilot drawn from Scrapheap Challenge. E4 made the pilot series All Hail the Veil, competing to design a wedding dress. Ninja Warrior UK (ITV) tried to find someone to conquer the Nintento Hard side-scrolling video game; again, Timothy Schieff came closest but failed.

Pure entertainment

Some shows try to find a star. Some shows are gently improving. Some shows are quizzes. And some are just big dumb balls of entertainment.

The Getaway Car Any show with The Stig can't fail, right?

The BBC had two such shows early in the year. The Getaway Car couldn't possibly fail. It had Dermot O'Leary, king of Saturday night! It had The Stig, the one person from Top Gear to stick by the corporation! It had, er, Red Stig and Blue Stig, "nephews" for the younger viewers to identify with.

Only one problem: the show wasn't much good. The obstacle course at the start was entertaining, the video game effects in the off-road course were fun. But The Stig family are mute, they're like Emu without the anarchic streak. And the cash prize was gone in 60 seconds or less, an anti-climax after the earlier effort.

We came into Can't Touch This with lower expectations, and the show lived up to them. For the bulk of the game, contestants go along the same obstacle course (the same each week), trying to reach various touch points and bank prizes. A series of elimination games are done in a flash, before the winner gets to bank some of their prizes, and jump for a brand new car.

Sue Perkins provided the voiceover, Zoe Ball and Ashley Banjo did the on-set narration. We've problems with the balance – the show spent too long on the opening round, and needed to mix it up from week to week – but there's a decent show lurking in there.

ITV also had two big entertainment series. Bang on the Money with Rickie Williams and Tomorrow's Star Melvin Odoom went out in the spring. Young people did silly stunts in the studio to control numbers, and the better team got to take it home. The show laboured its rules more than we'd like, and the teams never competed against each other.

Bang On the Money ITV's action-packed Saturday night: putting a golf ball.

Spotless had a pilot episode in August, people try to keep themselves clean and avoid exposure to luminous paint. It's an idea that will sell well overseas, but might not work in this territory.

The most coherent series of Saturday Night Takeaway in a very long time. They spent the episodes building up to an end-of-the-series spectacular from a cruise ship in Barcelona. It's a structure for the shows, a way to link each episode into a greater narrative arc.

E4 gave us the comedy-horror pilot show Polterguest, ITV2 offered Prank Pad. The Satellite Channel made another series of Wild Things. Any could come back.

Off-Topic Credit

A good writer will read widely, not just those in their field of expertise. This column tries to have other media experiences, in the hope that we might someday become "good". Here are five we've enjoyed.

Lindsey Stirling plays the violin with passion and verve, dances with grace and precision, and makes big electronic beats. She rose to fame through NBC's Got Talent. She didn't win the show, and was called "not good enough" by one of the panel. Stirling dusted herself down, worked with good people, and made a success of her life, in a way that the critic did not. Watch more: "The arena"

Lindsey Stirling, not a Crystal Maze mazemaster.

Danger Mouse has been our favourite television show of the year. The animation is voiced by talents including Dave "Come Dine with Me" Lamb and Alexander "Pointless" Armstrong. The stories are big, cramming more drama into their 11 minutes than some shows fit into an hour. There's character development, an overarching plot, and enough wordplay that we must wear punblock. Save the world!

Eastern Michigan University has a college football team. For the past decade, the EMU Eagles have been the laughing stock of college football, a cheap win for any team who wants one. This season, coach Chris Creighton turned the group of losers into a little team that could, and then a little team that did. The team secured their first winning record of the century, and played in their first bowl game since 1987. (Bowls are a reward for teams that win more than they lose.) Didn't win, but it was entertaining and edge-of-the-seat television.

A late entry to this list is The Wicked and the Divine, a comic book by Kieron Gillen. The story revolves around a group of gods who are incarnated as rock stars. We were gifted the first comic book album last weekend, and we're impressed with the plotting, the characterisation, and the overall concept. Further albums are already on order, and we've not looked at the official website because spoilers.

