Weaver's Week 2012-01-01

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Happy new year! We're far too full of chocolate and liqueur to present a new Week, so here's some edited highlights from last year.



2011 began in January, as is traditional. The Epicureans had a come-from-behind win in the Only Connect Championship of Champions, and Ian Bayley led his Crossworders past the 2010 University Challenge winners.

Channel 4 brought us their big new show, Some People You've Probably Heard Of And Some More You've Not and Not Tremendously Fear Inducing This Is It. Here, some mildly famous people did stuff that yer average Blue Peter presenter does without breaking sweat. Street luge? Pah. Try crossing Antarctica. The most spectacle of the show was on the host's face. Later in the year, new channel controller Jay Hunt said C4 was right to try Famous and Fearless. She said it wasn't "big enough" and that the channel needs to take risks. "Jump off a cliff, just make sure you have a parachute."

Also in January, we looked at The Magicians and Penn & Teller: Fool Us. And we saw Michel Roux's Service, which we noted as The 1% initiating members of everyone else into their secret circle. It's a meme subsequently occupied elsewhere.

Moment of the Year 1: Contestant Steve accepts a lowball bid from Chaser Mark Labbett. He fails to bring home Minus £2000.


February followed. The Late Late Show Eurosong Special Inevitably Won by Jedward was won by celebrity haircuts Jedward, somewhat inevitably. Jeremy Paxman found himself unable to say the word "cut" without insnerting a spurious letter "n", and Ian Bayley won his heat of Mastermind.

BBC2 aired A Farmer's Life for Me, which embodied everything that was right about modern reality shows. "Unto the English is given a show that will acknowledge and address their stereotypes. What it's not going to do is didactically tell the viewer whether their pre-conceived opinion is right or wrong. It's far more subtle than that" But it also embodied everything that's wrong about the editing of modern reality shows. "Because there were so many little points of tension throughout the show, we have difficulty recognising the big points when we reach them. Sometimes, they're only obvious in retrospect, and this isn't really a show we would care to watch twice."

We also saw Perfection and its array of catchphrases (The Usual Suspects, "how did you fare at home?"). Tool Academy validated heteronormality and "lie detectors" (its place in serious detective work is the equivalent of treating serious illnesses by the application of leeches.)

Moment of the Year 2: Nick Knowles and his Marvellous Mechanical Toast Rack of Riches. There were many things right about Secret Fortune – not least the way the questions were phrased as higher and lower – but we always enjoyed seeing all 24 prize envelopes pop up.


The received wisdom amongst producers in 2011 was that a dodgy show could be improved by going live. In March, Push the Button tried to cover its general rubbishness by going live. Hoping to tap into a programme that's still popular after fifteen years, one of the returning contestants was Lisa Simpson. The perils of live television were illustrated by a "news" channel, reporting on some quotidian event only to be upstaged by celebrity haircuts Jedward running through the back of the frame.

University Challenge droned on towards its conclusion through an interminable group phase. We compared it to another contest with an interminable group phase. "It does not take a month of games to determine that Zimbabwe, Canada, and Kenya are weaker than other cricket sides. It does not take ten matches to determine that Sheffield, Magdalen Oxford, and Peterhouse Cambridge are worthy of places in the semi-final. The only point of interest is which side will make up the quartet – will it be England, the West Indies, Bangladesh, or York?" In the event, York surprised everyone by making it to the final, where they lost to India.

James Brown, runner-up in Celebrity Racist of the Year, found time to host Great British Hairdresser, all about the fabulous world of the session stylist. That's "fabulous" as in made up, confected, fictional. In Waif magazine's "What's Hot and What's Rot" feature, this show was Rot.

Trade Your Way to the USA indoctrinated young people in capitalism and proved even more blood-sucking than the Young Dracula finale. (Seriously! Never saw that coming!). 24 Hour Panel People raised money and David Walliams' profile. Glee Club saw Sam and Mark let loose in a singing competition, because seven-and-a-half years after killing Pop Idle might be enough punishment. And Ian Bayley won his Mastermind semi-final.

Moment of the Year 3: "It would help if I knew who Peter Gabriel was" – Brian Sewell on Only Connect - video


April followed next, and we rather enjoyed putting together a spoof review of Channel 4's Love Thy Neighbour. Though laced with humour, the criticism stood. "It's clear that the producers have gone into this project knowing the programme they want to make... The producers want to be seen as bringers of liberal values to a reactionary backwater. The only problem is that the townsfolk resolutely fail to play ball."

We scrutinised an OFCOM report into Big Brother, where they'd refused to look at unaired footage in a privacy case brought by Nadia Almada. Is this the same OFCOM that looked at unaired footage when hauling Big Brother over the coals for the Goody / Shetty racism some years earlier? It is, and the blatant double standards are sapping our confidence in the regulator's ability to implement the limited rules it does have.

