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.
|Rank||Programme||Appearances on list||Av. Weekly Pos.|
|4||Deal Or No Deal||1040||11.53|
|7||Richard And Judy||527||23.52|
|12||A Place In The Sun||249||18.25|
|13||V Graham Norton||241||15.92|
|14||Come Dine With Me||240||16.90|
|19||Celebrity Big Brother||120||6.87|
|20||Will And Grace||115||14.43|
|24||Location, Location, Location||95||7.71|
|25||Sex And The City||90||13.62|
|31||So Graham Norton||69||13.01|
|32||10 Years Younger||67||12.19|
|35||Big Brother's Little Brother||66||23.42|
|38||Without A Trace||56||18.79|
|42||No Going Back||49||8.33|
|44||How Clean Is Your House?||48||11.71|
|46||8 Out Of 10 Cats||44||10.89|
|47||You Are What You Eat||42||8.86|
|49||Montel Williams Show||41||24.56|
|51||Gordon Ramsay's F Word||38||7.08|
|55||How Clean Is Your House||33||7.76|
|57||Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares||29||3.72|
|58||The Secret Millionaire||29||4.90|
|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|
|66||My Name Is Earl||27||23.26|
|67||Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA||26||4.85|
|70||Channel 4 News||26||22.50|
|71||Trigger Happy Tv||24||10.58|
|72||Smack The Pony||23||17.26|
|75||Secrets Of The Dead||22||13.91|
|80||Bremner, Bird And Fortune||21||23.24|
|82||Room For Improvement||21||24.19|
|84||Supersize Vs Superskinny||19||11.63|
|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|
|93||The Friday Night Project||17||21.06|
|96||Grand Designs Revisited||16||5.63|
|97||A Place In France||16||8.13|
|98||Gok's Fashion Fix||16||11.06|
|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.
Appearances on list
Av. Weekly Pos.
|93||The Friday Night Project||17||21.06|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.