Gameshow General Election 2010

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In 2002, did a poll to find out what and who were the greatest shows and hosts of all time.

In 2006 we did it again.

And four years are up, gameshow parliament has dissolved and now you: the reader, got to be judge and jury on over eighty years of TV and Radio history as we ask you to tell us here in 2010 what you believe are the greatest shows and hosts of all time.

Unfortunately Tony King couldn't be with us to analyse the results. But you may be interested in the methodology - pollsters chose their ten best shows and awarded them points in the Eurovision stylee - 12pts for their favourite, 10 for second, 8 for third then one fewer point for one less rank.

Of course, the fairest way would be to get every pollster to rank all the several hundred shows on the site, but that would be a bit unwieldy. As it is, the top ten voting format makes for quite interesting lists with a lot of interesting omissions.

Hush now, the returning officer is about to reveal the results...


The shows

30 - Pointless

A New Entry for 2009's breakout quiz of the obscure, which changed to ask for fewer obscure things for season two and seems to have become more of a hit because of it.

29 - Gladiators

A big drop in the poll for the Glads, down 19 places on the last poll. Since 2006, the format went through a creditable revival on Sky One with plenty of references to the former series (John Anderson! Wolf! Old Glads vs New Glads! Being better than the US revival!), albeit much of the electorate showed a preference for the originals. Unfortunately such is the fleeting fame of the new Glads that we didn't recognise two of them fronting Strongman contests on Bravo under their actual real names until it was pointed out to us.

28 - The Adventure Game

Doogy rev. Up 8 places from the last poll, Uncle will be pleased.

27 - The Apprentice

Down 9 places, interestingly as the series becomes more and more popular with no sign of slowing down it's dropping down the all-time list, possibly not helped by the timing of the poll, Lord Sir Alan's show has had to be put back to later in the year to avoid any idea of electoral bias on the BBC. Saying that, the reality gameshow genre is represented pretty poorly in the 2010 list generally in fact.

26 - Wanted

Up 1 place - still a lot of love the game that was ahead of its time. Could you remake it? Should you remake it? The core of running around Britain playing hide and seek is still a compelling one, and could be very interesting with all the mobile technology being used today, but could you make a compelling live show? It's not as if there are as many telephone boxes around these days.

25 - Treasure Hunt

Down 16, the first and (spoiler alert) probably not the last Jacques Antoine inspired show on this list. Most people showing a preference for the eighties original - some people commenting that the remake "lost the 'look at the beauty of the UK' angle upon which the original thrived", but others also commenting "may be slanderous, but I found the Dermot and Suzi revival better than the original." Lots of people calling it "innovative".

24 - Fort Boyard

And look here comes another one. Down 11 for the granddaddy of the modern adventure game (if you don't count The Adventure Game), still a going concern in France where it's 20 years old this year, feels as though it's dying a bit then voila! Successful two-team adaptations have started springing up all over Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and the French are trying out that route. Could it have a knock-on effect on the UK? We're probably "due".

23 - You Bet!

Up 17 places. Great show, with recent repeats on Challenge perhaps the reason behind the sudden surge of votes. Although Ant and Dec went on to host a rather unsuccessful US version of it in 2008, with Britain's Got Talent all the rage, you'd think someone would put two and two together and think about letting members of the public show off on this again, wouldn't you?

22 - Duel

New Entry - this is an interesting one, a flawed gem to be sure, the sort of second-tier show a bit like Poker Face that people are quite fond of but didn't really do well enough in its timeslot to get a second series. The central conceit was compelling and fun with well-written questions and decently engaging contestants. We've said it before and we'll say it again - divide the prizes by five, make it five or six victories to win the jackpot, you'd have a brilliant daily show, with prizes that look decent but probably wouldn't average more than about £5-7k an episode long term. Think about it.

21 - Have I Got News for You

And have we got news for them, actually up 5 places from the previous vote. Interesting fact: if they don't just give Alexander Armstrong the host's job by the time the next poll comes out in 2014, the show would have had guest hosts for half its life. Angus who?

20 - Family Fortunes

Down 3 places, so not the top answer but not an Eh-errrrrr either. Daytime version failed to kill the show off, a special one-off episode on Vernon Kay's Gameshow Marathon leading to a fully blown and successful series, albeit played with the families of actual C-list celebrities for charity. Recent remake tried to popularize the famous Family Fortunes term "single money". Failed.

19 - Catchphrase

Just say what you see, and we see a show that's gone up 7 places, and is well overdue a sympathetic remake by our reckoning. Just what is Mr Chips doing? It shouldn't be too difficult to come up with the graphics given modern computing power.

18 - QI

Our buzzer goes Up 13. By our reckoning, QI is the best placed of all panel quiz shows in the 2010 list. We wonder what will happen when they run out of letters to make categories out of. Fun QI-esque fact: QI is the highest scoring two-letter word in Scrabble, especially if you can play it two ways with the Q on a triple word score.

17 - Divided

It made the UKGS.C 2009 Hall of Fame and Shame, it's a new entry in the 2010 honours. A show with well-written questions, but with an end game that divides the audience just as much as it divides the players.

16 - Bullseye

Iiiiiiiin at 16 and up 3 places is the ever popular darts-based quiz. 2006 Challenge TV remake with Dave Spikey better than given credit for (although let down by prizes that were a bit naff and a scoreboard you could barely read. And only one tune for Pounds For Points? Unbelievable), but ultimately doomed to failure. Pity.

15 - Raven

Up 23 places. Raven has turned out to be a very dependable kids adventure show that has quietly outlasted some of the kings of the genre. It will be interesting to see in twenty years time if it is still spoken about in hushed tones in the same way, for example, Knightmare is, although there's no real reason it couldn't still actually be going in twenty years time.

14 - Fifteen-to-One

Up 2 places, if there was a feeling in 2006 of a collapse of the quiz vote, there's no such fear in 2010.

13 - Mastermind

Somewhat unbelievably, a new entry. Straight down the middle grade-A quizzing action.

12 - Interceptor

Up 1 place, a consistently high ranking for a show that only had eight episodes made over twenty years ago. Interceptor is almost certainly a show you could attempt a remake for but would probably be criticised for not being the original regardless of actual quality. Who could convincingly fill Sean O' Kane's boots? Actually, he's only 45. COME ON ITV, MAKE IT HAPPEN.

11 - Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Down 6 but still a very high finish for what is possibly the most important television show on the modern age. Certainly less of a going concern these days (pulling in barely a quarter of what it could get during its heyday), the knock-on effects and remoulding of the genre have been ginormous.

10 - Blockbusters

Down 4, but it's another strong showing for the Bob Holness quiz. And it's interesting we say that, because several pollsters mentioned how integral Holness was to their appreciation of the show. That and the giant projector, obviously, which would seem to be why the various remakes with Michael Aspel and Liza Tarbuck are so rarely mentioned, despite it being exactly the same quiz.

9 - University Challenge

Up 19 places, the show had been trundling along happily on Monday nights for years and years, then Trimblemania happened and people started talking about it, then her team got disqualified in the final and it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup. Since then, there have been rather tabloid attempts to sex-up the show a bit with the tabloids taking any opportunity to ask if any contestant who is above average is the new Gail Trimble. It isn't terribly convincing, but it has reminded people that University Challenge is basically rather a good quiz. And to be fair, the show hasn't done too badly out of the publicity.

8 - Countdown

A non-mover, they said it would die when Carol Vorderman left (or was forced out, whatever). They were wrong, with some people calling the current Jeff and Rachel combination the best hosts the show has ever had. Blimey.

7 - Knightmare

It's another non-mover. Knightmare is over twenty years old now, and yet no-one since has thought to try out something similar despite evident popularity and improved special effects. Probably because "they'd have to be mad," according to Tim Child.

6 - The Krypton Factor

Down 2. Sometimes you can get what you want, and after years of wanting a new series, we finally get one - and a pretty faithful one at that - which then comes back for a further series with the intelligence test removed. That's a bit like having The Krypton Factor without an assault course. Still, at least the remake has been properly difficult, which we wouldn't have expected from ITV at the time, frankly.

5 - Deal or No Deal

Down 2. They said it wouldn't last. It has, and its shored up its vote pretty well. Games of chance have always existed, the genius of Deal or No Deal, and the bit that still goes over the heads of some people, lies in that it concentrates on the real consequences of the player's decisions, the picking boxes is the window dressing. And how many other shows can still make a four-figure sum look exciting these days?

4 - The Cube

The critical darling of Saturday evening television is a new entry. Its high placing is probably no surprise given that it topped the Poll of the Year 2009 for best new format and tied for best overall show. It'd probably win "Best Use of Special Effects In a Gameshow" at the BAFTAs, if such a BAFTA existed. Which it doesn't. Yet.

3 - Only Connect

In all-time music polls, there are usually one or two songs that are very recent that tend to do probably a bit better than possibly they should because they are new and people are excited by it, and history will determine how accurate that original placing is. The highest new entry, 2010's Bad Romance is Only Connect, and Vicky Coren is our very own Lady Gaga. Vicky Gaga, if you will (incidentally, this analogy would be better served for the more recent The Cube, but 'Vicky Gaga' is funnier than 'Lady Schofield', so there). In the short space of three series, this show has already built up a strong following on BBC4, making the really hard quiz one of the highest rated shows on the channel, no doubt helped by cleverly scheduling it after University Challenge finishes on BBC2. Only Connect is the only quiz you could series stack on iPlayer at the time of writing. And we're so over the Greek letter thing now.

2 - The Mole

Non-moving, which isn't bad for a show that's ten years old that nobody watched on Channel 5. And yet it was (and still remains) genuinely interesting, hilarious, clever and brilliant. Other countries keep bringing it back for another go every few years, surely it's time we had another go? Expertly hosted by that Glenn Hugill, whatever happened to him?

1 - The Crystal Maze

So if Only Connect is Bad Romance, that must make The Crystal Maze gameshows' answer to Bohemian Rhapsody. Or Cry Muz, as Ben Elton would probably call it. Still top of the pops after twenty years, The Crystal Maze remains pollsters' favourite show of all time. And, well, why shouldn't it be? One pollster summed it up very well: "The de facto to please everyone - physical challenges to entertain Mums and children who liked to see the blokes fall into the Aztec water (for varying reasons, admittedly) and mental challenges to give the geeks a chance. Particular mention must of course go to the Richard O'Brien era, for his irreverent conversations with Mumsie - and for playing the harmonica at just the wrong time. Perfection?"

So despite endless polls suggesting it's the show the public would most like to see bought back it still hasn't happened. And the risks would be great - it'd be fairly expensive to make, and if the viewing public decides that the remake is worse than the original in any respect then it could destroy the legacy. But everyone who grew up with it and watch it is now of the age where they probably have children, and children love the show anyway - it'd have true young intergenerational appeal and potentially a very large amount of viewers. Surely it's time for someone to think about giving it another go? No we won't make do with The Door, thanks.

Bubbling under

Yes, and yet: no.

31 - Down 17 Winning Lines
32 - NE Who Dares Wins
33 - NE Incredible Games
34 - NE Mock the Week
35 - NE Turnabout
36 - NE Eggheads
37 - Down 12 Eurovision Song Contest
38 - Down 26 The Weakest Link
39 - NE Push the Button
40 - Down 10 Telly Addicts
41 - Up 6 Going for Gold
42 - NE Poker Face
43 - NE Total Wipeout
44 - NE The Whole 19 Yards
45 - NE Bob's Full House
46 - NE I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
47 - NE Late Night Poker
48 - NE Scavengers
49 - NE Golden Balls
50 - NE Come Dine with Me

Normally at this juncture we would break down the results by primary channel to determine which channel is best. But the last four years have muddied the waters somewhat - we've had shows that have changed channel (do Have I Got News For You and QI and even The Weakest Link count as BBC2 or BBC1 now?) and shows that have been remade for different channels (Going For Gold, Gladiators, Bullseye), and what about shows that get first-run on digital channels, but will be watched in greater numbers on main channels (like Raven)?

Still, we've had a go but be warned it's slightly less scientific than usual and has involved some decision making on our part. The points system is the same: 10/9/8/7/6 points for 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th place, 5 points for top 10, 4 points for top 15, 3 points for top 20, 2 points for top 30, 1 point for top 50.

The scoring for our previous polls are given alongside the current results. The Eurovision Song Contest is not allocated to any channel.

Channel Points scored Points in 2006 Points in 2002
ITV 51 54 50
Channel 4 31 38 40
BBC2 18 12 14
BBC1 17 14 19
five 11 15 16
BBC4 8 0 0
Radio 4 1 0 0
Challenge 0 0 1

So another resounding win for ITV1, and another disappointing performance from BBC1, really, although not surprising considering that new afternoon quiz launches tend to be on BBC2 these days. Incidentally, if you add all the BBC's channels together you'd have 46 which is a bit more competitive.

And it's nice to see radio represented on the list - for reference, Fighting Talk finished in 103rd place, Just a Minute was 96th and The Unbelievable Truth finished 81st. Not bad going considering the hundreds of shows that people could have picked from. Web-only internet favourite Accumulate! finished in 65th position.

132 different shows received votes in total.

The Hosts

We decided to use proportional representation to determine the top hosts this year.

Not really! It's the same methodology as the shows poll, although fewer people voted in this one. But there is no 'none of the above' option, so the results that stand are as follows:

30 - Les Dennis

If he's up there I'll give you the money meself... and he is! Down 8, Dennis has barely been on our screens since the last poll, other than a stint hosting Five's In the Grid and Classic Comeback on cable. Best known for his hosting role on Family Fortunes.

29 - Hugo Myatt

Treguard of Denshelm is up 1 place on the 2006 list. Myatt is of course most associated for his dungeon mastering role on Knightmare, although Tim Child says he wrote all of Myatt's interjections and ad-libs as it turns out. Will be seen playing a vicar in upcoming Danny Dyer horror film Dead Cert. Ooh, nasty, etc.

28 - Dermot O'Leary

Interestingly down 10 places. Interesting because it's only really recently he's hit the big time, hosting popular lottery quiz 1 vs 100 and even more popular singing competition The X Factor. Will undoubtedly be best loved for his fronting of Big Brother's Little Brother, probably the most important reality spin-off of all time.

27 - Bamber Gascoigne

Up 1 place for the legendary University Challenge host.

26 - Nicholas Parsons

Actor and host of Sale of the Century. Down 11 places, rarely in the public eye but still hosting Just a Minute on Radio 4 after all these years. In fact, he's Britain's oldest gameshow host at time of writing.

25 - Anne Robinson

Down 13 places for the Queen of Mean. Still hosting The Weakest Link after ten years.

24 - David Mitchell

A new entry. Mitchell is a comic probably better known for his double act with Robert Webb (see Numberwang) than his gameshow hosting prowess, but in the ones he has hosted (such as The Bubble and The Unbelievable Truth) tends to come out outshining the format.

23 - Magnus Magnusson

Up 9 places. Best known for his hosting role on Mastermind for 25 years, Magnusson passed away in 2007.

22 - Simon Amstell

New Entry. Cheeky comic who single-handedly made Never Mind the Buzzcocks worth watching again. Although he was better on Popworld, obviously. Gameshow career includes hilarious moments as a contestant on Gamesmaster and Family Catchphrase, the former of which can be found on Youtube.

21 - Jeremy Paxman

Paxo's stuffed Gascoigne this time round, but he's still down 7 places, and this despite the surge in the University Challenge vote. Come on!

20 - Alexander Armstrong

The man most people would like to become permanent Have I Got News for You host is, we believe, a new entry. Also very much liked currently as the host of breakout BBC2 hit Pointless.

19 - Terry Wogan

Up 19. He's recently given up his massively popular daily breakfast radio show but is still a going concern with popular memory quiz Perfect Recall on Channel 4.

18 - Jeff Stelling

Think of it as a Premiership promotion. A new entry for the man some are saying is already the best host Countdown has ever had. We were already quite fond of Sky's Soccer Saturday which he still fronts.

17 - Matthew Kelly

A non-mover, he's not been on our screens for years, preferring instead on being an award winning actor. Come back to telly, Matthew! We miss you!

16 - William G. Stewart

Wow, we've double checked, he's actually a new entry. Best known for his role on Fifteen-to-One which he hosted for 15 years.

15 - Gordon Burns

Up 1 place despite not hosting a show since 2006, maybe it's the anti-Ben Shephard effect. Still reading the news in the Northwest for the BBC.

14 - Roy Walker

Up 11 places. The Irish comic is best known for Catchphrase, but can also sometimes be heard voiceovering blooper shows on Challenge.

13 - Paul Daniels

Down 2 and still performing, albeit not on TV sadly. To be honest, it really is about time someone gave him a new show to front.

12 - Glenn Hugill

Down 3, Hugill is best known to gameshow fans as the host and co-producer of Five's fantastic The Mole, and recently has started doing voiceover work again (commentating on The Whole 19 Yards, for example). And there's that Deal or No Deal thing he's helped make a success as well. In fact, it's one of the longest running versions in the world.

11 - Victoria Coren

Writer, poker player, broadcaster and new entry, she's here for one reason alone, her stewardship of Only Connect on BBC4 where she can make some rather tart comments of the contestants but still be on their side really (this bit seems to go over the heads of some people on the internet) whilst still remaining authoritative and likable.

10 - Bob Holness

One of the main reasons Blockbusters did so well on the shows list according to some of the pollsters was because of this man, down 2 places on the last list. Last seen by us on Gameshow Marathon where he looked a bit not quite with it (he is 82 these days), unfortunately, so probably won't be returning to host any potential Blockbusters remake.

9 - Stephen Fry

Technological whizz-kid and apparent national treasure Fry is up 20 places, mainly for his sterling work on QI, although recently was one of the guest hosts of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

8 - Richard Whiteley

Well some people think Jeff Stelling is the best, but apparently more people think it's the late Mayor of Wetwang, down 1 on the previous chart.

7 - Phillip Schofield

Up 3 for, as one pollster summed him up: "the most likeable host on the box, bar none. Has the magic touch that yer Shephards and Knowleses will never have. And a remarkable strike rate of hits too, whether that's because he picks his shows well, lifts them by his presence, or is just plain lucky, it's all good."

6 - