Weaver's Week 2019-12-29

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With all the reviews of 2019 now written, let's have a look at what the various channels and platforms have brought us.

The Greatest Dancer



Strictly Come Dancing remains television's most reliable format. From early September until late December, Saturday evenings are filled with celebrities performing for your pleasure. The show remains a journey, competitors go from completely rubbish to really good, and we're with them every step of the way. And it remains a little family, warm and welcoming and appreciative of everyone's efforts.

Strictly changes every year. A new judge – Motsi Mabuse replaced Darcey Bussell, bringing a different experience and outlook on the performances. The weekday It Takes Two editions were hosted by Rylan Clark-Neal, and he could bring the experience of someone who has performed on Strictly. But these were only little changes, the heart of the show remained as comfortable as ever.

The Greatest Dancer The mirror cracks...

BBC1's big new show in the spring was The Greatest Dancer, from Simon Cowell's production company. It contained elements from notorious flop show Rising Star, the audience had to give a supermajority otherwise nothing would happen. It contained great dancers – Oti Mabuse from Strictly, Matthew Morrison from Broadway, and Cheryl Cole from Popstars The Rivals.

The show went for the quick emotional hit, the performance to wow and impress. It's a Simon Cowell production, we expect nothing else. There's no mention of the hard work it takes to become the greatest dancer, none of the journey we'd see from Karim Zeroual on Strictly later in the year.

Many of BBC1's traditional shows continued on their familiar paths. Masterchef in its civilian and celebrity versions. Have I Got News for You, sycophantically laughing along with those who pretend to rule us. Would I Lie to You? and Pointless and One Man and His Dog, doing the same thing they've done for years. Who Dares Wins also graced Saturday night, and this year they had lists with thousands upon thousands of possible answers. Shows in the UK Gameshows A-Z? Give our apologies to Match of the Day, Nick, we'll start the bidding at 500.

Eurovision Song Contest All I know...

The Eurovision Song Contest showed how the BBC still doesn't have the faintest idea about how to select and present a contemporary song. All Together Now came back for a second and final series. It was still fun to watch, but we agree that the gimmick has run its course.

There was more pop knowledge in The Hit List, a Saturday night entertainment that's almost caught on. The premise is simple: name popular songs from a short snippet. The presentation is slow and laborious, with themed lists and a lot of exposition for a very easy idea. Even the way they change the buzzer from "I'll answer this" to "I'll skip this" is confusing. There's a good show in The Hit List, but right now we're not seeing it.

Catchpoint Balls: drop 'em.

Catchpoint proved more of an instant winner. Our players are asked general knowledge questions on a scale, a target ball drops, and catch that ball to win some cash. There's plenty of catching on the show, surprising charm from host Paddy McGuinness, and we really enjoyed the programme. So did the viewers, it turned into a sleeper hit.

The Wall Bring on the wall!

The Wall emerged fully formed into primetime, and quickly turned into a monster hit. The format's been circulating in Europe for the past few years, and emerged here for the autumn. Key to the success was Danny Dyer: he doesn't have to do anything other than cheer with the players, and bring out their emotions. Who knew that a tough guy actor would help other people to act? The Wall gave us a rare six-figure win on the Beeb, and it'll be back for another series.

BBC1 daytime continues to move around its tentpoles – Homes Under the Hammer, Bargain Hunt before the lunchtime news, Pointless before the teatime news. This year, we had property show Best House in Town, weird arts programme Home Is Where the Art Is, and inventions programme The Customer Is Always Right.

Curiosity In the 1970s zone, it's a two minute game. In you go!

We didn't get any mid-afternoon quizzes until April, when antiques puzzler Curiosity entertained us. !mpossible came back after Easter, ahead of some celebrity shows in the summer. Rick Edwards' quiz hasn't been shown at teatime this year, perhaps it's found a place that's not quite the next Pointless. Recruitment quiz Headhunters brightened up early autumn, it's about two tweaks away from being rather good.


A rum old year at ITV Building Site (formerly ITV Towers, now being redeveloped for the cash). The channel's established shows still pull in an audience – I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! had the biggest game show audience of the year, Got Talent also made the Ten Million Club. Dancing on Ice and The Voice all did exceptionally well, and there were decent numbers for The X Factor and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

But notice something about those shows: they're all very well established. I'm a Celeb has been on every year since 2002, Got Talent since 2007. Dancing on Ice has been on-and-off since 2006, The X Factor since 2004, and Millionaire on-and-off since 1998. Only The Voice first came to our screens this decade, and that was in 2012. ITV continues to rely on its warhorses, there's very little new coming through.

The X Factor Same as it ever was.

And there needs to be something new coming through. The X Factor is damaged goods, this year's celebrity series peaked with the first audition, and lost almost half of its viewers before the finale. BBC1's breakout hit The Wall will have damaged X Fac, but it's only accelerated the general decline for the show. The one-week wonder Battle of the Bands was a complete flop, and its winners' single has failed to trouble the singles chart, even ignoring all the festive oldies. We were surprised to read that ITV has re-commissioned The X Factor for another year, people would rather see Tipping Point than this.

It's not been the best years for ITV daytime, with Jeremy Kyle Shouts At People taken off air under tragic circumstances. They've eventually worked out what to do with the hour: split it between The Lorraine Kelly Inc Show and This Morning with Scofe and Holly. The afternoon schedule has been consistent: The Chase dominates at 5pm, and the gamble to replace it with Cash Trapped seems to have paid off. There have been primetime Celebrity Chases, and a short series of Family Chase gave us an interesting dynamic.

Tipping Point at 4pm is more popular than X Factor, and Tenable has proven to be a solid game in the tricky 3pm hour. The Switch ran at 3pm in December, we think it's a decent show, but we're not desperate to see lots of episodes. See also: Take Me Out, which feels like it's going to finish with the current series.

In for a Penny Look who's on the telly!

Stephen Mulhern has been busy, as usual. Catchphrase was joined by his meet-the-people game In for a Penny. It's big and brash and foolish and such great fun. Pour buckets of water over your head for cash! Call up your mother and get her to say "bauble"! Count to 12 seconds and win a grand! We never have any idea what's coming next, only that Stephen Mulhern will make it fresh and spontaneous and fun.

"Fresh and spontaneous and fun" was the idea behind Small Fortune, which aired in the early spring. The idea is very simple: do this task in a miniaturised area, and do it perfectly. Take as many practices as you need – but they'll cost you – and then make the only attempt that counts. Tension is ratcheted up – and down – and then up again. It would be a great challenge amongst a show of other challenges – perhaps in Size Matters, alongside a game of giant things, and a game at human scale. Ultimately, we found it a show for the head, not the heart.

Small Fortune Jumbo jet? Not quite...

Other primetime shows included Brightest Family, now extended with extra tests and skills, such as a memory round. Ninja Warrior found the course could be completed, and What Would Your Kid Do? continued to test the predictive power of parents. 5 Gold Rings wasn't networked on Sunday evenings, as viewers in Scotland got to see The Cash Machine. This is probably an error: the show needed to move at a faster pace, nearer 45 minutes than a full hour. It's a viable format, and we wish STV luck in selling it.


Race Across the World A rare sight on the road to Singapore.

Race Across the World was BBC2's breakout hit this year. Six episodes showed our teams trek overland from London to Singapore, via Kazakhstan and China. The teams were up against each other, but never quite knew how far they were in front or behind each other. And even if they did, a strictly limited budget meant decisions had to be made.

To tell its story, Race Across the World chose to concentrate on the dynamics amongst each pair of players. They could have taken us on a travelogue of unlikely places, but that was a side-order on the trip. In order to be understood by the viewers, Race Across the World chose English as its means of communication, perpetuating the stereotype of Anglos Abroad. This column couldn't connect emotionally with any of the teams, but we applaud the broad ambition and hard work to make the show.

Interior Design Masters also told a story, about the strange world of home design. Fearne Cotton represented the viewer, thrown like Alice into a strange world where things aren't always as they seem. Eliminating one player each week means we see a lot of the finalists, and their styles, and we can root for or against them.

The Family Brain Games The family that plays together does really well.

And there was a story from The Family Brain Games: we can do this, together. A rigorous series of experiments, designed to shed light on how the brain works, what parts improve with age, and what skills can be learned. There wasn't much pressure, but it gently increased for the final round, a test of logic, knowledge, lateral thinking, time management, communication, risk-taking, and knowing when to guess. Five questions are posed. The team cannot pass, and each player can only see their own screen. The players have to collectively work out the answer to the questions. There's a one-minute penalty for each incorrect answer, and the faster time overall wins.

Family Brain Games knew what it wanted to achieve, and it hit the mark with flying colours. Explain about the brain, be wonderful with the families, and have some contest to keep us watching. By treating the families well, they were relaxed and able to give their best on screen. Our moment of the year came from this show:

The Family Brain Games Welcome!

Dara Ó Briain was very unambiguous in his support for the families. One of the families had a difficult time with the shapes puzzle, and things were getting a bit stressed and a bit shouty before they fluked a solve. As soon as they hear it's right, Dara bounds through the door, beaming a big smile, and calling "Well done! Well done!" What was boiling up to a row was defused by the host's charm and bonhomie. Throughout the show, Dara gave praise for what people had achieved, and sympathy for what they had not.

The Chef's Brigade was BBC2's final new game show, a tour around Europe to find a group of people worthy of training by top cook Jason Atherton. This show lacked focus, we were never sure if the aim was to find a whole group of chefs to work as a team, or individuals who could be trained further, or what.

Many familiar shows returned. Great Sewing Bee and Masterchef The Professionals were big in the spring and autumn, and Dragons' Den has been solid on Sunday evenings. There's been a subtle changing of the guard on Quizzy Mondays: while University Challenge had the year's single highest audience, it's beaten in the raw viewer numbers by Only Connect (2). What is the attraction of young, intelligent, witty Victoria Coren Mitchell when compared with old and crabby Jeremy Paxman? Mastermind moved production to Belfast, did away with the high-scoring losers, and struggled on Friday nights; it'll move to Mondays for 2020.

House of Games (3) Just another day in Richard's sitting room.

A change of guard at teatime, as Eggheads appears to have fallen out of production. It's been replaced by Richard Osman's House of Games (3), a celebrity challenge where famous faces take part in a series of chucklesome general knowledge games. The show's developed a house style, questions written with a familiar type of wit and charm. When paired with Strictly Come Dancing on Two, it's a winning formula.

QI has been struggling a bit this year, we've not heard much chatter about the show – now in its 17th series, and beginning to run out of alphabet to ask. Great Local Menu moved to primetime, Mock the Week continued to chortle along with the establishment, and Antiques Road Trip sought bargains where they could. Only two episodes of I'll Get This – a charity and a Christmas special – with more expected next year. Insert Name Here also had a new series, but can anyone remember what happened?

Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off The Bake Off crew in mid-October.

Bizarre as it sounds, we reckon there is a logic behind Channel 4's commissioning. It wants to be a mainstream channel, safe family viewing for millennials and their young children. That explains their purchase of Bake Off, another massive hit series across the channel, with Celebrity and Professional and Junior and Festive spin-offs. It explains the meld of 8 Out of 10 Cats and Countdown, why they're persisting with The Crystal Maze, and the channel's purchase of Taskmaster for next year – but we'll come to that later.

Hunted had two new series, with civilian and celebrity contestants asked to evade capture for weeks on end. There was a new run of SAS: Who Dares Wins, and the inevitable The Big Fat Quiz of the Year shows. Channel 4 engaged in its own nostalgia with the summer series Jade The Reality Star who Changed Britain, an undeniably tragic tale. While an important part in the development of the celebrity culture, the documentary never delivered on its promise that Jade Goody could not have been replaced.