We didn't report the curious case of Ingrid Thomas, a contestant from Big Brother 6. She was silenced by the English legal system and a well-known sports personality who cannot be named for legal reasons. The footballer made spurious allegations of blackmail against Miss Thomas, and took eight months to withdraw them.

Also – Channel 5 announced the return of Big Brother, to which series 3 winner Kate Lawler said, "Porridge, hot water, a bit of mixed dried fruit & a splash of golden syrup makes a lovely healthy breakfast. Yum." Anne Robinson announced her retirement from The Weakest Link; the show ends this new year.

Moment of the Year 4: "This is recognition for my favourite hobby", says the new Mastermind.


A proposal to skip hay fever season and leap straight into July was rejected, so May came next. It would have allowed us to miss There's Something About Josie, a fly-on-the-wall show following 2010 Big Brother winner Josie Gibson. Channel 5's Jeff Ford said afterwards that the programme "did not have enough for people to grab onto". Well, it had Josie, and it had her appendage John James Parton, but evidently the most important part of summer 2010 was missing. Bring on the duvet!

The Eurovision Song Contest wasn't won by celebrity haircuts Jedward, but they did beat the BBC's entry Blue. Anthony Costa would end the year in a disappointing place on Celebrity Mastermind. The critics on Britain's Got Talent did not deny claims that their programme exploited its contestants, and the producers allowed viewers to believe that a contestant was miming to a CD. Sing If You Can brought celebrity haircuts Jedward back to ITV, and Channel 5 cancelled Impossible? after two episodes.

Celebrity Juice recorded viewing figures of over 2 million, something Angela Jain of ITV's digital channels found "bonkers". Don't be surprised, be happy. Though this column – indeed, this website – has ignored it, Celebrity Juice is the biggest digital-only entertainment programme bar none. Over the past few years, the panel of Leigh, Fearne, Holly, and Rufus have very quietly created a little world of their own, one that laughs at the famous as much as it laughs with them. The little programme that could has built up a momentum of its own, enough that classic episodes were stripped across a week in September as a successful Big Brother spoiler. We remember Celebrity Juice as one of the Zeitgeist Shows of the Year.

Why are there no hares on Only Connect?

The BBC celebrated its move to Salford by commissioning a landmark programme, something that would herald a new dawn of brilliant shows and spark creativity in the new outpost. Don't Scare the Hare certainly had people talking, it was jaw-dropping in the extreme. And it proved one maxim of modern broadcasting: presenters on Channel 5's The Gadget Show shouldn't accept any other gigs. Jason Bradbury From Channel 5's The Gadget Show turned up on Don't Scare The Hare, and so did an animatronic hare.

It's permanently perched on its hind legs, and is capable of running the whole gamut of emotions, from surprised to shocked, from slightly fearful to mildly alert, from running around like a small white dalek to trundling around like an oversized and less intelligent K9. If the hare gets scared, it runs away. Except, as it doesn't have independently-articulated legs, it doesn't so much run as gently trundle away. There were other problems – the games were dull, and even celebrity look-alike Sue Perkins couldn't rescue it with lashings of snark. But if only the hare could have run...

Viewing figures fell faster than a fast-falling thing, dropping from about 1.5 Celebrity Juices for the opening episode, to a nadir of 0.3 Celebrity Juices for an episode screened opposite the FA Cup final. It's acceptable for Only Connect to get Only Connect-sized viewing figures, it's a low-budget show on BBC4. It's not OK for Don't Scare the Hare to get sub-Only Connect viewing figures on BBC1. Controller Danny Cohen wins our Understatement of the Year award: "It didn't quite catch on. People didn't engage with the robot in the way we hoped."

Moment of the Year 5: Eurovision always provides us with plenty of images. We're going for the moment when one of the dancers peers around a cardboard skyscraper during Estonia's entry. video

This year's Tony Slattery Memorial Award for Utter Media Ubiquity goes to Dave Lamb. On one day in May, he appeared on Dave, Dave Ja Vu, Discovery Real Time, Discovery Real Time+1, DMAX, DMAX+1, DMAX+2, Channel 4, Channel 4+1, More4, More4+1, and the CBBC channel, broadcasting for about 60 hours and sometimes appearing in six places at once.


On to June, when Edward McCullagh won Countdown, celebrity haircuts Jedward performed for Mr. Obama of Chicago, and Mr. Obama made his excuses and left the country before nightfall. He'd doubtless encountered the Irish Daily Mail's ability to turn a non-story into a constitutional crisis, at least until someone had coughed up a few thousand euro.

