Channel Four In Numbers II: Ratingsgeddon

  • 10/21/2009 02:09:00 am
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones
  • 1 Comments

Yes, we know we said ‘more tomorrow’, but we’ve been busy laughing in the face of EU Working Hours legislation. Bwa-ha-ha-hangonwe’rebeingexploited.

Anyway, numbers. Our mammoth listing of eleven years of weekly Channel Four viewing charts takes in 11,736 individual broadcasts, which is possibly about the same as the average lifespan of a shirehorse. A few days ago, we looked at the highest rated programmes, but what of those hearty mainstays? The shows that flutter around the top thirties week in, week out, maybe not quite getting mammoth audiences, but always somehow in your peripheral vision, like a moth waving a flag? What of them, eh? The list contains a grand total of 1,964 different shows, and here are the hundred appearing most frequently in each weekly BARB rundown. Just under a shot of Michael Grade looking a bit dishevelled in 1990.

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“The annual report shoot is today? Frigging heck, I thought it had been postponed until Wednesday.”

Rank Programme Appearances on list Av. Weekly Pos.
1 Hollyoaks 1824 18.74
2 The Simpsons 1257 17.74
3 Countdown 1213 13.24
4 Deal Or No Deal 1040 11.53
5 Big Brother 836 5.74
6 Brookside 575 5.05
7 Richard And Judy 527 23.52
8 Friends 485 14.34
9 Fifteen-To-One 445 23.44
10 Pet Rescue 442 22.36
11 Paul O'Grady 439 15.85
12 A Place In The Sun 249 18.25
13 V Graham Norton 241 15.92
14 Come Dine With Me 240 16.90
15 Frasier 187 15.68
16 Ricki Lake 183 22.07
17 E.R. 163 14.06
18 Time Team 162 15.05
19 Celebrity Big Brother 120 6.87
20 Will And Grace 115 14.43
21 Desperate Housewives 111 11.67
22 Property Ladder 110 7.67
23 Grand Designs 101 4.26
24 Location, Location, Location 95 7.71
25 Sex And The City 90 13.62
26 Scrapheap Challenge 89 14.37
27 Wife Swap 82 11.91
28 Ally McBeal 79 16.41
29 Relocation, Relocation 76 3.62
30 Eurotrash 73 16.68
31 So Graham Norton 69 13.01
32 10 Years Younger 67 12.19
33 Father Ted 66 18.65
34 Cricket Afternoon 66 19.45
35 Big Brother's Little Brother 66 23.42
36 Shameless 65 9.98
37 T.F.I Friday 63 20.13
38 Without A Trace 56 18.79
39 South Park 55 17.62
40 Cutting Edge 54 15.63
41 Lost 52 8.10
42 No Going Back 49 8.33
43 Ugly Betty 49 14.65
44 How Clean Is Your House? 48 11.71
45 Stargate Sg-1 46 20.17
46 8 Out Of 10 Cats 44 10.89
47 You Are What You Eat 42 8.86
48 Selling Houses 42 9.26
49 Montel Williams Show 41 24.56
50 Supernanny 38 5.55
51 Gordon Ramsay's F Word 38 7.08
52 Dispatches 37 19.27
53 Teachers 36 13.56
54 The Salon 34 24.03
55 How Clean Is Your House 33 7.76
56 Secret History 31 17.74
57 Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares 29 3.72
58 The Secret Millionaire 29 4.90
59 Location/Location 29 13.17
60 It's Me Or The Dog 29 13.69
61 The City Gardener 29 14.34
62 Jamie At Home 29 16.07
63 Home From Home 29 25.38
64 How To Look Good Naked 28 8.79
65 Top Tens 28 20.43
66 My Name Is Earl 27 23.26
67 Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA 26 4.85
68 The Osbournes 26 12.42
69 Scrubs 26 19.92
70 Channel 4 News 26 22.50
71 Trigger Happy Tv 24 10.58
72 Smack The Pony 23 17.26
73 Driven 23 24.30
74 The Games 22 13.00
75 Secrets Of The Dead 22 13.91
76 Faking It 22 16.82
77 No Angels 22 20.59
78 Enterprise 22 22.00
79 Nypd Blue 22 23.45
80 Bremner, Bird And Fortune 21 23.24
81 Pet Rescuers 21 24.00
82 Room For Improvement 21 24.19
83 Salvage Squad 20 20.55
84 Supersize Vs Superskinny 19 11.63
85 Battle Stations 19 17.37
86 A Place In Greece 19 19.05
87 Heroes Of Comedy 19 20.21
88 Location, Location, Location Revisited 18 6.39
89 Other People's Houses 18 14.22
90 Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights 18 14.39
91 Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere 17 16.29
92 Spin City 17 20.35
93 The Friday Night Project 17 21.06
94 Real Gardens 17 21.71
95 Equinox 17 21.88
96 Grand Designs Revisited 16 5.63
97 A Place In France 16 8.13
98 Gok's Fashion Fix 16 11.06
99 Football Stories 16 21.44
100 Stargate S G-1 16 22.19

 

And so, despite taking an average weekly position between 18th and 19th in the charts, and featuring lots of characters from Chester (we’re from Wrexham, it’s a local thing), Hollyoaks is the most ever-present show in the BARB hit parade over the last eleven years. That’s a full 567 broadcasts ahead of The Simpsons in second, despite it being, as far as we’ve been able to tell when seeing any of it, well, a bit shite actually.