Laurie Penny is the writer we aspire to be. "Feminist, nerd, troublemaker" according to her biography, Penny has an ability to tell the world as it really is, not how it likes to think it is. We were blown away by "I'm With the Banned", a night with Milo (not the one from The Tweenies). We were inspired by "Life Hacks of the Poor and Aimless", a reminder to take care of yourself. And there's a sci-fi novella we're keeping for a new year.

These creators, these creations have kept us going.

Poll of the Year

The Poll of the Year 2016 begins on Monday. We've not finalised our vote, but we know roughly where we're going.

Best New Shows

We're certain to vote for Got What It Takes (CBBC), the talent show was exactly opposed to The X Factor. Calm, encouraging, supportive, we saw that success is a team effort. And the show was edited and directed so well, we were drawn into the story.

Another certain vote for The Code (BBC1). In a year of many good quiz formats, The Code landed with all guns blazing. The format rewards good quizzers, offers a jackpot that can be won, and it felt that Matt and Lesley genuinely wanted everyone to walk out with the money.

The Code Matt Allwright of The Code.

There are more votes in our quiver. We're thinking about Taking The Next Step (CBBC), a slow beginning but the show caught fire at Nationals. We're considering Go For It (ITV), Stephen Mulhern's skill challenge, perhaps spoiled by revisiting some challenges at the end of the year. Masterpiece (ITV), Alan Titchmarsh's travelling antiques quiz. And The Crystal Maze (C4), a satisfactory pilot of a revival.

Worst New Shows

We give votes here to shows that were fundamentally flawed beyond repair, rather than shows that were hyped beyond their merits. While we expect The Getaway Car or Can't Touch This to win, both had some merit. These shows did not.

BBC Music did not impress us this year. We're leaning towards Best Part-Time Band as their worst contribution, but Eurovision Your Decision is also eligible and not much better. Bake Off Crème de la Crème (BBC2) bore no resemblance to its parent show.

We said Gok's Lunchbox (ITV) was for Gok Wan fans, and unbearable to those of us who merely tolerate Gok. Master of Photography (Artsworld) was self-regarding nonsense, inconsistent in its own judgements.

Though it can be repaired, we have a special mention for Alphabetical (ITV). A pile-up of errors included nothing other than flat trivia questions, a derisory daily prize, and an endgame that was impossible without guessing.


Some of our favourite bits of the year.

  • From Brain of Britain, the most simple of questions. Dude, where's my car?
  • At The Crystal Maze, when The Jogger comes out with one second to spare, somehow releasing the crystal.
  • On Got What it Takes, one of the contenders lays into Waxl Rose: "This second verse is rubbish, it's like he ran out of lyrics."
  • Mastermind has a final. It ends in a tie.

Eurovision Song Contest Everything happening in this picture of Justin Timberlake.

  • In June, we said, "GPB make statement entries. Their last two at Senior Eurovision were psychedelic noodlings and a warrior princess. Their last two at Junior Eurovision were a catchy number and one so bright it made the sun shine on the radio. Georgia is a sign of quality, and a name to watch." Should have put €10 on 'em for Junior.
  • The time in July when someone fitted a thermometer to a Deal or No Deal red cube and it became Box 30. Or was it a birthday cake?
  • Rehearsals are interrupted on Taking The Next Step.

Taking The Next Step

  • Back to The Crystal Maze, and The Dryad wins the Knightmare game.
  • Fferm Ffactor: because Saturday nights were made for people answering questions about farming while riding a plastic rodeo bull.
  • Myfanwy Alexander and David Edwards score a perfect 24 on Round Britain Quiz.
  • Hacker T Dog on Celebrity Mastermind. Playing seriously and sending the format up.

Coming up...

Many shows are looming in the new year. Here are just some of them.

The Big Spell (The Satellite Channel) Hard Spell, with Sue Perkins and an Argond.

Dance Dance Dance (ITV) Recreating famous dance routines.

The Jump (C4) Propping up the European hospitals will be stars including Robbie Fowler, Jason Robinson, Spencer Matthews, Gareth Thomas, Vogue Williams and Lydia Bright.

