Josh Must Win



Nick Grimshaw

Narrator: Diane Morgan


Pete Wicks, Amber Gill, Vicky Pattison


Primal Media and Group M Entertainment for E4, 25 March to 9 April 2024 (8 episodes in 1 series)


Four celebrities take control of a reality show called "The Favourite", and engineer it for the underdog Josh to win.

We'll take this review from two angles: the show people thought they were on, and the show we viewers got to see.

The Favourite

Welcome to The Favourite.

These people think they're here to play The Favourite, a popularity contest being filmed for telly. Nick Grimshaw hosts, there are challenges and stunts, and at the end of the week-long series, the winner will get £10,000.

Every day, the players on The Favourite get to nominate their most favourite and least favourite player. The least favourite player is up for eviction, along with someone nominated by the most favourite player.

Who goes? That's decided by the viewers, who interact with the show and make their decision.

After the day's loser has been named, they say their goodbyes, and join Nick Grimshaw in a small room for the exit interview.

The Favourite follows the grammar and syntax of every reality show this century.

But then there's a surprise.

Let's meet the celebrity panel.

If Josh wins, everybody wins

Behind the scenes, in a control room in the other half of the mansion, four celebrities are controlling what happens in the game. They have one objective: make sure Josh wins The Favourite. If and when that happens, every competitor will split the prize fund, so it's £10,000 each.

Who is Josh?

Josh is a young man in his early-to-mid twenties. A mop of tousled dark hair, spectacles, perhaps light freckles. There is an indefinable slightness about him: Josh is the sort of person who will slink into a room. Josh will not burst through the door and declaim "Josh! Is! Here!" and demand everyone stop whatever unimportant thing they're doing to pay him attention.

Josh is a bit reserved, not utterly outgoing, perhaps a little shy and overwhelmed in unfamiliar situations. Once you do get to know him, you find Josh is genuine and charming and witty and a good person to be around.

Josh is in a house with loud people, big egos and no shortage of self-importance. They're loud and imposing. The sort of person who will burst through the door, declaim "The winner! Is! Here!" and feed off the oxygen of everyone's attention.

They're only watching the game. Controlling it.

Doing what they can to help Josh win are host Nick Grimshaw, and three reality show veterans: Pete Wicks from The Only Way is Essex, Amber Gill from Love Island, and Vicky Pattison from Geordie Shore.

They're able to pick the challenge to suit Josh's needs, and manipulate it to show him in the best light - or to show other people as less impressive. Which is more entertaining: two fitness gurus talking for hours about their favourite exercises, or Josh giving us a demonstration of how to win a wrestling bout?

Our money's on the wrestler.

The celebrity panel also decide who leaves the game each night, from the two offered for eviction. A very simple choice when Josh is up for the chop, much more subtle when he's not - where does the power lie in the house, who is a threat to our favourite?

The prize money for the series would be divided amongst all contestants if Josh won. It's £10,000 to start the series, plus £10,000 for each day he's not up for eviction; with strategic use of double money days, the final fund reached £100,000 to be split ten ways.

"Guests" dropped into the mansion, including The Only Way is Essex legend Gemma Collins. When the GC says someone is her favourite, that is a proper celebrity endorsement, it changes minds because they trust Gemma.

Gemma Collins would vote Josh.

In the event, Josh did win; the panel only had to save him from eviction once, and Josh received the favourite votes of all three other finalists.

Josh Must Win had a subtle educational vibe. It was a worked example of how other television competitions and reality shows might be manipulated to paint someone in a good light. Sure, this show was light-hearted and everyone won, but other programmes might use some of the tactics to alter people's opinions in a negative way. Viewer, beware!


Originally piloted under the working title Alan Must Win. Billed in some listings sources as The Underdog: Josh Must Win.

The show credited Nick Grimshaw as "Host", and Diane Morgan as "Narrator". Nick spoke to the contestants, Diane to the viewers at home.

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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