Other notables: Countdown pipping Deal Or No Deal into third on the list, but given DOND has only been on air for less than half of the period under consideration, well done Noel. Big Brother and Brookside are the only shows in the top twenty to regularly warrant a place in weekly top tens. Meanwhile, Richard And Judy, Fifteen-To-One, Pet Rescue and Ricky Lake make the list of twentymost perma-hits, despite averaging placings in the lower third of each weekly rundown.

Slightly unsuprisingly, Friends is the most popular non-Simpson comedy, clocking up 485 appearance, most of which are repeats, while Frasier only performs slightly less admirably. In the arena of homegrown sitcommery, Father Ted reigns supreme, notching up 66 appearances in the list. That’s especially impressive given that the figures listed on BARB’s website don’t even start until five weeks after the premiere of the last ever Fr Ted episode, meaning that each appearance in the list is from a repeat showing. Indeed, there were only 25 episodes of Ted ever made, compared to 236 episodes of Friends (many of which were first-run). That means the average Ted episode appears 2.64 times on the list, whereas the average Friends ep makes it there just 2.06 times. This means that Craggy Island is officially better than New York. Sort of. In other US sitcom news, the magnificent My Name Is Earl sits in 66th place, narrowly beating the got-annoying-after-four-series Scrubs, yet the only reward both shows received was a sideways shunt onto E4. Bah.

As for US drama shows, E.R. is king, with Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin But With A Skinny American Woman… sorry, Ally McBeal following closely. Without A Trace performs admirably in 42nd place (just in front of the surely-everyone-hated-it-by-then TFI Friday), but Lost performed very well, putting in 52 appearances from the 49 episodes C4 had the rights to, most of which were premiered on E4. After all, Lost isn’t really a show that lends itself to repeat showings.

As for lifestyle shows, there are sterling performances from Pet Rescue, A Place In The Sun, Come Dine With Me, Time Team, Property Ladder, Grand Designs and Location x3. No idea why most of their advertising is from personal injury lawyers and 21st-century-rag-and-bone-men if they’re that popular.

Anyway, enough of annoyingly successful programmes. Here are a few selections from lower down the list that are sure to infuriate you, if you’ve got any sense. So much so, in fact, you might want to post a screenshot of the following table into one of those ha-ha-larious “demotivational poster” memes marked “when you see it, you’ll shit bricks”. Just after a shot of Michael Grade and a great big cake.

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Rank

Programme

Appearances on list

Av. Weekly Pos.

93 The Friday Night Project 17 21.06
136 Bo Selecta! 10 17.80
158 The Kevin Bishop Show 8 17.25
176 The Sunday Night Project 7 20.29
205 Peter Kay's Pheonix Nights 6 22.17
246 Dotcomedy 5 25.20
258 Star Stories 4 8.75
269 The I.T Crowd 4 11.00
299 A Bear's Tail 4 21.25
367 Film: The Net 3 13.67
384 Film: On The Buses 3 16.00
442 Le Show 3 28.00
456 Rude Tube 2 3.50
584 Peep Show 2 16.50
700 Spaced 2 25.50
1793 The Sopranos 1 28.00

 

Interesting for a number of reasons that might want you to think about buying a gun. Spaced clocking in at the 700th position on the list, even though all 14 episodes were first aired in the period under consideration here. Of those 14 episodes, just two made it into the Top Thirty for the weeks of transmission (for the record, w/e 26/9/99, 21st position 2.58m viewers, and w/e 11/3/01, 30th position and 2.37m viewers). Similarly, just two episodes of Peep Show make the weekly thirty (11/8/08, 28th, 1.46m, and 20/9/09, 5th, 2.16m – though that was from the most recent chart we’ve looked at, suggesting more of the current series will be there).

Beating it in the charts: A Bear’s Tail (“Oh no, my tail, which is actually a cock, has popped up for about the billionth week in a row”) appears four times, despite only having a single series, with Bo Selecta!, and its three jokes, appearing ten times. The cocking Friday/Sunday Night Project appear a total of 24 times, even though when they BBC had come up with the Saturday/Friday Night Armistice in the mid/late 90s, it was cancelled before you could say “whore in a helicopter”.

Other good/bad points: The I.T. Crowd being trumped by Star Stories, while Phoenix Nights (and no matter what you think of Peter Kay, the first series was brilliant) is bettered by The Kevin Bishop Show, both by appearances on the chart and average position. Meanwhile, in the world of classic US drama, The Sopranos made it into the Top 30 for a single solitary week, in 28th place.

For comparative purposes, you may also like to note that Peep Show and Spaced, both heralded (with more than a little justification) as modern classics of the sitcom format, have been bettered by well-meaning-but-ultimately-rubbish-Eurotrash-spin-off Le Show (no relation to the ace Harry Shearer show of the same name) and a repeat of the On The Buses film. Now, they aren’t sitcoms, admittedly, but hey, the single series of “grainy RealVideo clips blown up to full screen” internet clip show DotComedy made more appearances in the Channel Four weekly top thirty than both shows combined. The normal rules of logic clearly do not apply here.

Here’s a photo of Adam & Joe to make it all better.

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Want to guess how many times The Adam & Joe Show appeared in the weekly Channel Four Top 30? Series three, four and five were in the in the timeframe applicable to it. So go on, guess. If you said “not even once, and yet a showing of Nuns On The Run made it onto there, for fuckity fuck’s sake”, award yourself a correctness point.

Sigh.

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