Weaver's Week 2023-01-01

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

2022 has certainly been a year.


Primetime hit – Limitless Win

The year was less than a week old when Limitless Win smashed onto our screens. Ant and Dec's new show promised a lot. It literally promised a prize without any limit; some of the press bumph said that they might bankrupt ITV. (Spoiler: it didn't bankrupt ITV.)

Limitless Win Ant and Dec wave goodbye to unimaginable amounts of money.

When we saw it, we saw a show that was almost there, but not quite right. An early quickfire round allowed the contestants to build up lives, and those lives allowed the contestants to be under the exact answer. But not over. They win money through getting exact answers – numeric questions answered correctly, not one under, not one over.

They tried to make some catchphrases. Exact answers bank cash. One over is game over, so it's always better to be under – that's what your lives are for. You've got a lifeline, we'll come back to it later. That didn't sound right; nor did the soundtrack, written by Dan Keen and Gary Barlow, and the subject of an interminable video on "how we composed the four-note five-beat stab".

Limitless Win Exact answer klaxon!

Ant and Dec made a complex rulebook seem breezy, but the show was a slog. Limitless Win dangled massive sums of money – over £1 million on occasion – while only offering £10,000. To reach a hundred grand takes half the whole show, and even the biggest wins feel underwhelming because the contestants could have won even more.

Limitless Win didn't financially bankrupt ITV, allowing the company to make a new series of Ninja Warrior. This went out in the autumn to a handful of viewers – often beaten in the ratings by House of Games, the Ninja Warrior was found to no great public interest.

The biggest flop of the year, in our view, was Unbreakable (2), a relationship show on BBC1. The first episode felt like an outward-bound "corporate awayday" put together by the most unimaginative person in HR. We completely forgot the second episode was on. The next one was replaced by a Boring People Talk About Boring Politics special, which almost held our attention.

Starstruck So I tried a little Freddie.

Starstruck was a modernist take on Stars In Their Eyes. The original series was a low-key bit of fun, the revival was a high-budget entertainment programme with a cash prize. The resident judges could have been replaced by a Jim Bowen Memorial Autocue Tombola saying "super", "smashing", "lovely", but the stars of the show were the performers and the performances. Big and bold, great singing, proper choreography.

Channel 4 had a primetime quiz. One Question was hosted by Claudia Winkleman, and was so simple anyone could understand it. One question. Twenty teasing clues to the answer. Which clue unlocks the right answer? There's a potential £100,000 to be won, there are clues to buy and helps to have. And it's all done under the charming assistance of Claudia Winkleman. She gets into the game with the contestants, really wants them to win, and ramps up the tension when it's needed. And it's always a gently meandering show, One Question doesn't bash us over the head. We hope for more next year.

One Question Lady One Question.

We might hope for more Crazy Contraptions, an inventive show fronted by Richard Hammond from Blast Lab.

BBC2's primetime quizzes continued. Clive Myrie completed his first series as Mastermind host, and it's hard to think of a time when he wasn't in charge. Only Connect continued to delight and confound and astound, as the teams pull off some of the most audacious feats of mental dexterity; Victoria Coren Mitchell makes sure we at home have a vague hope of understanding what's going on. Jeremy Paxman announced he was stepping down from University Challenge, effective at the end of the student series next spring. We'll have a full profile just before his final edition.

Daytime highlight – Bridge of Lies

Every so often, a show crosses our radar, and we think, "This is just brilliant." Bridge of Lies is this year's example.

Bridge of Lies Green to green in five minutes or less.

The idea is as simple as falling off a log. Our contestants are faced with a "bridge", a way to cross from the start to the finish. The bridge is made up of many individual circles, tessellated in a hexagonal pattern. The task is to step on the truths, and steer clear of the lies. Ross Kemp, our host, explains everything in the first 30 seconds of the show.

The rest is gentle peaks and troughs of tension. Will the contestant get the answers right? Have they pressed the "panic button" and saved their fellow? Did they press and cost money? The final round can be won through brute force, and we see this as a good thing to reward excellent teams.

Bridge of Lies No messing about on this show.

But the best thing about Bridge of Lies is Ross Kemp. Rarely has a new game show host walked in and said, yep, this is my show. Ross doesn't stamp his personality over the programme by force, he guides and cajoles and makes sure everyone's on top of all the little rules. We cannot imagine anyone else hosting the programme, and that's a remarkable result for a four-week commission. There will be more Bridge of Lies in the new year.