BBC The Voice of Holland UK (ITV) That's confusing.

BBC The Voice of Holland UK Kids (ITV) That's even more confusing.

Ultimate Gladiator (BBC2) Can modern men survive in the arena? Or will they fall to Wolf and Jet?

Eurovision Choir of the Year (LTV for EBU) Maybe, if they can get enough competitors interested

Eurovision Superteams (EBU) Perhaps, if a lot of things fall into place.

Other shows have been thieving names from existing game shows.

Liar (ITV) Teacher Laura and surgeon Andrew meet at the school where she teaches and eventually decided to go out on a date. Nothing to do with a comedy psych game from 2002.

Noughts and Crosses (BBC1) Strict race laws make daily existence a matter of life and death. Not a revival of Beat the Teacher, Celebrity Squares, or Criss Cross Quiz.

Timewasters (ITV2) South London jazz band travel back in time to the 1920’s. Nothing to do with a mid-90s CBBC show.

Trust Me (BBC1) Cathy is forced to take drastic measures to provide for her daughter. And not a 2003 psychological filler from Channel 5.


This section is as much for historical record as anything. If you want to skip to the Roll of Honour, go right ahead.

The top ten is evenly split between BBC1 and ITV. BBC2 takes eight of the "minor channels" top ten, one entry each for Channels 4 and 5. ITV2 has most of the digital top ten, but The Satellite Channel, Dave, BBC3, BBC4 all have hits.


1 The Great British Bake Off (final) 26 Oct 15.9
2 Strictly Come Dancing (final) 17 Dec 13.3
3 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 25 Dec 8.94
4 ITV's BBC The Voice of Holland of UK (first) 09 Jan 7.87
5 The Great Sport Relief Bake Off 03 Feb 7.44
6 Eurovision Song Contest 14 May 7.33
7 Masterchef (final) 06 May 5.91
8 Celebrity Masterchef (final) 29 Jul 5.69
9 Have I Got News for You 14 Oct 5.54
10 Pointless Celebrities 23 Jan 5.25
11 The Chronicles of Nadiya 24 Aug 4.86
12 The Getaway Car (first) 16 Jan 4.53
13 Sir Terry Wogan Remembered 30 Sep 4.35
14 Win Your Wish List 20 Feb 4.29
15 The Great British Bake Off Class of 2015 27 Oct 4.28
16 Strictly Len Goodman 23 Dec 4.26
17 Who Dares Wins 29 Oct 4.22
18 Celebrity Mastermind (first) 19 Dec 4.12
19 Would I Lie to You 14 Oct 3.99
20 Five-Star Family Reunion 03 Sep 3.56
21 In It to Win It 04 Jun 3.56


1 Bake Off Creme de la Creme (first) 29 Mar 4.43
2 Masterchef The Professionals (final) 22 Dec 3.66
3 Dragons' Den 21 Aug 3.43
4 The Great British Sewing Bee (first) 30 May 3.38
5 University Challenge 04 Jan 3.34
6 The Great British Bake Off An Extra Slice (first) 26 Aug 2.94
7 Only Connect (final) 18 Jan 2.9
8 Christmas University Challenge (final) 01 Jan 2.88
9 Robot Wars (first) 24 Jul 2.58
10 The Choir Gareth's Best in Britain 08 Nov 2.45
11 Great British Menu 25 Oct 2.4
12 Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two 05 Dec 2.31
13 QI (first) 21 Oct 2.3
14 Mastermind 22 Jan 2.13
15 The Apprentice You're Fired 27 Oct 2.11
16 The Great Interior Design Challenge 01 Mar 2.08
17 Celebrity Masterchef (transfer) 06 Jul 2.03
18 Pointless 17 Oct 2.01
19 Celebrity Mastermind 15 Apr 1.99
20 Mock the Week 30 Sep 1.96
21 Celebrity Antiques Road Trip 05/01, 26/01 1.91
22 Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief for Sport Relief 28 Feb 1.77
23 Eggheads 17 Oct 1.73
24 Pointless Celebrities (unbilled transfer) 13 Jul 1.59
25 Make Me an Egghead 19 Sep 1.39
26 Insert Name Here (Christmas) 20 Dec 1.21
27 QI XL 25 Dec 1.21
28 Bargain Hunt 22 Feb 1.1
29 Debatable 21 Sep 0.87


1 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (first) 13 Nov 12.19
2 Britain's Got Talent 16 Apr 11.93
3 The X Factor 03 Sep 9.52
4 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (first) 20 Feb 8.11
5 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Coming Out 07 Dec 7.73
6 Ninja Warrior 23 Jan 3.85
7 The Chase 23 Dec 3.71
8 Big Star's Little Star (first) 02 Mar 3.6
9 Blankety Blank 24 Dec 3.57
10 The Next Great Magician 13 Nov 3.48
11 Catchphrase 02 Jul 3.37
12 Take Me Out 20 Feb 3.3
13 All Star Mr and Mrs (Christmas) 18 Dec 3.3
14 Tipping Point Lucky Stars 05 Nov 3.25
15 You're Back in the Room (first) 12 Mar 3.2
16 The Chase Celebrity Specials 16 Oct 3.06
17 The Big Quiz (2) 01 Jan 2.9
18 Mission Survive (first) 03 Mar 2.84
19 Go For It 10 Sep 2.79
20 Play to the Whistle (first) 16 Apr 2.71
21 Bang on the Money (first) 16 Apr 2.67
22 Cash Trapped (first) 01 Aug 2.63
23 500 Questions (first) 22 Aug 2.33

Channel 4

1 The Crystal Maze 16 Oct 3.79
2 The Jump (first) 31 Jan 2.41
3 The Big Fat Quiz of Everything 05 Jan 2.17
4 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 24 Dec 2.17
5 Come Dine with Me 04 Jan 1.32
6 Alan Carr's 12 Stars of Christmas (first) 19 Dec 0.88
6 Four in a Bed 24 Jun 0.65

Channel 5

1 Celebrity Big Brother (first) 05 Jan 3.12
2 Lip Sync Battle (first) 08 Jan 2.35
3 World's Strongest Man (final) 01 Jan 1.94
4 Big Brother 08 Jun 1.77
5 The Ant & Dec Story 27 May 1.74
6 Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side 22 Jan 1.19
7 Penn and Teller Fool Us in Vegas (first) 12 Mar 1.06
8 The Graham Norton Story 20 Dec 0.94
9 Big Brother's Bit on the Side (final) 26 Jul 0.76
10 It's Not Me It's You 19 Jul 0.7


1 Fferm Ffactor Brwydr y Ffermwyr 19 Nov 0.038
2 Can i Gymru 05 Mar 0.035
3 Celwydd Noeth (first) 08 Sep 0.035

Big Centre TV

1 You Bet Your Life 19 Aug 0.012


1 ITV's BBC The Voice of Holland of UK (first) 10 Jan 0.684


1 Eurovision You Decide 26 Feb 0.746
2 Eurovision Song Contest 12 May 0.641
3 How Quizzing Got Cool 30 Nov 0.477
4 Eurovision at 60 12 May 0.405


1 Junior Bake Off 10 Nov 0.341
2 Sam and Mark's Big Friday Wind Up 29 Jan 0.249
3 Got What It Takes? 13 Jan 0.238
4 Pocket Money Pitch 15 Feb 0.232
5 Gory Games 14 Jun 0.223
6 The Dog Ate My Homework 22 Jan 0.2
7 Copycats 01 Jul 0.195
8 Rank the Prank 09 Oct 0.165
9 Ultimate Brain 21 Aug 0.13


1 Swashbuckle 23 Jul 0.319


1 Celebrity Juice 27 Oct 1.942
2 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Extra Camp (final) 04 Dec 1.638
3 Love Island 05 Jul 1.553
4 Britain's Got More Talent 30 Apr 1.266
5 Take Me Out The Gossip 27 Feb 0.994
6 Xtra Factor (first) 27 Aug 0.9
7 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (first) 28 Feb 0.562
8 Catchphrase 06 Feb 0.56
9 Hell's Kitchen (first) 13 Jul 0.491
10 Britain's Got Talent (narr rep) 01 May 0.468
11 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (repeat) 26 Nov 0.456