Superior dance competition So You Think You Can Dance came to a bedraggled end, tossed around the schedules like a basketball. Horrible Histories added a spin-off Gory Games, and Dick and Dom provided a voiceover for Splatalot, a show that was always going to be Total Wipeout for youngsters. Style the Nation was an advertiser-funded product placement show that conducted all of its voting over the internet, and advertised its IRC channel.

The second Zeitgeist Show of the Year is Four Rooms, Channel 4's antiques selling game dominated by the larger-than-life personalities of Jeff Salmon and Emma Hawkins. The show worked on so many levels – the human drama of selling collectables, the decision to stick or twist. Will this one be a winner? Who will make the better deal? And what's the story behind this piece of contemporary art? After a troubled start, Four Rooms gathered critical approval, and word-of-mouth publicity succeeded where glossy trailers had failed.

UKTV Dave had Alexander Armstrong vehicle Big Ask, and Al Murray vehicle Compete for the Meat. The latter had Zoe Salmon holding up the night's star prize for all to admire. Do you see what they did there? A neatly-plucked bird being held aloft by a former Miss Northern Ireland. If Dave did feminist irony, this would be it.

You've just lost...

Moment of the Year 6: Back to Foor Rooms, and the moment when Nick and Bradley turned down Jeff Salmon's offer of £240,000 for their original Banksy wall.


In July, we thought about reviewing ITV's new flop series The Marriage Ref. Then we thought better of it, fell asleep, and woke up to a room full of The Chuckle Brothers. Popstar to Operastar crowned its second winner, Joe McElderry produced two hit albums to add to the one flop album from his The X Factor career. Quiz Trippers put five pub quizzers in a campervan and threw them all around Scotland.

This column went to Manchester, and came away with a mug advertising Johnny Vegas's show, and confirmation that 1994 was the best year for pop music. Mark Watson went to UKTV Dave, made Improvisation M, and wasn't renewed. 5* made Silent Library, an entertainment for people who find gross-out humour entertaining.

BBC1 changed its schedule, swapping The Weakest Link and QI for Pointless. Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman had been asking people to find unique answers to questions for a couple of years, and had very slowly and very steadily gathered an appreciative audience, albeit one cowering in the shadows because there's still a social stigma attached to the second button. It's the kangaroos. As soon as they moved to the majority channel, people could say they watched the show without admitting to watching BBC2. It's been another lift for Alexander Armstrong, and Richard Osman has been named Geek of the Year in Hate magazine. The original schedule called for Pointless to be replaced by Perfection in the autumn, but this didn't happen. Pointless is our third Zeitgeist Show of the Year.

Moment of the Year 7: A room full of The Chuckle Brothers. We're still scarred.


To August, where summer filler Born to Shine gave celebrities and talented children ten minutes in the spotlight. ITV's new flop series was Show Me the Funny, seeking a great new comedy talent capable of pulling in lots of viewers. Well, they were half-right. Pete Burns joined the panel of Dragons' Den, and was plastered over the front of one of the BBC's buildings in Salford.

Formula One fans were annoyed that half the races won't be shown on television next year, and suggested Channel 4 should have been given the rights. Ortis Deley From Channel 5's The Gadget Show took a trip to Japan, and was put in charge of Channel 4's coverage of the world athletics championships. This proved to be another error; should have stuck to presenting The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Blue Peter.

Jim'll Fix It was revived, but only for viewers in Ireland, and renamed. "OMG! Jedward's Dream Factory" went out over the Christmas break. Celebrity haircuts Jedward also joined the cast of Celebrity Big Brother, delayed a night for Channel 4 to air a film about little snacks with ideas of taking over the world. OFCOM ruled on a complaint about David Walliams calling a Mastermind contestant "astoundingly thick". Mr. Walliams is a fine one to talk, having never appeared on any version of Mastermind.

Highlight of the summer was Pop Up Pop Quiz, which had a deft touch and sure writing, and managed to be entertaining and amusing in a way that Never Mind the Buzzcocks hasn't managed all century. What's their answer to Rappin' Rabbit or the Glockenhat? Camp Orange ran it close, though we're still wondering what the aim was.

Hat of the Year.

Hat of the Year goes to a University Challenge contestant. Dorian Lidell of Bath beat Michael Healy-Rae's flat cap, and James Brown of Great British Hairdresser on the grounds of not using the n-word in polite conversation.


September brought us Epic Win, a show that was mostly an excuse to shout out lots of catchphrases. "Epic win!" "the Epic Centre" "turn their powers into pounds" "Zero pounds." "Micky Flanagan, you tightwad." Celebrity haircuts Jedward surprised everyone by finishing third in Celebrity Big Brother, beaten not only by Kerry Cat-owner of Liverpool, but also by Paddy Doherty who we'd never heard of before. Minute to Win It came to ITV2, a programme of games complete in sixty seconds. Dana Domestic withdrew from Celebrity Bainisteoir so that she could stand for election as president of Ireland. She finished sixth, being beaten by Paul Gogarty on the field and one of the blokes from Dragons' Den on the ballot.

Zeitgeist Show of the Year number 4, The Great British Bake Off. Mel and Sue's travelling circus of cookery had brightened up the early autumn of 2010, and after a one-off Wedding Cake special in April, they were back this autumn for a second serving. This year, the competition was harder, the standard higher, the cake was softer, the icing creamier, and the mobile marquee ... well, it stayed put. But there were squirrels. Still, five million people tuned in, the quality and quantity of cupcakes brought into the Week's offices has improved tremendously, and a junior version graced CBBC late in the year.

ITV's latest flop show was Red or Black. Actually, that's unfair: it's only a "flop" in the sense of "not being able to live up to the absurdly high expectations put on it". We sensed trouble in June when a sponsorship deal was announced. According to the press release, "With its fast-paced, edge of your seat format, we know that viewers are going to be glued to their screens and while they're deciding Red or Black at home. The home is our point of sale so unmissable TV events such as Red or Black create an ideal time for a product." By which we think they mean, "We're sponsoring Red or Black, and we sell something. And we'll say anything to get our product's name in the papers, no matter how many grammatical errors it may contain or how little sense it makes."

The problem with the programme: who cares? There were some interesting television stunts, like seeing a man jump off a crane 200 feet above a rollercoaster, but these were shamelessly padded out to be overlong. There were some very dull television stunts, like 256 people opening up a fortune cookie. There were so many people about it was difficult to know any of them.

And then fate landed on double-zero. On the first show in the series, someone won the million pounds. It emerged that he had spent a couple of years in prison, and had spent those couple of years in prison for beating up his ex-girlfriend. The tabloids got on the moral high ground, and fulminated in the remarkably self-important way that only the British tabloid press can do. "We want our winners to be the deserving poor", was the tenor of their coverage. "We want to fiddle with fate, ensure that it only rewards the people we think are spotless, who actually deserve the largesse of luck." Simon Cowell could have looked the press in the eye and told them to hop it. But he blinked, introduced a new rule to exclude anyone with a criminal record, and lost our respect.

Changes are promised for a second series, perhaps including consolation prizes. Right now, it's win or bust, death or glory, all or nothing. But almost everything here was wrong: the stunts were dull, the direction pedestrian, and the outcome predictable.

Red or Black did provide us with Moment of the Year 9, the shot of Dec and Ant. That's how wrong the show was!


As the calendar turned to October, and we dusted off the suncream because summer had arrived, Holding Out for a Hero was fluffy, feelgood entertainment for Sunday nights. Not only does it work as a quiz, but it's also promoting charities without being as patronising as television usually is. Bloggers noted that Mock the Week almost never invites a woman onto its panel, and certainly never two, and wondered if this had a causal link to the opinion that Mock the Week is dull. Celebrity haircuts Jedward said they wanted to enter next year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Channel 5 rescheduled The Beat Goes On from late evenings to Sunday mornings. More people watch the Random Dancing segment on iCarly. Channel 5 also aired three more episodes of Impossible?, which we reckon is the best little show you didn't watch. Then they pulled it. Again.

ITV's latest flop show was High Stakes. Even before the first episode aired, we had this down as a flop, seeing as how UTV in Ulster was pushing it out after 11pm, and STV in Scotland wasn't showing it at all. But then STV relented, and realised that lifestyle show The Hour was even worse. It must have been spectacularly bad, because High Stakes was rubbish. Not only was the music predictable, the host oily, the top prize almost unwinnable, but the rules were confusing. The contestant's job is to stand on a number they believe is not the wrong answer, and hope that they're right. As in, they're right that it's wrong, because if they're wrong that it's wrong so it's right, then they're wrong, and one wrong answer means they're right out. Right?

Like the floor on High Stakes, Deal or No Deal has been very slowly sinking over the past few years. Clearly, the thing they need to do is play the game live on network television. Clearly, too many things are left on the cutting-room floor: bad jokes, low-level homophobia, gynophobia, worse shirts, and financial recklessness of the sort unseen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Moment of the Year 10 was the amazing rising and falling floor on High Stakes. The best bit of the show is the hydraulic platform. video


We started November with more game theatre in London, this time trying to outwit some brain-dead creatures immune to logical reason, and some zombies. Back home, we caught up with an episode of The Chase played with celebrities. Here's another show to have evolved from its original concept, allowing Mark Labbett and Shaun Wallace to show their personalities, and bringing in other top quizzers Anne Hegerty and Paul Sinha. Everyone's loosened up just a little, not enough to break the format, but enough to let us see the occasional cracks. The great thing about The Chase is that there's a clear variation in tempo, fast passages, tense passages, and the staccato rhythm of the final round. It's our fifth and final Zeitgeist Show of the Year.

Also in November, Frankie Cocozza was fired from The X Factor for "breaking a golden rule". We're still not clear what his exact offence was, but we reckon it's "thou shalt not incur the wrath of OFCOM". We reviewed The X Factor, and chanced to see Pick 'n' Mix's title-winning performance. We reviewed Strictly Come Dancing, which just dragged on. Ian Bayley won the Brain of Brains title. Channel 5 aired one more episode of Impossible?

Moment of the Year 11: Aaron Allard-Morgan emerges from the Big Brother studio as the winner of the competition. The crowd give him the Two Minutes' Hate. Watch the final again


And what's been happening in December? We found there's too much nastiness on the interwebs, and declined to add more of our own. Come Date With Me combined dining and romance, in a way only somewhat derivative of ITV's Dinner Date. Danny Baker returned to the wireless with History Repeats Itself, celebrity lookalike Sue Perkins hosted Dilemma, and Angus Deayton got the Christmas Day After The Archers gig with the inventive diversion It's Your Round.

Only Connect was won by the Analysts, and the show had a Wall Night special, and Graeme Cole won Countdown. Channel 4's new flop show was Home for the Holidays, in which relatives did things in the hope of winning some money; viewing figures were only about twice as large as the eventual prize money. Channel 5 aired one more edition of Impossible?, figured out that its rights to the show expired at the end of the year, and bunged out the last edition with hours to spare, on New Years' Eve morning. And celebrity haircuts Jedward cut their hair. But don't panic, it's only so that the look slightly less like Justin Bieber when it gets wet.

Moment of the Year 12: UCL's charismatic captain Jamie Karran suggests that owls belong to the bunting family of birds, and gives Jeremy a cheeky grin and thumbs-up.

Ratings Watch

The traditional question raised itself again this year: does BBC1 or ITV have the greater claim to be Britain's Favourite Button? In general, ITV relies on a small number of returning bankers – Coronation Street and Emmerdale, The X Factor, and to a slightly lesser degree Britain's Got Talent and Dancing on Ice. After that, there's a fast drop-off, and shows only need attract 3.5m viewers to make the top thirty. BBC1 doesn't have the peaks – The Eastenders is inferior to ITV's soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and The Apprentice are only on for half the year – but it does have strength in depth, with four million people regularly seeing the news or The One Show.

The lists we present are compiled from weekly top thirties. We reckon a show can fluke its way onto the ITV list, but not onto the BBC1 list. Conversely, prime-time programmes missing completely from the ITV list have really flopped.

This list covers shows broadcast up to 31 December. For readers who don't care about this and want the list of winners of everything, we can oblige.


1Strictly Come Dancing17/1213.34
2The Apprentice (final)17/0710.24
3Eurovision Song Contest14/059.68
4Let's Dance for Comic Relief (first)19/027.98
5Masterchef (final)27/046.6
6In It to Win It6/026.54
7Secret Fortune19/026.19
8Have I Got News for You23/126.11
9The Magicians1/015.83
10Celebrity Mastermind29/125.80
11Total Wipeout6/025.58
12Winter Wipeout (first)17/125.51
13The Apprentice The Final Five7/075.29
14So You Think You Can Dance26/035.06
15Who Dares Wins (last)18/064.98
16Young Apprentice (final)12/124.91
17Tonight's the Night16/074.7
18Would I Lie to You? (first)9/094.22
19QI (highlights)22/044.02


1The X Factor (final)11/1212.09
2Britain's Got Talent (final)4/0611.35
3I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here! (first)13/1111.16
4Dancing on Ice (first)9/019.37
5The X Factor Standby Filler12/119.04
6Red or Black? (first)3/097.08
7I'm a Celebrity - Coming Out5/126.35
8Family Fortunes25/126.13
9Popstar to Operastar (preview)4/065.98
10Ant and Dec's Push the Button Series 2 (first)12/025.85
11Take Me Out19/035.5
12The Big Quiz (2)16/125.3
13The Cube24/124.96
14Who Wants to be a Millionaire2/044.89
15Sing If You Can (first)16/044.85
16The Biggest Loser (final)28/024.81
17Penn and Teller: Fool Us7/014.28
18The Chase (celebrity)5/114.15
19Paddy's 2011 Show and Telly29/123.6
20Odd One In25/063.55
21Born to Shine (first)17/072.82
22Dickinson's Real Deal (primetime)19/082.63
23Show Me the Funny (final)25/082.51

There's the surprise, folks, Strictly Come Dancing is the Most Watched game show of the year. ITV fans like to aggregate figures for ITV, ITV+1, and ITV-HD, but we don't believe that's fair: people could be recorded on more than one service, and no figures are available for BBC1-HD. Red or Black? lost half its audience by the final episode. Take Me Out increased its numbers as the series went on, most unusual for an entertainment show airing in the spring. Anyone seen High Stakes? No? You win!


1The Great British Bake-Off (final)4/105.06
2Dragons' Den (first)31/074.39
3The Apprentice You're Fired (last)13/073.92
4Masterchef The Professionals15/123.82
5University Challenge (not Wales)7/113.46
6QI (first)9/093.45
7Mock the Week23/063.2
8Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two21/112.98
9Antiques Road Trip04/02, 11/022.78
10Great British Menu30/052.76
11Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is14/032.59
12Celebrity Antiques Road Trip2/112.57
13Mastermind21/01, 28/012.55
15Christmas University Challenge22/122.48
16Have I Got a Bit More News for You4/062.36
17Making of QI10/092.36
18The Great British Bake-Off Cookbook6/102.32
19QI XL22/012.2
20A Farmer's Life for Me (first)1/022.19
21Michel Roux's Service19/012.1
23Never Mind the Buzzcocks (first)14/112.08
24Antiques Master12/091.9
25Have I Got Old News For You26/091.76
26Celebrity Eggheads1/081.75
27Shooting Stars12/091.74
29The Great British Wedding Cake20/041.6
30A Question of Sport (unbilled transfer)24/061.52

QI returned to BBC2 this year after underperforming on BBC1, and has retained about half of its viewers.

Channel 4

1Big Fat Quiz of the Year27/123.89
2Come Dine With Me21/022.81
3The Million Pound Drop Live4/022.79
4Deal or No Deal3/012.35
5Famous and Fearless (first)2/012.27
6Coach Trip18/032.04
78 Out of 10 Cats23/121.99
8Four In a Bed25/111.95
9Come Dine With Me Royal Wedding Special29/041.79
10Come Dine With Me Down Under7/051.72
11Three In a Bed19/051.7
12Chris Moyles Quiz Night (first)15/071.69
13Come Date With Me (first)5/121.67
14Celebrity Coach Trip11/101.63
15Four Rooms5/071.6
16Celebrity Five Go To23/051.24

It will be annoying that the biggest two game shows of 2011 were the Big Fat Quiz of 2011 and Big Fat Quiz of 2010. Four Rooms was another show to improve as it went on, remarkable for the summer.

Channel 5

1Celebrity Big Brother (final)8/093.23
2Big Brother (first)9/092.77
3The Bachelor (final)28/101.6
4World's Strongest Man27/121.51
5Celeb BB: Winner's Story9/091.31
6Celeb BB's Bit on the Side8/091.04
7BB's Bit on the Side (first)9/091.01
8There's Something About Josie (first)9/050.86

Missing from this list is Big Brother The Winner's Story, which recorded one of Channel 5's worst performances at 9pm. Scheduling it opposite I'm a Celebrity probably didn't help at all.


1Celebrity Juice27/102.673
2Britain's Got More Talent (final)5/061.993
3I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here Now! (last)3/121.879
4Xtra Factor (first)10/091.583
5The X Factor Us (first)23/091.464
6Britain's Got Talent Us (first)14/060.882
7Britain's Got Talent (narr rep)15/050.86
8I'm a Celebrity - Best Trials Ever6/120.829
9Hell's Kitchen Us (last)8/110.719
10The X Factor (first; narr rep)21/080.708
11Pop Idle Us (final)27/050.701
12Take Me Out (narr rep)20/020.569

Celebrity Juice is the biggest digital show in the UK, with the occasional exception of live sport.

Sky 1

1Got to Dance (final)27/021.37
2A League of Their Own (first)4/111.108

Only two game shows make the satellite broadcaster's weekly top ten, but they rank as new UK digital game shows 2 and 3 for 2011.


1Only Connect28/110.841

Another huge set of figures for Only Connect, it's number 4 in UK-commissioned game shows on digital channels. There were no game shows in BBC3's weekly top tens.


1Tool Academy24/010.782
2Great British Hairdresser4/040.414

Tool Academy managed to shed almost half its inheritance from Glee, and rode its luck to rank as well as it did.


1Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model29/080.537
2America's Next Top Model17/010.449
3Jade Changed My Life22/030.387
4Four Weddings4/040.3
5Dating In the Dark24/050.275
6Signed by Katie Price11/100.247
7Four Weddings Us9/020.246

Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model the sixth and final UK commission to break half a million viewers. There was a time when we reckoned Four Weddings had the world at its feet, but evidently not.

In alphabetical order, here's the rest of the channels.


18 Out of 10 Cats21/120.157
2Pop Up Pop Quiz (first)9/070.098
3Shipwrecked The Island13/110.07


1BB's Bit on the Side (last)11/110.444
2Celeb BB's Bit on the Side31/080.378


1Art of Survival30/070.022
2Art Race16/070.02

Cartoon Network

1Ben 10: Ultimate Challenge20/110.1


1Total Wipeout4/030.431
3Junior Bake Off (final)17/110.386
4The Slammer18/110.384
5Horrible Histories: Gory Games2/060.38
6School of Silence11/020.372
7Trade Your Way to the USA16/020.358
8Hole in the Wall27/080.353




1Who Wants to be a Millionaire12/080.251
3In It to Win It23/080.22
4Takeshi's Castle13/030.214
6Take Your Pick14/080.196
7Don't Forget the Lyrics31/120.188
8Play Your Cards Right21/100.187
9Family Fortunes27/100.183
10Crystal Maze5/040.181
11Joe Pasquale's Price is Right24/070.171
12Ninja Warrior3/060.165
13Shooting Stars13/060.16
14Blankety Blank11/110.157
16Supermarket Sweep17/090.148
20UK's Strongest Man 2011 (first)21/110.134
21Wheel of Fortune9/100.132
22Ultimate Strongman Masters19/120.114
24Big Break10/120.109
25Take It or Leave It5/020.103

Appearing only on Challenge+1:

The Krypton Factor17/120.029
Deal or No Deal12/110.025
Fort Boyard14/100.023
The World's Strongest Man 201018/090.023


1Mock the Week20/090.506
2QI XL20/090.501
3Have I Got News for You7/020.437
5Have I Got a Bit More News for You24/010.368
7Driving Wars22/110.271
8The Bubble18/010.27
9Would I Lie to You?19/010.259
10Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask (pilot)30/050.251
11Compete for the Meat26/050.242


1One Man Army9/120.058

Discovery Real Time

1Come Dine With Me13/030.08


1Top Chef12/070.019


1Come Dine With Me16/040.076
2Beauty and the Geek Australia5/110.041

ESPN America

1Around the Horn19/8, 23/90.005

ESPN Classic

1World's Strongest Man21/080.016
2The Superstars21/080.015


1Strongest Man Champions League19/080.026

Extreme Sports


Food Network

1Cupcake Wars22/090.079


1QI XL24/050.148

UKTV Good Food

1Masterchef The Professionals14/020.06


1The Block18/08, 1/90.045


Marriage Ref (first)18/060.214

This show did not make an ITV top 30.

Living It

1The Biggest Loser Usa3/050.213
2Four Weddings Oz29/070.151
3Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life23/010.095
4The Biggest Loser Australia12/060.091
5Four Weddings28/100.077
6America's Next Top Model14/090.057
7Dating In the Dark9/070.049
8Australia's Next Top Model27/060.045


1Come Dine With Me7/081.089
2Three / Four In a Bed9/100.437


1Camp Orange12/080.068


1Lab Rats Challenge29/010.035


Cash Cab22/050.014


1Tool Academy (US)10/020.032


1Fferm Ffactor (final)30/110.099
3Cor Cymru27/030.061

Sky Atlantic

1The Devil's Dinner Party30/110.105


1Masterchef Australia11/120.318
2Junior Masterchef Australia1/030.287
3Masterchef New Zealand14/020.179
4Ballroom with the B-List28/110.155
5Scream If You Know the Answer (last)5/060.132
6Total Wipeout USA13/030.129
7Total Wipeout UK11/030.115
8Boom Bang a Bang15/050.103

The Roll Of Honour

Zeitgeist Shows of the Year

  • Celebrity Juice
  • The Chase
  • Four Rooms
  • The Great British Bake Off
  • Pointless

Competition winners

Antiques Road Trip – James Lewis

Brain of Britain – Iwan Thomas
Top Brain – Ian Bayley

House of the Year – David and Frieda Scott, Newcastle

Tool Academy (spring) – Danny Smith
(autumn) – Leon Chin

Cân i Gymru – "Rhywun yn Rhywle", performed by Tesni Jones

Let's Dance for Comic Relief – James Thornton and Charlie Baker

Glee Club – Soul Mates

The All-Ireland Talent Show – Daniel Furlong

Feirm Factor (TG4) – Gavin Satchwell
Fferm Ffactor (S4C) – Malcolm Davies

Coach Trip (spring) – Rob & Timmy
(autumn) – Nathan & Katie
(celeb) – Gary Cockerill and Phil Turner

Trade Your Way to the USA – Aspire – Adil, Michael, Francesco

Dancing on Ice – Sam Attwater

Just a Minute (spring) – Julian Clary
(summer) – Stephen Fry, Sue Perkins (joint)
(autumn) – Julian Clary
(overall) – Stephen Fry

Accumulate! – Junction 11 Execs – Alys Dobson, Chris Riley, Chris Diffin

Head Chef – Harry Marquart
(celebrity) – Adele King
(junior) – postponed to 2012

University Challenge – Magdalen Oxford – Matthew Chan James McComish, Kyle Haddad-Fonda, Will Cudmore
Christmas University Challenge – Trinity Cambridge – Robin Bhattachryya, Daisy Goodwin, John Lloyd of Only Connect, Edward Stourton

Côr Cymru – Cywair

Cookery School – Ryan Philpot

Mastermind – Ian Bayley

Love thy Neighbour – Andy and Vicky

Masterchef – Tim Anderson
Masterchef Ireland – Mary Carney
Celebrity Masterchef – Phil Vickery
Masterchef The Professionals – Ash Mair

Great British Hairdresser – Kerys Weir

Eurovision Song Contest – ITV for "Running scared" (music and lyric: Stefan Örn, Sandra Bjurman, Iain Farquharson, performed by Ell/Nikki)
Eurovision Young Dancers – NRK, represented by Daniel Modou Sarr
Junior Eurovision – GBP for "Candy Music" (music: George Kukhianidze; lyric: Irina Khechanova, Mariam Gvaladze, Ana Khanchalyan, Gvantsa Saneblidze, Irina Kovalenko, performed by Candy)

Countdown (June) – Edward McCullagh
(December) – Graeme Cole

So You Think You Can Dance – Matt Flint

Celebrity Salon – Alan Hughes

Radio 2 New Comedy Award – Angela Barnes

Cardiff Singer of the World – Valentina Nafornita (soprano, Moldova) (also Audience Prize)
Song Prize – Andrei Bondarenko (baritone, Ukraine)

Counterpoint – Anthony Dean

Style the Nation – Sara Wilson

Popstar to Operastar – Joe McElderry

Rostrum Camera – Ken Morse

Quiz Trippers – Alan Hazlie

The Apprentice (UK) – Tom Pellereau
Junior Apprentice – Zara Brownless
The Apprentice (Ireland) – Eugene Heary

Camp Orange – Awesome 2some (Aled & Caleb)

Born to Shine – Jason Manford

Show Me the Funny – Pat Monahan

Alesha's Streetdance Stars – Lil Diamonds

Celebrity Big Brother – Paddy Doherty
Big Brother – Aaron Allard-Morgan

Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model – Jade Thompson

Antiques Master – Sandy Rich

The Great British Bake-Off – Jo Wheatley
Junior Bake-Off – Freya

Young Choristers of the Year – Ella Rainbird-Earley and Laurence Stannard

Round Britain Quiz – Midlands (Rosalind Miles and Stephen Maddock)

Celebrity Bainisteoir – Tony Cascarino

Signed by Katie Price – Amy Willerton

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – Dougie Poynter

Only Connect – Analysts (Paul Steeples, David Lea, William De Ath)

Simon Cowell Annoys – Little Mix and Simon Cowell

Ben 10 Ultimate Challenge – Kian

Strictly Come Dancing – Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani

Coming Up

A busy round of game show action this week, and it's already begun – Fort Boyard Ultimate Challenge raced on screens at 7.45 this morning. It's repeated on CITV at 5pm on Monday; next episode's on ITV at 9am next Saturday. If you're quick, Questions Pour un Super Champion is on TV5 at 5.10 today; if you're not, Only Connect's Championship of Champions of Champions is on BBC4 at 8.30 tomorrow. That's after the resumption of University Challenge (BBC2, 8pm) and opposite Channel 4's Job Swap scheme, which includes Davina McCall playing The Million Pound Drop Live Not Live and 8 Out of 10 Cats play Countdown.

Celebrity Mastermind continues all week (Scotland 5.30 today, elsewhere 5.35 tomorrow, then 7pm Tu-Fr nationwide and 5.35 next Sunday), and there's a double-bill of civilian Mastermind on Friday. A Question of Taste (BBC2, 7.30 Monday) promises to put the stumper into cookery, and The Bank Job (C4, 10pm weeknights, 8.30 Saturday) gives George Lamb an excuse to appear on television again. There are new runs of Perfection (BBC2, 4.30 weekdays) and The Chase (ITV, 5pm weekdays), and a Who Wants to be a Millionaire New Year special (ITV, 8pm Tuesday). Celebrity Big Brother returns to Channel 5 (Thursday), The Magicians comes back live (BBC1, 6.35 Saturday), Take Me Out graces ITV (7.30 Saturday), Who Dares Wins is back (BBC1, 7.50 Saturday), and Zeitgeist Show of the Year Celebrity Juice gets repeated on ITV (10.45 Saturday).

And that's just the first week!

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