Small Fortune Jade Goody marked Christmas 2007.

More modern reality has its place on Channel 4. The Island with Bear Grylls had a treasure hunt theme, but remained a survival challenge. The Circle was filmed this year in Salford, with the usual mixture of characters, including Richard Madley from Runway. We really enjoyed Snackmasters, where Fred Sirieix challenges professional chefs to re-create some of the most familiar snacks. Can you make your own Kit Kat biscuit? Behind the challenge was an entertaining (and gently educational) look at food technology.

Snackmasters Fred Sirieix hosts a frivolous challenge.

In daytime, Channel 4 gave us Beat the Chef, a test of a great civilian cook against the house experts. Cooking Up a Fortune was an extended commercial for expensive street food, Your Room or Mine? looked into interior design, in a much lighter way than BBC2 had done.

Countdown began the year with its occasional Championship of Champions, during which Zarte Siempre set an all-time highest score of 150 points. We thought the record would last for years and years; it lasted four months, shattered by Elliot Mellor with 152. Play in the regular series has been patchy, and this column can actually score points from time to time. The £100k Drop and Fifteen-to-One had new series, and Kirstie's Celebrity Craft Masters asked celebs to learn new skills. Channel 4 also benefited from a link-up with Comcast's Sky Television division, giving access to Formula One racing, and showing Portrait Artist of the Year.

Other public service channels

The Great Model Railway Challenge Channel 5 modelled how to lose viewers.

With no Big Brother, Channel 5 was light on the games this year. They'd decided to shift Celebrity Game Night from January to April, and the show was quickly forgotten. Blind Date went out in the spring and summer, to no lasting effect. Gino's Win Your Wish List was a diversion for the summer. The Great Model Railway Challenge looked set to break through into the mainstream, but the scheduling department moved it from Friday to Saturday, annoying everyone. The Great Garden Challenge might be worthy of a second series.

BBC Scotland launched in February, and quickly became a home for very decent little game shows. (And for very decent little shows in general: Rewind 90s and Rip It Up Unwrapped were an acerbic and witty take on recent pop culture.) Test Drive showed off the tourist sights of Scotland, and the ability to make a quiz out of anything. It's earned a primetime repeat on BBC1 Scotland. Flour Power visits communities – people who live or work together – and has a little challenge to bake something lovely. It's a gentle show, it fits well on BBC1 network's Saturday mornings.

Wonderball BBC Scotland's a bit wonderful.

Wonderball is a little gem of a show. The aim is to have the last ball in a velvet bag, because that's worth £2000 at the end of the programme. Simple questions allow each pair of players to take other teams' balls out of the bag; more difficult questions let them keep their own in play. There's a danger ball, worth nothing to anyone, and the chance to sell one or more balls during the course of the programme. When written down, the format is complicated. When seen on screen, host Caitriona Shearer makes it look as easy as riding a bike. It's a surprise that Wonderball hasn't been picked up for a network showing, we'd put it out as teatime relief for House of Games.

S4C marked the 50th anniversary of Can i Gymru, the longest-running contest for songs, and a celebration of Welsh-language culture. They also returned to Junior Eurovision Song Contest, making a small but significant impact on the contest. Côr Cymru, the biennial choir contest, proved to be a testing ground for Eurovision Choir of the Year, where S4C competed against BBC Alba. Neither choir made the final three. Fferm Ffactor returned in a celebrities edition. While Prosiect Z didn't air any new episodes this year (the team made Project Z for CITV), we did get new rounds of Pigo dy Drwyn and darts quiz Oci Oci Oci!. Y Siambr was spectacular games in a cave, and Un Cwestiwn was a quiz for children.

Y Siambr Touch all the points at the same time.

S4C's quiz of the year is Rhannu. Take 16 contestants, and split them at random into two teams of eight. Each team is put into a soundproof shed, and sends out its champion on a topic. Questions are asked until one of the champions is right and the other is wrong; whoever made the error is out, taking their whole team with them. The questions are intercut with reactions in the soundproof sheds, increasing the tension without increasing the quiz. Only the winner leaves, for the end-of-year final, everyone else comes back next week. By keeping the same contestants across such a long time, we begin to learn about them, their strengths and weaknesses and styles.

CBBC continued to make shows of entertainment, gentle education, and some inspiration. Got What It Takes? continued to show the ups and downs of the star's life. Interactive marvel Last Commanders came back for a new series, gently advancing the plot they started last year. The Dog Ate My Homework may have lost original host Iain Stirling, but gained Hacker T Dog and Lauren Layfield. Susan Calman continued to shout the brilliance of everyone on Top Class.

Step Up to the Plate (2) Praise from Allegra McEvedy.

Step Up to the Plate (2) was the new format of note, combining challenges of cookery with those of serving the food. Fred Sirieix and Allegra McEvedy gave advice and encouragement, praising those who showed ability and planning, and those who could think of new and innovative solutions to problems. We can see the format – both structure and positivity – working well for adult television.

Cbeebies appointed new Captain Heyho on Swashbuckle, and asked difficult questions on panel show Gigglequiz. BBC II! made programmes for its young audience – Glow Up found a make-up artist, The Rap Game found a rap star, and RuPaul's Drag Race looked for a drag queen. We think Elephant in the Room is the only new quiz or panel game on BBC radio, joined by Gloryhunters on Talk Sport.

Other broadcast shows

Changes of ownership at UKTV, which was eventually split late in the year between Discovery Networks and BBC Studios. The most visible change was on the Freeview EPG, where Discovery's Quest channel moved up and the Dave channel moved down. The uncertainty seems to have affected the shows UKTV made, they concentrated on pay-tv drama including Flack (darkly comic, and this column's fave drama of the year). Pay-tv flagship channel W contributed Masterchef Down Under, and other versions of the same series.