1 Britain's Got Talent (narr rep) 17 Apr 0.239
2 The X Factor (narr rep) 29 Aug 0.176
3 Catchphrase 10 Jan 0.138
4 The Xtra Factor Comp Shows 21 Aug 0.13


1 The Chase Celebrity Specials 17 Jan 0.303


1 Dinner Date 03 Aug 0.416
2 The Bacherlorette 04 Mar 0.124


1 Virtually Famous (first) 19 Jan 0.531
2 Coach Trip Road to Ibiza 17 Aug 0.509


1 Come Dine with Me 17 Jan 0.55
2 Four in a Bed 17 Jan 0.535
3 8 Out of 10 Cats (Christmas) 21 Dec 0.527
4 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 02 Jan 0.442
5 Sarah Beeny's Four Rooms (first) 22 Aug 0.388


1 8 Out of 10 Cats Uncut 04 Mar 0.121
2 Pop Idle Us 08 Feb 0.09
3 American Idol (last) 12 Apr 0.078


1 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 19 Mar 0.199
2 The Crystal Maze 24 Oct 0.165
3 Come Dine with Me 25 Oct 0.162


1 Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side 06 Jan 0.33


1 Lip Sync Battle Us (Kaley Kuoco) 24 May 0.049
2 Celebrity Big Brother Live From The House 29 Jan 0.021

Comedy Central

1 Lip Sync Battle 09 Mar 0.172

Comedy Central +1

1 Lip Sync Battle UK 01 Jun 0.044


1 Celeb BB Heroes and Villains 03 Jan 0.076
2 Celebrity Big Brother 17 Jan 0.069


1 Battlebots (first) 04 Sep 0.204
2 Lip Sync Battle 27 Jan 0.201


1 Taskmaster (final) 01 Nov 0.913
2 Go 8 Bit 12 Sep 0.65
3 Have I Got a Bit More News for You 01 Sep 0.428
4 Would I Lie to You 02 Jan 0.391
5 Room 101 17 May 0.39
6 QI XL 20 Mar 0.387
7 Mock the Week 06/09, 20/09 0.384
8 QI 13 Jul 0.331

Dave +1

1 8 Out of 10 Cats 07 Jul 0.084

Good Food

1 The Great British Bake Off 25 Sep 0.111
2 The Great British Bake Off Masterclass 23 Jan 0.082
3 Masterchef 26 Apr 0.064
4 Masterchef The Professionals 12/01, 18/01 0.059


1 The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 19 Dec 0.144
2 The Great British Bake Off 25 Mar 0.101
3 Four in a Bed 12 Feb 0.025

Watch / W

1 Masterchef Australia 07 Oct 0.29
2 Masterchef Junior Us 11 Jul 0.277
3 Masterchef Us (first) 04 Jan 0.273
4 Tipping Point 14 Jun 0.16
5 Celebrity Masterchef 31 May 0.131
6 Battlechefs (first) 04 Apr 0.116

The Satellite Channel

1 A League of Their Own Roadtrip 24 May 1.288
2 A League of Their Own S1 07 Jan 0.982
3 Duck Quacks Don't Echo 13 Sep 0.301


1 America's Next Top Model 17 Jul 0.402
2 My Kitchen Rules Australia 26 Jul 0.203
3 The Biggest Loser Us 12 Jun 0.145
4 My Kitchen Rules New Zealand 19 Feb 0.1

Living It

1 America's Next Top Model 21 Oct 0.038
2 The Biggest Loser Australia 25 May 0.03


1 The Chase 04 Aug 0.234
2 Who Wants to be a Millionaire 25 Oct 0.231
3 Bullseye 26 Jun 0.168
4 The Chase Australia 30 Mar 0.162
5 Pointless 19 May 0.156
6 Crystal Maze Christmas Specials 23 Dec 0.151
7 Catchphrase 24 Dec 0.139
8 Robot Wars 08 Jan 0.137
9 Gladiators 27 Nov 0.128
10 Price is Right 02 Apr 0.115
11 Family Fortunes 09 Jan 0.107
12 The Chase Us 03 Jan 0.095