We couldn't imagine anyone but Richard Osman co-hosting Pointless, but it has happened. The tallest and nicest man on television closed his laptop in the summer, and has been replaced by a series of co-hosts. Sally Lindsey had the impossible task of being a direct replacement, Stephen Mangan played a similar character to Richard, and Lauren Laverne was so chatty she ought to be talking with the contestants. Richard's concentrated on House of Games, which has settled into a pleasant routine with similar prizes and rounds in the same place each week.

Richard Osman Particularly well done if you're Ingrid Oliver and you've got him at home.

Over on ITV, as many hits as misses. Words and words challenge Lingo continued to be very popular, Adil Ray makes for a relaxed and funny host. And that's why they replaced him with RuPaul for Celebrity Lingo, and that's why Celebrity Lingo was so unloved. It's Adil Ray's show, nobody else go near. Tipping Point and The Chase continued, there were new episodes of Tenable, but Winning Combination found itself locked out of the schedules.

Riddiculous was a very decent game, with plenty of promise for future series. Ranvir Singh and Henry Lewis ask general knowledge questions and wordplay riddles, with the best teams able to win a few thousand pounds in one hour. As a first series, there are a few rough edges – we'd love to see a bit more riddle and a bit less quiz, and the judging can appear a little odd – but the chemistry between the regulars is excellent.

Riddiculous Henry Lewis, daytime's best (and only) riddlemaster

No such chemistry on Fastest Finger First, a one-hour quiz for the dubious pleasure of appearing on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. While Fastest Finger First had a host you can introduce to your mother (Anita Rani is always worth watching), the show suffered from having the same two ideas repeated over and over until it got boring.

Channel 5's daytime game shows were Eggheads, and that's it. Channel 4 had a new idea, Fame in the Family. Contestants are taken out for dinner by a famous star, and the star's job is to work out who they're distantly related to. Seventh cousin twice removed, or something like that. The show could have been dull and technical, but turned out to be pleasant – and brisk – talks about people's lives and those of their immediate family. The prize is a device to encourage the conversation.

Countdown play was as high as ever – Dan Byrom and Matt O'Connor went toe-to-toe through the spring series. Tom Stevenson set a single-game record in September, and was pushed all the way by Edward Byrne (Countdown contestant, not rugby player, or comedian, or disgraced politician).

Countdown Moira Stuart, doogy rev, doogy rev.

The show got through presenters even faster than this column demolishes bread and butter pudding. The year started with Anne Robinson still glowering over the show, but then the winds blew and the raincloud of gloom was blown away. Colin Murray came in with a much more relaxed and chatty approach, and within weeks we'd forgotten the Robinson error.

But there was more. Colin fell ill, and had to be replaced at very short notice by Les Dennis and Jenny Eclair. He took November off, as Countdown paid tribute to its 40th birthday by inviting in some television legends. Floella Benjamin was charming, Richard Coles was brilliant, Trevor McDonald had a brilliant double-act with his guest Bobby Seagull, and Moira Stuart was cool and calm and charming. We'll happily see any of these folk again, and it's great that Countdown has recovered its place as a pleasant afternoon distraction.

Export of the year: The 1% Club

Take 100 people. Put them into an arena. Ask them brainteasers of increasing difficulty. Anyone who gets eight right in a row can claim £1000; anyone who gets fourteen right can win up to £100,000. Lee Mack's show arrived on ITV in April, and became an instant overnight hit.

The 1% Club The three finalists got the 5% question - and all others - right.

Lots of secrets to this show's success. It's not about general knowledge like every other quiz on television: these are logic problems, questions of observation and pattern. It's not pitched at an absurdly difficult level like Only Connect, instead The 1% Quiz starts with very simple questions that almost anyone can answer.

It's a show you've got to play along with at home; like Countdown, you cannot be a passive viewer, you're working through all the twizzlers. But if one of the questions is beyond you, Lee Mack's going to give a one-line joke, and it's only 30 seconds before he'll explain the answer.

In, and out, and overseas.

And they're able to build up tension, follow interesting people through the game until they get something wrong or reach the final. Most of the 100 start and finish as anonymous faces on screen; a few emerge as personalities. Lee Mack gets to draw out the fun, and he always lifts people up, never puts them down. Big winners have proven their ability; anyone making the final has proven they're a cut above the rest.

The 1% Club is relatively easy to export internationally – about half of the questions can be re-used directly, and they're likely to be of similar difficulty everywhere. We've seen a straightforward remake in the Netherlands, and a two-hour spectacular in France (where the Lee Mack equivalent does do a tap-dancing routine). It's also been licensed for Australia, Spain, Israel, Germany, and the US.

The Wheel NBC's got that sinking feeling.

We hope they meet with greater success than NBC's The Wheel: the spinny show hosted by Michael McIntyre is popular for our Saturday night, but has died a death on weeknights at 10pm (9 central). It's only getting 1.4 million viewers! In a land of 330 million!

A similar number of people watched NBC's local attempt at the Eurovision Song Contest in the spring, won by the Oklahoma entrant, just like the softball tournament. NBC also got to show the Senior Eurovision Song Contest, where the BBC entry was a shock and a surprise. It wasn't rubbish! It was very good! "Space man", performed by Sam Ryder, was the jury favourite, and only a massive televote in favour of "Stefania" was able to defeat it.

Because "Stefania" represented UA:PBC of Ukraine, it's not possible to hold the grand final in Kyiv right at the moment. Yes, they have some well-appointed stages deep in the bowels of their metro stations, but they also have power cuts, and the event would be an obvious target for the enemies of humanity. The BBC agreed to step into the breach, and will host next year's contest in Liverpool. The Beeb also made their debut in Junior Eurovision, "Lose my head" only went and won the televote! Quite clearly, after two decades of indifferent-to-rubbish entries, someone at the BBC has worked out how this Eurovision lark works.

One and Six Zeros Dara's quiz was a binary option.

We might have hoped that One and Six Zeros would be an export success, but we don't think it will be. Dara Ó Briain hosted this Channel 4 quiz, where the objective is to give seven correct answers, and potentially win a million quid. Errors and passes soon knock the prize down, members of the team are knocked back to an ante-room, and teams do well to escape with more than a few grand.

The idea is sound – achieve a target to add a nought to your prize pot – but the execution wasn't. The show was played with a remarkable lack of energy, considering that they're literally playing for a life-changing amount of money. We still think it would work better as a unifying theme for a mixed bag of challenges. Some of the challenges might come from That's My Jam (BBC1), which we'll review more fully in two weeks' time.

BBC2 had Top Takeaways, asking which was the best chippie / Chinese / Indian around? The format made it to Ireland under the better title Takeaway Titans.

Import of the year: The Traitors

Mark your calendars, we will review The Traitors on 22 January. And there will be spoilers from the start to the final episode.

The Traitors made for compelling television. There were exercises to bond the team together, have them work to raise the pot. There were exercises to rip the team apart, ask them to exclude one person from the game every day. All human life is here, from the naif to the dear granny, from the alpha male to the – ok, that would be a spoiler.

The Traitors Even the condiments had something to say.

It was like a hammy over-dramatised daytime soap opera, improvised by real people. Some of them were being eliminated at the whim of other players, and the series builds to a seriously large jackpot. The prospect of £100,000 concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Claudia Winkleman hosted the show, and brought a unique perspective to the job. We could almost believe that the luxurious castle was her personal property, and these were twenty guests from a dinner party that lasted a full fortnight. The Traitors was the first show we've seen to have a pour-your-own bar on set, and at times it felt like it might tip over into a Bacchanalian orgy. Probably not the first Bacchanalian orgy attended by Claudia.

The Traitors Certainly not the first attended by someone in a turtleneck.

But we didn't watch The Traitors to see other people get drunk. We knew who the Traitors were, who was in the team-within-a-team, the regular players didn't. That is the literal definition of dramatic irony, and there was plenty of drama to go around. So much drama that the head of drama wondered "where has all the drama gone, and why is it under Claudia Winkleman's pillow?"

If you're unsure whether to watch, do your best to stick through the first episode. If you want to bail, we respect that choice. Should you still not be sure, stick to the end of episode four; you'll know for sure by then.

Are You the One? UK Much whooping and hollering.

MTV made a new reality show of their own. Are You the One? took twenty singletons, and prepared "perfect" matches for each of them. The aim: for each of the couples to pair off. Special difficulty: there's only a limited number of chances to find the chosen matches. It's an import from MTV's American arm, so is done with even more pomp and self-importance than is humanly possible, with contestants a-whoopin' and a-hollerin' at the drop of a hat.

While the series was perfectly watchable, we found that a lot of contestants were relegated to the sidelines for many episodes, and the plotlines were repetitive. It's a show in the Love Island universe, laidback and sweet and honest. A weekly drama of little consequence.

Surprise of the year: The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver

Game shows always have the power to say something. Not just something within the show's universe, but something about the greater culture or society. Jamie Oliver's competition series said a lot about cookery, and publishing, and publishing about cookery.

The Great Cookbook Challenge Want to know how to cook this? Tough.

The basic idea was simple: one chef is going to publish their own cookery book. Big and glossy, with lots of photographs. And it's going to be launched with a seven-hour advertising campaign on Channel 4. During the series, the chefs made dishes from their book, to demonstrate the idea to two professional cooks and one publisher. They can get some help from Jamie Oliver, but don't have to have him interfere with their cookery.