There were also new shows for Dave, most notably two more series of Taskmaster. They turned out to be the last editions on UKTV, as Channel 4 swooped in and picked up the expired contract. Perhaps Channel 4 thinks they can do for Taskmaster what BBC2 did for Only Connect earlier in the decade: introduce the show to a new audience, not set out to change it in any particular way, and see what happens.

Hypothetical It's, er, hypothetical.

Dave continues to make a lot of chatty shows involving a small number of regular comedians – Hypothetical reminded us of long drives in slow traffic, while Comedians Giving Lectures did exactly what it said on the tin. Scrapyard Supercar might have been a near-remake of Scrapheap Challenge, but it's so long since Robert Llewellyn hung up his welder, and the new show was surprisingly entertaining.

ITV2 had the biggest single show, Love Island was the biggest thing on television throughout the summer. They tried to lift The Fabulous Iain Stirling's career with Celebability, but the team-versus-star show remains something of an acquired taste. Don't Hate the Playaz returned for a second series, and Celebrity Juice continued for its umpteenth. Hey Tracey cast familiar faces as the "intelligent" part of artificial intelligence, a conceit that never quite grabbed us. There was a lot of art on Killer Camp, a careful and well-drawn pastiche of so many familiar tropes, but no-one watched it. Supermarket Sweep returned with a blaze of publicity, and just about managed to spin the show out to fill an hour. It'll be repeated into infinity.

Supermarket Sweep Just grab the chocolates!!!

Over on ITVBe, Dinner Date continued to fill many hours of airtime with its endlessly repeatable little dramas. Groundhog Date was an entertaining pilot, going through the same date with many suitors, so the only thing that would change is their reaction. 5Star had two more series of Celebs on the Farm, and imported Ireland's version of This Territory's Got Talent from VM1. We didn't get to see RTÉ's Dancing With the Stars.

Viacom's pay-tv channel Comedy Central commissioned a new series of Blockbusters with Dara Ó Briain. For our money, it's the best version since Bob Holness hung up his hexagons, Dara is warm and witty and just the right sort of daft for the light entertainment. Your Face or Mine came back for a third year. If we're to believe reports elsewhere, Viacom has decided not to commission new shows for Comedy Central, we wonder if they'll be picked up for their "Channel 5" Freeview brand.

Blockbusters It's 'im again!

E4 picked up some new editions of Come Dine with Me, including a celebrity week just before Christmas. Shipwrecked ruled the waves in the early spring, and two runs of Celebrity Coach Trip performed well. Pants on Fire was less well received, we were never quite sure if we were watching for the stunts, or the lying, or what. 8 Out of 10 Cats continued with its commentary on modern life. The Hangover Games showed what the human body can do after it's been punished with too much alcohol. More4 had a short series of Celebrity Countdown.

The Hangover Games How's your sharp-shooting after a night out?

Comcast's pay-tv brand "Sky" also has a small budget for game shows. Artsworld continued its popular Landscape and Portrait Artist of the Year shows, and made another edition of pan-European show Master of Photography. General entertainment on The Satellite Channel included sports panel show A League of Their Own, and movies panel show There's Something About Movies. They also scheduled Gameshow of Thrones for the night we expected civilisation to end in late March.

Gameshow of Thrones The bells! The bells!

Non-broadcast brilliance

Even without resorting to the dark arts, we're able to see a lot of great shows via the interwebs. Those who speak French get Fort Boyard and Tout le Monde Veut Prendre Sa Place through TV5monde.com. Dutch speakers can catch up on De Slimste Mensen and Blokken, and Wie is de Mol – unless the bvn.tv servers are over capacity with all the mole fans. 25 Words or Less] is big for North American viewers, and they make most of their episodes available on the web. One or two fine moments of Jeopardy! are available. And if you're only after highlights, that's easy – the best bits of almost every programme are chopped out for your delectation.

Ben Justice, one of the witty writers on House of Games, spent much of the spring counting down his 100 Best Game Shows in video form. It's a labour of love, with brief clips to bring out the game and an explanation of quite why they click with him. Lucy Porter and Jenny Ryan made another series of their Fingers on Buzzers] podcast, with star guests including Ben Shepherd to talk all about Tipping Point. Another podcast, Retroquizzical, reviewed many of the games from the 80s and 90s, and concluded that The Krypton Factor was the best all-round show of all.

And that's just the shows and 'casts this column has been interested in. There's so much more around: take yourself to Bother's Bar for an ongoing discussion of all that is good in non-broadcast game.

Ratings charts

This section goes on a bit. If you'd rather skip to the Roll of Honour, be our guest.

Ratings supplied by BARB are thousands of viewers who watched live or within 7 days of original transmission, averaged across the show duration. It includes viewing on broadcast television (satellite, cable, Freeview) or internet, and only those shows making the published part of the chart.

License fee-funded channels


Strictly Come Dancing (final) 14-Dec 12759
Strictly Come Dancing Launch Show 07-Sep 9256
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Show 25-Sep 7679
Eurovision Song Contest (final) 18-May 7304
The Greatest Dancer (first) 05-Jan 5630
Masterchef (final) 29-Mar 5338
Have I Got News for You 18-Oct 4929
Pointless Celebrities 09-Feb 4783
Celebrity Masterchef (first) 02-Sep 4771
The Wall (final) 16-Nov 4678
Countryfile One Man and His Dog 22-Sep 4582
Would I Lie to You 25-Oct 4559
Strictly The Professionals 14-Sep 4548
Pointless The Good The Bad and the Bloopers 23-Mar 4235
The Hit List 23-Nov 3978
Celebrity Mastermind 02-Jan 3909
All Together Now (first) 02-Mar 3448
Pointless 06-May 3417
A Question of Sport 02-Jan 3404
Who Dares Wins 24-Aug 3191
Take Off 24-Dec 3087
Catchpoint (first) 23-Mar 3035
University Challenge Boat Races 07-Apr 2909
Celebrity Painting Challenge (final) 25-Apr 2891
 !mpossible Celebrities (first) 02-Mar 2388
Room 101 01-Jul 1572

Strictly did incredibly well, Eurovision rated far better than the BBC's effort, and The Greatest Dancer got off to a good start. Note the shows that build up steam (Masterchef, The Wall) and those that deflate like a bad souflee (Celebrity Masterchef, All Together Now).


Great Local Sewing Bee (final) 02-Apr 3811
Masterchef The Professionals (final) 19-Dec 3652
Race Across the World (final) 07-Apr 3306
Dragons' Den (first) 11-Aug 3064
Comic Relief does University Challenge 15-Mar 2986
Christmas University Challenge (final) 04-Jan 2744
University Challenge 18-Nov 2725
Only Connect 18-Nov 2706
QI 24-Dec 2000
Masterchef The Professionals Rematch 23-Dec 1906
Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two 18-Nov 1900
Great Local Menu 16-May 1881
Interior Design Masters (first) 14-Aug 1875
Mastermind 11-Jan 1758
Dragons' Den Does I'll Get This 15-Nov 1746
Richard Osman's House of Games 26-Nov 1723
Mock the Week (best of year) 20-Dec 1646
Antiques Road Trip 04-Jan 1618
The Family Brain Games 25-Jun 1395
Eggheads 28-Jan 1318
The Chef's Brigade (first) 30-Jul 1265
Eurovision You Decide 08-Feb 1237
QI XL 05-Jan 1187
I'll Get This 19-Dec 1111
Insert Name Here 02-Jan 1059
Celebrity Eggheads 19-Aug 956
Bargain Hunt 13-Dec 815
Make Me a Dealer 29-Oct 648
Race Across the World Meet the Couples 03-Mar 587
Me and My Dog (rpt 2018) 06-Jul 208

Note how QI has settled down at a million-and-a-bit viewers, BBC2 was its home all along.


Eurovision Song Contest (semi-final) 14-May 652
Christmas University Challenge 19-Dec 382
Cardiff Singer of the World (final) 22-Jun 211
Young Dancer 26-Apr 175
How Quizzing Got Cool (rpt 2017) 13-Mar 93

Music shows dominate BBC4's reach, the weekly Top of the Pops scores 250,000 or so.


Gigglequiz 26-Nov 494
Swashbuckle 06-Jan 342

Though Cbeebies repeats itself every few weeks, these were both new episodes.


Sam and Mark's Big Friday Wind Up 05-Apr 167
Horrible Histories Gory Games 09-Apr 164
Junior Bake Off (2016) 07-Feb 160
Step Up to the Plate 29-Dec 128
Last Commanders (first) 01-May 122
The Dog Ate My Homework 22-Feb 120
Raven (2018) 09-May 119
Got What It Takes? (2018) 22-Jan 115
Match of the Day Can You Kick It (2018) 16-Jun 106
Top Class 13-Oct 88

CBBC repeats itself quite a bit, though it's unusual for a competition to stay in rotation as long as Junior Bake Off has done.

BBC Scotland

Strictly Come Dancing It Takes Two* 14-Nov 78
Breaking the News 30-Jun 72
Flour Power 31-Jul 44
Antiques Road Trip* 16-Aug 35
Richard Osman's House of Games* 11-Dec 35
Masterchef The Professionals* 09-Nov 28
Test Drive 16-Aug 25
Wonderball 15-Apr 23
Eggheads* 09-Sep 22
Only Connect* 20-Dec 22
Celebrity Eggheads* 30-Jul 12
The Boss* 08-May 11

Shows marked with a * were commissioned by BBC2 network, relayed on BBC Scotland.


Sion a Sian (2018) 13-Jul 27
Junior Eurovision (Erin yn Ewrop) 23-Nov 26
Can i Gymru 01-Mar 25
Côr Cymru (final) 07-Apr 24
Fferm Ffactor Selebs (final) 23-Mar 21
Can i Gymru Dathlu'r 50 28-Feb 20
Hewlfa Drysor 26-Dec 18
Chwilio am Seren Junior Eurovision (first) 03-Sep 15
Côr Eurovision 03-Aug 15
Celwydd Noeth (2013) 25-Aug 14
Rhannu 27-Feb, 21-Sep 13
Oci Oci Oci 26-Jul 12
Dim I'w Wisgo 08-Mar 11
Y Ras 16-Jan 11
Pigo dy Drwyn 07-Sep 8

Two entries for Can i Gymru? The second is a celebration of the show's 50 years. Y Ras was a sports quiz.

ITV channels


I'm a Celebrity (first) 17-Nov 13171
Got Talent (first) 06-Apr 10299
Dancing on Ice (first) 06-Jan 7515
Got Talent The Champions (first) 31-Aug 7198
I'm a Celebrity Coming Out 12-Dec 6857
The Voice (first) 05-Jan 6357
The X Factor Celebs (first) 12-Oct 6117
Who Wants to be a Millionaire 06-Jan 5591
Catchphrase 26-Jan 4854
The Chase Celebrity Specials 17-Nov 4664
The Chase 03-Jan 4614
The Chase The Bloopers 24-Dec 4302
In for a Penny 27-Apr 3829
The Voice Kids (first) 08-Jun 3784
Cash Trapped (first) 11-Nov 3735
Brightest Family (first) 30-Jan 3523
Small Fortune (first) 02-Feb 3495
This Time Next Year (first) 05-Feb 3376
Ninja Warrior 11-May 3348
The Family Chase (first) 24-Mar 3192
Tipping Point 23-Jan 3056
Through the Keyhole (first) 12-Jan 2981
What Would Your Kid Do? (first) 24-Mar 2935
Tipping Point Lucky Stars 21-Jul 2872
Quizmaster 29-Dec 2844
The Big Quiz (2) 19-Dec 2697
5 Gold Rings (first) 22-Sep 2672
Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule 01-Jan 2331
The X Factor The Band (first) 09-Dec 2280
Take Me Out 09-Nov 2267
Tenable All Stars 12-May 2248
Alan Carr's Celebrity Re-Play 2019 30-Dec 2046
Tipping Point Best Ever Finals 12-Mar 1848
Tenable 08-Nov 1421

An awful lot of series openers here, ITV uses its promotional weight to attract people in, but give them no reason to come back after they've seen an edition. In for a Penny one of the few exceptions to this rule. Note how The Chase gets a primetime rating at teatime.


Love Island 03-Jul 6152
Love Island The Reunion 04-Aug 3907
Love Island Aftersun 21-Jul 2412
Love Island Unseen Bits 20-Jul 1943
I'm a Celebrity Extra Camp (final) 08-Dec 1691
Supermarket Sweep (first) 09-Sep 1218
Got More Talent 27-Apr 911
Celebrity Juice 16-May 857
Hey Tracey 01-Jul 651
Catchphrase (repeat) 24-Dec 648
Hell's Kitchen 16-Jan 640
I'm a Celebrity Surviving the Jungle 14-Nov 637
Celebability 01-Jul 601
Got Talent The Champions (final, rpt) 06-Oct 434
Got Talent (repeat) 05-May 426
Through the Keyhole (repeat) 30-Apr 392
Take Me Out (repeat) 25-Mar 380
I'm a Celebrity (repeat) 24-Nov 351
The Voice (first, rpt) 06-Jan 320
The X Factor Celebs (first, rpt) 13-Oct 268
Don't Hate the Playaz (first) 16-Oct 243
Killer Camp (first) 27-Oct 235
In for a Penny (repeat) 22-Sep 218
Got Talent (compilations) 11-Aug 203

No surprise that Love Island sweeps all before it on the channel, or that the Supermarket Sweep revival fell off quickly.


The Chase The Bloopers 04-Jan 329
The Chase Celebrity Specials 11-Nov 263
The Chase 25-Feb 217
Football Genius 09-Mar 71

All these shows are repeats. Shame we didn't get any more Football Genius.


Love Island Down Under 14-Oct 208
Dinner Date 20-May 156
Love Island Yankee (first) 21-Sep 134
Dating in the Dark (rpt 2017) 07-Aug 80
Release the Hounds (rpt 2015) 01-Sep 56
Groundhog Date 13-Jun 52


Spy School 22-Sep 112
Project Z 21-May, 29-Jul 100

Channel 4 channels

Channel 4

Bake Off 29-Oct 9769
Celebrity Bake-Off 12-Mar 5301
The Great Festive Bake Off 01-Jan 3962
Big Fat Quiz of the Year 26-Dec 3605
Celebrity Hunted 20-Oct 3127
SAS Who Dares Wins (first) 06-Jan 3072
Hunted 24-Jan 2540
Bake-Off Crème de la Crème (first) 30-Apr 2382
Big Fat Quiz of Everything 04-Jan 2362
Jade The Reality Star who Changed Britain 07-Aug 2196
Bake Off Extra Slice 01-Nov 2171
Snackmasters 01-Oct 2159
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 23-Dec 2044
Treasure Island 06-Oct 1979
The Circle (first) 24-Sep 1974
Junior Bake Off (first) 04-Nov 1865
The Crystal Maze (celeb, xmas) 23-Dec 1175
Four in a Bed 28-Oct 956
Buy It Now for Christmas 12-Dec 930
Come Dine with Me 08-Feb 872
Kirstie's Celebrity Craft Masters (first) 01-Jul 704
Portrait Artist of the Year (final) 24-Aug 697
Beat the Chef 20-Jun 652
Countdown 11-Jan 547
The £100k Drop (first) 07-Jan 541
Cooking Up a Fortune (first) 09-Sep 423

Half of Channel 4's top ten is Bake Off-related cakey goodness. For our money, Kirstie's Celebrity Craft Masters is the most Channel 4 programme possible: familiar faces doing homely things, encouraged by the ubiquitous Kirstie Allsopp. Surprised they buried it in daytime.


Shipwrecked (first) 28-Jan 821
Celebrity Coach Trip Road to Barcelona 24-Jan 779
8 Out of 10 Cats (first) 24-Mar 605
Festive Bake Off (new year 2019) 30-Dec 582
Come Dine with Me 19-Dec 577
Bake Off (repeat) 31-Aug 468
Celebrity Bake-Off (first, rpt) 09-Mar 294
The Crystal Maze (celeb) 28-Jul 268
The Big Fat Quiz of Everything (repeat) 28-Nov 251
Pants on Fire 31-Oct 198

The Come Dine with Me episodes were new on E4.


Come Dine with Me 05-May 332
Four in a Bed 02-Feb 322
Celebrity Bake-Off 03-Mar 284
Celebrity Countdown (first) 12-Nov 245
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 23-Feb 171

Celebrity Countdown the only show commissioned by More4 on this list.


Bake Off 10-Sep 464
Celeb Bake-Off (first) 05-Mar 240
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown 05-Feb 140
Big Fat Quiz of Everything 05-Jan 139
Festive Bake-Off 28-Dec 137
Celebrity Hunted 10-Nov 127
Hunted 11-Jan 123
Junior Bake Off (final) 23-Nov 117
Come Dine with Me 24-Dec 106
Big Fat Quiz of the Year 27-Dec 96
Jade The Reality Star who Changed Britain 22-Aug 85
The £100k Drop 22-Jan 84
8 Out of 10 Cats 18-Jun 68
Treasure Island 29-Sep 63
The Crystal Maze 11-Jul 59
Bake Off The Professionals 15-May 56
Snackmasters 03-Oct 49
Four in a Bed 06-Jul 46
Buy It Now for Christmas (first) 29-Nov 41

Everything's repeated from Channel 4, usually the night before. Bake Off really did attract huge catchup numbers on Wednesday nights, sometimes eclipsing what was on the main channel.