Challenge +1

1 Ninja Warrior 02 Apr 0.037
2 Total Wipeout 11 Oct 0.035
3 Blockbusters 11 Apr 0.034
4 Knightmare 10 Jan 0.031
5 Fun House 03 Jan 0.03
6 Strike it Rich 06 Feb 0.029
7 Supermarket Sweep 13 Nov 0.029
8 Takeshi's Castle 06 Oct 0.029
9 The Link 03 May 0.028
10 Blankety Blank 07 Feb 0.026
11 Golden Balls 18 May 0.025
12 Wheel of Fortune 28 Jun 0.024
13 Deal or No Deal 20 Apr 0.021
14 American Ninja Warrior 21 Jul 0.018


1 Landscape Artist of the Year 25 Oct 0.281
2 Master of Photography 28 Jul 0.115
3 Guitar Star 2016 (first) 05 Jul 0.091


1 The Voice Kids 09/10, 23/10 0.058
2 So You Think You Can Dance (first) 23 Apr 0.04
3 The Voice 17 Dec 0.031


1 Bigg Boss 10 Dec 0.158
2 India's Got Talent 14 May 0.036

Star Plus

1 Masterchef India 05 Nov 0.149

Discovery Home & Health

1 Masterchef Australia 29 Apr 0.056

Food Network

1 Great British Menu 12 Sep 0.077
2 Ramsay's Best Restaurant 11 Jun 0.054


1 Britain's Next Top Model 04 Feb 0.305
2 Australia's Next Top Model 12 May 0.192
3 Project Runway 08 Dec 0.148


1 America's Got Talent 19 Jul 0.157
2 Rupaul's Drag Race 15 Feb 0.065

A dull methodology note. Ratings are complete to 31 December. We use the 7-day consolidated rating published by BARB, people who watch live or on catchup within a week. Only one entry per show per channel. SD and HD are combined, we separate out viewers on timeshift (+1, +2, +24) services.

Roll of Honour

(All results as transmitted are final)

Celebrity Big Brother
(January) – Scott Timlin
(August) – Stephen Bear
Big Brother – Jason Burrill

Only Connect – String Section (Tessa North, Richard Aubrey, Pete Sorrell)

Championship of Champions – Dylan Taylor
(June) – Paul Erdunast
(December) – Martin Hurst

Ninja Warrior – no winner

3g Boss – Jawwad Uddin

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off – Samantha Cameron, Kimberley Walsh, Geri Horner, Ade Edmondson
Bake Off Crème de la Crème – Squires Kitchen International School: Mark Tilling, Helen Vass, Samantha Rain
The Great British Bake-Off – Candice Brown
Junior Bake Off – Nikki Christou
Christmas Bake Off – Mary-Anne Boermans, Chetna Makan

Eurovision: You Decide – "You're not alone"; written by Justin J. Benson, Siva Michael Kaneswaran, Schwartz; performed by Joe and Jake

The Great Interior Design Challenge – Sarah Mitchenall

Cân i Gymru – "Dim ond Un"; written and performed by Cordia

The Jump – Ben Cohen

Got What It Takes? – Amaria Braithwaite

Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief for Sport Relief – Tim Vine and Darryl Fitton

Mastermind – Alan Heath

Mission Survive – Alex Scott

(spring) Q-Rexx
(autumn) Vortex

BBC The Voice of Holland UK – Kevin Simm
RTE The Voice of Holland Ireland – Michael Lawson

University Challenge – Peterhouse Cambridge (Hannah Woods, Julian Sutcliffe, Oscar Powell, Thomas Langley)
Christmas University Challenge – St Hilda's Oxford (Fiona Caldicott, Daisy Dunn, Val McDermid, Adele Geras)

Brain of Britain – Mike Clarke

Drive – Professor Green

Masterchef – Jane Devonshire
Celebrity Masterchef – Alexis Conran
Masterchef The Professionals – Gary Maclean

Eurovision Song Contest – NTU for "1944" (composer and lyric: Jamala, Art Antonyan; performed by Jamala)
Eurovision Young Musician – TVP, represented by Łukasz Dyczko (saxophone)
Junior Eurovision Song Contest – GPB for "Mezo" (composer: Giga Kukhianidze; lyric: Maka Davitaia; performed by Mariam Mamadashvili)

BBC Young Musician
Jazz – Alexandra Ridout
Classical – Sheku Kanneh-Mason ('cello)

Fighting Talk – Paul Sinha

Britain's Got Talent – Richard Jones

(series 5) – Gareth Moore
(series 6) – Huw Pritchard

The Great British Sewing Bee – Charlotte Newland

Britain's Best Part-Time Band – Bombskare

Rostrum Camera – Ken Morse

(July) Katherine Ryan
(November) Rob Beckett

Love Island – Nathan Massey and Cara De La Hoyde

Guitar Star – Zayn Mohammed

Taking The Next Step – Khyrese

BBC New Comedy Award – Jethro Bradley

Master of Photography – Gabriele Micalizzi

Counterpoint – Tim Adkin

All Together Now The Great Orchestra Challenge – North Devon Sinfonia

Make Me an Egghead – Steve Cooke, Beth Webster

One Man and His Dog
Young handler – Jock Welsh & Nell
Senior handler – Dick Roper & Will
Team – "England" (Tom Blease & Queen, Dick Roper & Will)

Top Class – St Pius X Preparatory School, Preston

Y Gemau Gwyllt – Harri

Ar y Dibyn – Ifan Richards

Celwydd Noeth – Gwydion y Aled

My Kitchen Rules – Amy and Nicola

Landscape Artist of the Year – Richard Allen

Hive Minds – Prime (Will, John, Jill)

Fferm Ffactor – Gelli Aur (Jack Davies, Carys Jones, ac Aled Davies)

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – Scarlett Moffatt

The Next Great Magician – Barry and Stuart

The X Factor – Matt Terry and Simon Cowell

Strictly Come Dancing – Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton
Christmas – Tomorrow's Star Melvin Odoom and Janette Manrara

Deal or No Deal – Vikki Heenan

This Week and Next

For New Year's Eve, ITV offers Ninja Warrior UK and a celebrity edition of Take Me Out. Diversity have a show on New Year's Day, and it's the final of World's Strongest Man (C5).

A new daytime quiz on BBC1, !mpossible (from Mon). The Great Interior Design Challenge returns to BBC2, and Celebrity Big Brother to Channel 5 (both from Tue). Pop Quiz The Comeback concludes (BBC4, Wed).

Lots of entertainment on Friday night, with The Big Fat Quiz of Everything (C4), Lip Sync Battle UK (C5), The News Quiz (R4), and The Big Quiz (2) (ITV). Drastic action is needed to address this overload of silly, and Only Connect (2) (BBC2) moves a slice of Monday to Friday nights. It helps set up a Quizzy Saturday block, with UC, OC, and Mastermind all in a row.

On Saturday 7 January, a Radio 2 special of Pointless Celebrities, the start of Let It Shine, some spinning chairs and rotating keyholes (because ITV still thinks they can embargo their schedule and not look silly.)

The Week will be back on 8 January with all the news from the Christmas break, and a full report on the Countdown finals week. Until then, we'll be listening to Ellie Goulding's "Halcyon" (chorus line: "it's gonna get better, it's gonna get better") and making sure 2016 gets out of all of our lives. Good games to you!

Photo credits: Love Productions, BBC, Spark Media Partners in association with P&O Cruises, EBU / PBS, TwoFour (an ITV Studios company), Fizz / Little Lion Productions, 12 Yard (an ITV Studios company), Possessed, Monkey, Remarkable (an EndemolShine company), Wall to Wall (a Warner Bros Television Production Uk Company), DHX Media / Concave Media, Rize USA, Thames, Sandman_AC (CC-BY-NC-ND)

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