It quickly became clear that the panel were going to take the path of least resistance: cater to the whims and fashions of the day. Out went books on bread and cheese and anything too "cheffy", in came exotic cuisines and food made to a budget. They're not looking for a great cookbook, but a big-selling cookbook.

The Great Cookbook Challenge Anything I can do to help?
Yeah, begone.

Later episodes gave the chefs chance to discuss other recipes from their book. It turned out to be a competition about presentation and selling, not about cookery at all. The judges imposed their prejudices on contestants – rejecting a book aimed at teenagers with the patronising comment that "teenagers won't understand a miso". They have unorthodox ideas about dan dan noodles, and at one point claimed "You eat with your eyes!"

The final winner was "Dominique's Kitchen", a brief whizz around Asian food. It seems to have sold solidly, and the reviews online are very good – though whether this reflects genuine customer sentiment or Jamie Oliver's fans is another question. But the series told us a lot about the publishing industry, how it's all look and feel and promotion and appearance.

The Great Cookbook Challenge The winning book and its author.

Promotion and appearance were the cornerstones of ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, where disgraced former politician Matt Hancock and disgraced former comedian Seann Walsh tried to rehabilitate their careers in the jungle. It's not clear if either man found redemption.

Hancock was also promoting his book, which was outsold by "Dominique's Kitchen", and the latest one by Richard Osman, and the latest one by David Walliams. And "Only Connect The Puzzle Book So Difficult To Find You Can't Find It", and by "The Flightpath of the Kampuchean Moth", and by "The Beano Book 2024".

While politicians were playing silly games, Channel 4 showed wannabe politicians playing silly games. Make Me Prime Minister sought policies to improve the life of the general public, to launch them to the far-right frotherati, and defend them to the public. It's all look and feel and promotion and appearance; at no stage were the politicos asked to talk with experts in the field about their policies.

Make Me Prime Minister Why did the politician dress up as a robot?

And at no stage will they be assessed by experts: when the public didn't decide who won, the task fell to Alistair Campbell (never run for public office) and Sayeeda Warsi (stood once, lost once, gave up). "Why did you use a missile to blow up a building in a foreign land?" asked Campbell to one team. "We're following your example," the reply not given.

Make Me Prime Minister held up a mirror to the political classes: full of themselves, and divorced from the rest of us. People who know what they're talking about are ignored, there's too much credence to a cannibalistic group of "journalists", spin and presentation is everything. Nobody on this show is able to call on actual solid facts. It's all opinions and emotions and bluster and waffle. When ideology meets the real world, the real world will kick your philosophy where it really hurts.

Ask Kwasi Kwarteng, the University Challenge winner was promoted into his dream job as finance minister. His policies were rejected by the real world, and managed to crash the economy as his dreams became everyone else's nightmares. Fired after 5½ weeks, Dr. Kwarteng left a massive mess for less incompetent people to clear up.

The Games The end of another tough week.

ITV also had two surprise shows, though not in a good way. The Games was a surprisingly humdrum week of famous people doing sport, training and competing in their little bubbles. It suffered from being absolutely live, they could have recorded a little earlier in the night and trimmed out some of the flubs and goofs – but that would require sharp editing. The celebrities did their best, but the show didn't have all the drama we saw on E4 a decade back.

Romeo & Duet was this year's equivalent of The Void, an interesting idea that simply didn't work. One person stood on a balcony, and was serenaded by potential partners. Which will they pick? Will they be tempted to come down to look at the singer? And will this be the audience's favourite couple of the night, the only pair to win an actual date as a prize?

The problem is that there are two ideas here. One: pick a partner for your singing voice, and the best couple of the night wins. Two: find romance and love. And these two ideas don't mesh together, they're often pulling in opposite directions. If music is the food of love, we'll eat it with our eyes.

For the young: Game On, Grandparents!

There were lots of great shows for children this year. Our favourite was Game On, Grandparents!, where children teach their granny or grandpa how to play video games. There's a lot of fun as we see the first faltering attempts, and proper achievement as we see the grandparent improve their game.

Game on Grandparents How do you get to level four? Practice, Gran, practice.

Family bonding is important, and we see the children do some of the chores and social activities usually done by their older relative. There's a social activity to meet the opposition, and the final race is treated as a proper sports event, in front of a crowd. There's plenty of time for the generations to spend together, a welcome change from the enforced partition of recent years. Everyone comes away with a new skill, and everyone has a great time.

CBBC has three core aims. 1) Expand your horizons. 2) Build solidarity in your society. 3) Be creative. Game On, Grandparents! hits all three aims, and does so with joy across its face. Gently improve your audience while they're enjoying themselves, it's a perfect example of Rethian broadcasting. (Ask your grandparents.)

Britain's Best Young Artist Art for all.

These aims were also shown in Best Young Artist, where a group of young artists are set challenges, with the best progressing to the final. There are trips to get the creative juices flowing, take sketches, think about what you're going to make in the competition. Vick Hope was a familiar face, Ricky Wilson proved to be both a familiar face and a visual artist in his own right.

And there was encouragement for all viewers, not just those with existing talent. Everyone has a go, even Vick who isn't as good as Ricky or the guest judge. The tone is positive, works get appreciated not deconstructed. It'll have inspired viewers to make art of their own.

We'd love to tell you about the many shows commissioned by CITV and Nickleodeon. We can't, because there are no shows. The Young Audiences Content Fund was a small amount of money to help the commercial channels make relevant shows for domestic consumption. But the YACF was closed by stupid Nadine Dorries, the stupid Minister Against Broadcasting. Although she's been reshuffled to the irrelevance she deserves, the legacy of her stupid decisions remains.

Gwrach y Rhibyn Don't be out after nightfall, otherwise her minions will get you.

S4C had a new idea, Gwrach y Rhibyn, a cross between the outdoors show Y Gemau Gwyllt and the escape room Prosiect Z. The aim is to finish a course of clues within eight hours, and not be caught by the night witch. There's lots of shots of Wales at its wildest, and some locations we wouldn't normally get to – abandoned mines, sea kayaking, a ship used as a hotel. The game isn't brilliant, it feels like only the final challenge is timed, but that doesn't distract from a decent programme.

For slightly older viewers, BBC3 returned to linear television – we could see it through our television set without reaching for the internet. New games included The Fast and the Farmer-ish, we never thought competitive tractor driving would be interesting. Hungry for It tried to convince young people to cook for themselves, though ITV2 might have had a better show with Bad Chefs. ITV2 also had Love Island, which seemed to dominate conversation during June and July.

The greatest thing about BBC3 being back on linear television is the sheer serendipity. We flick around the channels, and stumble across something compelling. For this column, the best bit was My Insta Scammer Friend, the remarkable story of an "influencer" who completely invented her life, at one point selling an ineffectual product called "Snake oil". We had to check afterwards to see if the show was a drama posing as a documentary. Apparently it's real life, and Caroline Calloway is a real person. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Song of the year – "Snap", by Rosa Linn, Larzz Principato, Jeremy Dusoulet, Allie Crystal, Tamar Kaprelian, and Courtney Harrell

There are many ways to win at Eurovision. Many broadcasters say that getting to Saturday night is a win, it proves to the rest of the world that your little state really does exist and isn't a misplaced cake-crumb on the map. Ask Systur.

Or you can receive a massive wodge of points, the wodginess of which is never going to be repeated. Kalush Orchestra got that record-breaking wodge this year.

Eurovision Song Contest Winners.

Or you can exceed the very limited expectations from many many years of failure, and return home a national hero. That's Chanel. That's Sam Ryder.

Or you can write and then promote a song that gets into everybody's head, with an incredibly catchy hook and simple language. "Volare, oh-oh-oh" transcends language. "Ooh! Aah! Just a little bit!" is simple English. So is "One! Two! Where are you!".

Eurovision Song Contest Sam Ryder, hailed as a winner in his homeland.

Back in 2017, young student Roza Kostandyan was on an exchange programme in the United States. She met someone, fell in love, and there was a short-lived romance. On a Thursday in late June, it all went wrong. Roza returned to Armenia, moped about for a bit, licked her wounds, and got the bad stuff out of her system in the best way she knew – wrote a song about it.

By 2019, Roza had the confidence to perform the song in public, just a verse, and just at the local village festival. By good fortune, a talent scout from a record label was in the audience, and invited Roza to their company's songwriting camp for women. "We recognise that talent is equally distributed – but opportunity isn't," said Tamar Kaprelian to Billboard magazine.

"Snap" was incubated and refined, tweaked and improved, made to work for people who speak English as a second or third language. The song never lost its emotional core: the pain of senseless rejection by some pillock a continent away, how it takes time to heal the wounds, and the inadvertent pain caused by other people wanting to accelerate the process. And how time does heal the wounds, life really does get better.

"Snap" went to local radio stations around Yerevan last autumn, and was picked by AMPTV as their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. A video was filmed, with a house seeming to land in Yerevan's main square. Rosa enjoyed support from the start – 2014 entrant Aram MP3 was at the video shoot, label boss Tamar Kaprelian was one-fifth of 2015 entry Genealogy.

When we reached Turin, we found the staging was memorable, as we described at the time.

Eurovision Song Contest

"Snap" features a massive prop, a three-sides shell of Rosa's actual bedroom. The real-life Balestrand and Brusali are remade in the Pösttit range. As the song progresses, the shell rotates by 180 degrees – yes, it feels a bit queasy, and that's the effect they want to bring about. Life is strange, unsettling, and better than the alternatives.

"Snap" qualified for the final, where it finished a long way down the board, eclipsed by hand-washing and runaway trains and the one with broken chairs. And that's the end of the story, right?

Wrong. There was always something about "Snap": once heard, never forgotten. This column literally could not get it out of our head for a week, and then we stopped trying. Rosa Linn promoted the song on TikTok, putting out acoustic performances and behind-the-scenes shots and new mixes. A sped-up version proved to be the best launchpad, sending the tune into a million people's videos.

International success followed. "Snap" picked up some plays on German hit music radio during June, and started to make national charts in late July. By the beginning of September, "Snap" was absolutely everywhere; it's been a number one airplay hit in France and Germany, top of the streaming charts in both of Belgium's languages, and in the Netherlands, and in Sweden, and top five in Poland, and number one at American "adult alternative" radio. It's one of the consensus hits of the year, file alongside "Cold heart" and "As it was" and "I'm good" and "Anti-hero".

"Break my heart, and I'll write a song about you."

Even the painfully insular radio programmers in London cracked, and started playing "Snap" in early September. By a painful happenstance, Rosa's one gig in London was on the night Elizabeth Windsor died, and radio went all sorts of strange for the week after, and programmers could conveniently forget that "Snap" remained popular.

By then, Rosa Linn had signed a record deal with Columbia Records. She's been writing songs with Dan Wilson (from Semisonic, wrote "Someone like you" with Adele) and Diane Warren ("How do I live" for Leann Rimes, "Rhythm of the night" for Debarge, "It's my time" for Jade Ewen). There are plans for an album, though without a timeline – Rosa is "very picky" and wants to remain "personal and honest".

All this time, "Snap" continues to pick up streams. It's become the second-most streamed song in Eurovision history, behind only "Arcade". Duncan Laurence and Rosa worked together on "Would do it again", a gentle ballad that came out in the autumn. We could tell that "Snap" had won when Rosa rearranged her schedule to perform at Junior Eurovision; the hometown crowd welcomed their conquering hero, because they've not had a world-conquering hero before.

“Snap" is this column's song of the year. It’s gone straight into the global culture, a touchstone for anyone who has ever been let down. A massive group hug for a massive group.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Back for the big night in Yerevan.

Ratings watch

BARB, the company that compiles the television ratings, has made it impossible for us to provide the traditional channel-by-channel breakdown of the year's most-seen shows. All we can provide is the 2022 overall top twenty, and the week-by-week winners.

We're using "seven-day ratings", these include people who watch on TV or a computer within seven days of the original broadcast. Viewers prior to broadcast are not included, people who catch up are. SD, HD, and +1 channels are all combined.

Top twenty

One entry per show per channel, just the most-seen programme.

Channel Programme Title Shown Rating ('000s)
ITV I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! [first] 06/11 12,340
BBC1 Strictly Come Dancing [final] 17/12 10,610
BBC1 Eurovision Song Contest [final] 14/05 9301
Channel 4 Bake Off [final] 11/10 8317
ITV Got Talent [first] 16/04 8309
ITV Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway [first] 19/02 7456
ITV The Masked Singer [final] 12/02 7306
BBC1 Michael McIntyre's The Wheel 25/12 6135
ITV Ant & Dec's Limitless Win [first] 08/01 5615
ITV2 Love Island 07/07 5299
BBC1 Have I Got News for You 04/11 5263
ITV The 1% Club 21/05 5128
ITV Dancing on Ice 16/01 5030
BBC1 Masterchef The Professionals 11/12 5029
BBC1 The Weakest Link 17/12 4913
BBC1 Sewing Bee [first] 04/05 4880
BBC1 Blankety Blank 12/11 4836
BBC1 The Traitors [final] 22/12 4728
BBC2 Sewing Bee [final] 29/06 4492
ITV Celebrity Catchphrase 15/01 4486

The final of Sewing Bee was moved at very short notice from BBC1 to BBC2; next on the list is The Voice final. Also more than 4 million viewers: Starstruck, The Masked Singer, Dragons' Den, Would I Lie to You?, MasterChef, The Great Celebrity Bake Off, and The Hit List.

Weekly winners

Top game show, and top quiz show (questions and points or cash), in each week. We define "week" as Monday to Sunday.

Week Saturday date Overall Quiz
1 08/01 The Masked Singer Ant & Dec's Limitless Win
2 15/01 The Masked Singer Ant & Dec's Limitless Win
3 22/01 The Masked Singer Ant & Dec's Limitless Win
4 29/01 The Masked Singer Michael McIntyre's The Wheel
5 05/02 The Masked Singer Ant & Dec's Limitless Win
6 12/02 The Masked Singer The Chase
7 19/02 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Celebrity Catchphrase
8 26/02 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway The Chase
9 05/03 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway The Chase
10 12/03 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway The Chase
11 19/03 Dancing on Ice The Chase
12 26/03 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Celebrity Catchphrase
13 02/04 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway The Chase
14 09/04 Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway The 1% Club
15 16/04 Got Talent The 1% Club†
16 23/04 Got Talent The 1% Club
17 30/04 Got Talent The 1% Club
18 07/05 Got Talent The 1% Club
19 14/05 Eurovision Song Contest The 1% Club
20 21/05 Got Talent The 1% Club
21 28/05 Got Talent The 1% Club
22 04/06 Sewing Bee unknown
23 11/06 Love Island The Chase
24 18/06 Sewing Bee Epic Gameshow
25 25/06 Sewing Bee Epic Gameshow
26 02/07 Love Island The Chase*
27 09/07 Love Island The Chase
28 16/07 Love Island The Chase
29 23/07 Love Island The Chase
30 30/07 Love Island The Chase
31 06/08 Love Island The Chase*
32 13/08 Celebrity Masterchef The Chase*
33 20/08 Celebrity Masterchef The Chase
34 27/08 Celebrity Masterchef The Chase
35 03/09 Have I Got News for You special Who Wants to be a Millionaire
36 10/09 The Voice Who Wants to be a Millionaire
37 17/09 Bake Off Who Wants to be a Millionaire
38 24/09 Strictly Come Dancing The Hit List†
39 01/10 Strictly Come Dancing The Chase†
40 08/10 Strictly Come Dancing The Chase†
41 15/10 Strictly Come Dancing Only Connect†
42 22/10 Strictly Come Dancing The Chase†
43 29/10 Strictly Come Dancing Michael McIntyre's The Wheel†
44 05/11 Strictly Come Dancing Michael McIntyre's The Wheel†
45 12/11 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Michael McIntyre's The Wheel
46 19/11 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Michael McIntyre's The Wheel
47 26/11 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Michael McIntyre's The Wheel
48 03/12 I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! The Chase
49 10/12 Strictly Come Dancing The 1% Club
50 17/12 Strictly Come Dancing The Weakest Link
51 24/12 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special Michael McIntyre's The Wheel
52 31/12 The Masked Singer** The Weakest Link

No quizzes made the top 50 in week 22, when ITV ratings were unavailable. We expect that The Chase would have taken the week.

* – These quizzes were probably beaten by Popmaster on Radio 2 – the weekly reach for this half-hour is between 3.2 and 3.4 million, we've assumed 2.5 million listeners per day for Ken Bruce's contest.
† – These quizzes were beaten by Blankety Blank and/or Have I Got News for You – shows that could be quizzes if you squint enough.
** – The Masked Singer aired on 1 January 2023; the top game show airing in 2022 was The Weakest Link.

The Roll of Honour

(All results as transmitted are final)

Only Connect – Data Wizards (Claire Turner, Jonathan Cairns, Tim Brown)

Yn y Ffram – Hanna Baguley

Junior Bake Off – Kezia
Bake Off Crème de la Crème – Nathan and Kevin
Senior Bake Off – Syabira Yusoff

Eurosong '22 – "That's rich", composed by Brooke Scullion, Karl Zine, Izzy Warner, performed by Brooke
Junior Eurovision (TG4) – Sophie Lennon

The Masked Singer

The Masked Singer – Natalie Imbruglia as Panda
The Masked Dancer – Heather Morris as Scissors

Glór Tire – Aishling Rafferty

Landscape Artist of the Year – Elisha Enfield
Portrait Artist of the Year – Morag Caister

Best Young Artist – Abbie

500 Questions – Lewcario

Cân i Gymru – "Mae yna le" by Rhydian Meilir, performed by Ryland Teifi

The Great Pottery Throw Down – AJ Simpson

The Great Cookbook Challenge – Dominique Woolf, for "Let's Cook Asian" (eventually released as "Dominique's Kitchen")

The Big Design Challenge – Annabel Maguire

The Fast and the Farmer-ish – The Bogmen (Parky, Daniel, Wayne)

Counterpoint – Frankie Fanko

Strictly Come Dancing

RTÉ Dancing with the Stars – Nina Carberry and Pasquale La Rocca
Strictly Come Dancing – Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal
Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special – Alexandra Mardell and Kai Widdrington