8 Out of 10 Cats 14-Sep 96
Coach Trip Road to Zante 23-Sep 51

Channel 5 / Viacom channels

Channel 5

World's Strongest Man (final) 01-Jan 1700
The Great Model Railway Challenge (first) 13-Sep 1063
The Great Gardening Challenge (first) 02-Jul 985
Blind Date 28-Apr 960
Keep Dancing 15 Years of Strictly Magic 14-Dec 676
When Game Shows Go Horribly Wrong (2017) 08-Nov 626
TV Talent Shows at War 14-Apr 588
Most shocking talent show moments 27-May 581
When Talent Shows Go Horribly Wrong 01-Jun 578
Celebrity Game Night 05-Apr 546
Celebs on the Farm (5star simulcast) 26-Aug 543
Gino's Win Your Wish List (first) 23-Jun 538

Channel 5 try their hardest, and we enjoyed Model Railway and Gardening Challenges.


Celebs on the Farm 02-Sep 202
Got Talent Ireland (first) 13-May 176
World's Strongest Man 29-Dec 149
Celebrity Game Night 10-Apr 46


Strongman Champions League 12-Jan 58


Strictly Come Dancing Before They Were Famous 28-Sep 45

Comedy Central

Blockbusters (celeb, new) 04-Apr 309
Your Face or Mine (new) 23-Oct 279
Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars (new) 09-Feb 178
Lip Sync Battle 27-Aug 102
Takeshi's Castle 11-Jul 77

Most weeks, Blockbusters was around 200,000, behind Your Face or Mine.


True Love or True Lies (new) 01-Nov 139
The Challenge (new) 01-May 75
Lip Sync Battle 30-Mar 56
Fear Factor 19-Jul 13
Rupaul's Drag Race All Stars 24-Nov 9

Still surprised that True Love or True Lies hasn't popped up on one of Viacom's free-to-air channels.


Double Dare 07-Apr 74
America's Most Musical Family 15-Nov 22

Both shows imported from their Stateside network. Which is remaking The Crystal Maze early next year, hint hint.

Paramount Network

Lip Sync Battle 27-Aug 56


Rupaul's Drag Race 12-Dec 31
Lip Sync Battle 04-May 26

Video Hits One hasn't played music in about three years, and closes early next month.


Lip Sync Battle 31-Dec 14

The erstwhile Black Entertainment Television is mostly soul music, with a smattering of games.

UKTV and Discovery channels


Taskmaster (new) 15-May 1344
Hypothetical (new) 13-Feb 539
Comedians Giving Lectures (first, new) 18-Sep 520
QI XL 29-Aug 443
Would I Lie to You 12-Jan 403
Have I Got a Bit More News for You 18-Aug 397
Mock the Week 08-Jun 311
QI 03-Oct 295
Room 101 22-Nov 278
Scrapyard Supercar (first, new) 04-Aug 264
Insert Name Here 04-Dec 246

UKTV's commissions involving comedians weren't particularly original, but they hit a popular bone.


Masterchef Down Under (new) 08-Aug 356
Masterchef Us (new) 19-Feb 249
Tipping Point 14-Dec 194
Masterchef Junior Us (new) 02-Aug 184

Fewer editions of Masterchef Around the World this year.


Antiques Road Trip 19-Feb 288
The Great Local Sewing Bee 07-Feb 133
Tipping Point 12-Feb 88


Bargain Hunt 17-Feb 172
Bake Off 07-Mar 160
The Great Interior Design Challenge 26-Feb 108
Masterchef Down Under 27-May 94
Sewing Bee 13-Jun 59

Food Network

Bake Off 30-Sep 124
Bake Off Creme de la Creme 09-Oct 93

Good Food

Bake Off 12-Jun 66
Bake Off Creme de la Creme 10-Jun 64
Great Local Menu 21-Jun 59

This channel closed in August, merged into Food Network.

Comcast / Sky channels

The Satellite Channel

A League of Their Own Eurotrip 10-Jan 1038
A League of Their Own (first) 22-Aug 840
There's Something About Movies 10-Oct 408

Neither The Simpsons nor TSC's efforts at comedy are games as we know them.


Portrait Artist of the Year 12-Mar 450
Landscape Artist of the Year 29-Oct 280
Master of Photography (first) 28-May 131
Celebrity Portrait Artist of the Year 05-Feb 61
Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 09-Feb 57

The Challenge Channel

The Chase 15-Jun 295
Who Wants to be a Millionaire 15-Jan 241
Pointless 30-Jun 205
Bullseye 21-Jan 194
Family Fortunes 01-Dec 183
Wheel of Fortune 02-Feb 149
Blankety Blank 09-Feb 143
Weakest Link 02-Oct 139
Catchphrase 02-Jun 130
Price is Right 16-Nov 122
Take Your Pick 22-Sep 122
The Cube 06-Jan 120
Strike it Lucky 02-Jun, 16-Jun 115
Eggheads 12-Feb 101
Supermarket Sweep 03-Nov 100
Deal or No Deal 18-Feb 90
Stake Out 09-Jun 81
Blockbusters 07-Apr 77
Hole in the Wall 06-Jan 73
Small Talk 09-Oct 73
Play Your Cards Right 24-May 66
Robot Wars 06-Jan 57
Golden Balls 08-May 52

Other operators


Bigg Boss 29-Dec 156
Rising Star 26-May 37
Kitchen Champion 30-Sep 35
Student of the Year 02-Nov 26
India's Got Talent 04-Feb 7

Aimed at the Indian subcontinent, and only partly in English.


This Territory's Next Top Model 08-Jul 15

Repeats from 2018.


Around the Horn 19-Mar 10

We deem this to be a game show, as there's a daily winner.

BT Sport 2

Call Yourself a Fan 10-Jun 2

The 2019 Roll of Honour

Christmas University Challenge – Peterhouse Cambridge (Dan Mazer, Mark Horton, Michael Howard, Michael Axworthy)
University Challenge – Edinburgh (Matt Booth, Marco Malusa, Max Fitz-James, Robbie Campbell Hewson)

Championship of Champions – Zarte Siempre
(June) – Dinos Sfyris
(December) – James Haughton

Eurovision: You Decide – "Bigger than us", written by Laurell Barker, John Lundvik, Jonas Thander, Anna-Klara Folin, performed by Michael Rice

Round Britain Quiz – North of England – Adele Geras and Stuart Maconie

Cân i Gymru – Elidyr Glyn for "Fel Hyn 'da Ni Fod", performed by himself

Dancing on Ice – James Jordan and Alexandra Schauman

Fferm Ffactor Y Selebs – Aeron Pughe, Elin Fflur, Dilwyn Morgan

RTE Dancing With the Stars – Mairéad Ronan and John Nolan
Strictly Come Dancing
Series – Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse
Christmas – Debbie McGee and Kevin Clifton

Masterchef – Irini Tzortzoglou
Celebrity Masterchef – Greg Rutherford
Masterchef The Professionals – Stu Deeley

This Territory's Got Talent
(TV3) – BSD
(ITV) – Colin Thackery
(Champions) – Twist and Pulse

Côr Cymru – Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion

The Voice of Holland of This Territory – Molly Hocking
The Voice of Holland of This Territory Kids – Sam Wilkinson

All Together Now – Shelly Ann Evans

Portrait Artist of the Year – Duncan Shoosmith
Landscape Artist of the Year – Fujiko Rose

Celebrity Big Painting Challenge – Josie d'Arby

Only Connect – Dicers (George Corfield, Joey Goldman, Hugh Binnie)

Brightest Family – Lee (Nathan, Rae, Richard)

Young Dancer – Max Revell

Eurovision Song Contest – "Arcade" for AVROTROS; written by Duncan Laurence, Joel Sjöö, Wouter Hardy; performed by Duncan Laurence
Eurovision Choir of the Year – Vocal Line, representing DR
Junior Eurovision – "Superstar" for TVP; written by Małgorzata “Lanberry” Uściłowska, Patryk Kumór, Dominic Buczkowski-Wojtaszek; performed by Viki Gabor

Fighting Talk – Martin Kelner

Fifteen-to-One – Andy Tucker

Ninja Warrior – Tim Champion

Mastermind – Judith Lewis

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
(lieder) Mingjie Lei
(overall) Andrei Kymach

Bake Off Crème de la Crème – Sam and Emmanuel from London Hilton Park Lane
Bake Off – David Atherton
Junior Bake Off – Fin

Brain of Britain – David Stainer

Rostrum Camera – Ken Morse

(spring) – Lou Sanders
(autumn) – Ed Gamble

Master of Photography – Jan Düfelsiek

Love Island – Greg O'Shea and Amber Gill

The Great Garden Challenge – Tamara Bridge and Kate Savill

BBC New Comedy Award – Stuart Buchanan

Step Up to the Plate
Kitchen crew – Mackenzie
Restaurant crew – Charlotte

Let the Peoples Sing – Barb Aros

One Man and His Dog
Young Handler – Tara Foley and Skye
Brace – Kevin Evans and Doug & Bec
Team – Erin McNaught and Sam, Kevin Evans and Doug & Bec (as "Wales")

Chwilio i Seren Junior Eurovision – Erin

The Great Model Railway Challenge – Railmen of Kent

True Love or True Lies – Poppy Moran and Parisa Tarjomani

Counterpoint – Brian Thompson

The X Factor Celebrity – Megan McKenna
The X Factor The Band – Real Like You

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – Jacqueline Jossa

Match of the Day Can You Kick It? – Sam

Top Class – Cobham Primary, Greater London (Sid, Aadam, Nagu, Anya, Mr. Hone)

Rhannu – Melfyn

Next year...

We've already previewed the New Year's week, so here are the highlights for the first full week of 2020.

Saturday 4 January sees lots of new series. BBC1 leads with The Greatest Dancer, Hacker T Dog and Mrs. McCluskey on Pointless Celebrities, and Jason Manford does First & Last. Over on ITV, it's Stephen Mulhern's Celebrity Catchphrase, mystery singing on The Masked Singer, more mystery singing on The Voice, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Sunday 5 January gives us Dancing on Ice, more Masked Singer and more Millionaire. Dancing With the Stars is back on RTÉ1.

Mastermind confirms its place on BBC2's Quizzy Mondays, before Only Connect and University Challenge. Celebrity Coach Trip kicks off on E4, Tenable is on ITV, and Antiques Road Trip returns to BBC1. Celebrity Countdown resumes (More4, weeknights). 8 Out of 10 Cats (E4) and Un Cwestiwn (S4C) kick off new series on Tuesday 7 Jan. CBBC finds the next star on Got What It Takes?, and The Great Pottery Throw Down slips into More4 (both Wed 8th). A League of Their Own are back in Europe (The Satellite Channel). Prue Leith joins the QI panel for "Quaffing" (BBC2, Fri 10th), and RuPaul's Drag Race UK reaches BBC1 (Fri 10th).

The Week will be operating at a slightly reduced rate next year, we're building in a week off each month so that we can maintain the quality you've become accustomed to. We expect to publish next on 12 January, covering everything we've seen over the Christmas period. Until then, we hope you have a tremendous start to the new year.

Photo credits: Thames and SyCo Entertainment, EBU / KAN, Possessed and 12 Yard, Remarkable (an EndemolShine company), Hungry Gap Productions in association with Century One Films, ITV Studios and Mitre Television, Youngest Media, Studio Lambert, Label 1 Television, Love Productions, ITV Studios, Optomen TV, Knickerbockerglory, Mighty Scotland, Boom Cymru, Lion Television (an All3Media company), Hat Trick, Thames, Little Gem, Znak & Co.

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