Dancing on Ice – Regan Gascoigne and Karina Manta

Home of the Year Ireland – Kate and Shane Byrne for a 150-year-old farmhouse with modern extension in County Wicklow
Scotland – New Tolsta near Stornoway, for owner Tom Hickman
Scotland Christmas – Easter Shian Farmhouse near Dunkeld, for owners Dave Evans and Debbie Halls-Evans
Wales – Little Castle Cottage in Kidwelly, for owner Luke Thomas
Garden of the Year – Stretton Old Hall near Malpas in Cheshire

Starstruck – Rachael Hawnt as Cher

Côr Cymru – Côrdydd

Drag Race – Blu Hydrangea

University Challenge – Imperial College London (Max Zeng, Fatima Sheriff, Gilbert Jackson, and captain Michael Mays)
Christmas University Challenge – Balliol Oxford (Elizabeth Kiss, Andrew Copson, Martin Edwards, Martin O'Neill)


Mastermind – Alice Walker

Interior Design Masters – Banjo Beale

Masterchef – Eddie Scott
Celebrity Masterchef – Lisa Snowdon
Masterchef The Professionals – Nikita Pathakji

The Games – Chelcee Grimes and Wes Nelson

BBC Young Dancer – Adhya Shastry

Eurovision Song Contest – "Stefania" for UA:PBC, music by Ihor Didenchuk, Vitalii Duzhyk, Tymofi Muzychuk; lyric by Ivan Klymenko, Oleh Psiuk, performed by Kalush Orchestra
Junior Eurovision – "O maman" for France Télévisions, music by Frédéric Chateau; lyric by Frédéric Chateau and Barbara Pravi, performed by Lissandro

The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge – Dom Kane

Fighting Talk – Neil Delamere

All-Day Popmaster – Gary Bliss
Popmaster – David Ogilvy

Got Talent – Axel Blake

Crazy Contraptions – Fieldhouse Brothers (Adam, Damian and Robin Fieldhouse)

Rostrum Camera – Ken Morse

Around The Islands Quiz – South of England (Paul Sinha and Marcus Berkmann)


Taskmaster (spring) – Sophie Duker
(champion of champions) – Lee Herring
(autumn) – Dara Ó Briain

Countdown (June) – Dan Byrom
(December) – Tom Stevenson

Sewing Bee – Annie

Glow Up – Yong-Chin Marika Breslin

Eurovision Young Musicians – Daniel Matejča (violin)

Hungry For It – Amelia Ng

Game On, Grandparents! – Oscar and John

All That Glitters – Piers Carpenter

Bad Chefs – Michael

One Man and His Dog – North Hill Tess and Tom O'Sullivan

Ninja Warrior – Beth Lodge and Fred Dorrington

The Voice of Holland of This Territory – Anthonia Edwards
The Voice Kids – Israella

BBC New Comedy Award – Dan Tiernan

Handmade – Lauren Wood

Unbreakable (2) – Denise Welch and Lincoln Townley

BBC Brain – Sarah Trevarthen

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – Jill Scott

Coming up...

We won't publish next week, so here's a two-week guide. New Year's Day: Taskmaster's New Year Treat and Bake Off (C4). Stephen Mulhern's Celebrity Catchphrase and The Masked Singer (ITV). World's Strongest Man concludes (C5). And a classic series of Come Dancing is to be repeated (BBC4).

Holiday Monday: New run of Lingo (ITV), and Young Masterchef (BBC3) is for teens and twentysomethings, while Countdown begins a championship of champions (C4). Later in the week, Take a Hike returns (BBC2, from Tuesday), and say "gronda" to a new series of Dragons' Den (BBC1, Thursday).

Next Saturday has more from The Masked Singer and Limitless Win, while Salt 'n' Pepa are on That's My Jam (BBC1). Sunday sees The Great Pottery Throw Down return (C4). Monday the 9th has a new series of Counterpoint (Radio 4).

Until then, we wish you a very happy new year, and may all your games be very good ones.

Picture credits: Hello Dolly and Mitre Studios, Remarkable Television (a Banijay company), Chalkboard TV and Motion Content Group, STV Studios, BAFTA, East Media, Magnum Media, Bluecode (a Fremantle Media company), Hungry McBear Media, Studio Lambert Scotland, Lime Pictures in association with Malta Film Commission, Plum Pictures and Jamie Oliver Productions, Twofour and Accidentally On Purpose in association with Motion Content Group, Initial (a Banijay company), Electric Robin (a Banijay company), BBC Children's Productions, EBU / Corinne Cumming, Instagram/@rosalinnmusic, Bandicoot Scotland, BBC Studios, Hat Trick / Hindsight, Avalon Television, Potato.

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day, receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers, sign up to our Google Group.

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in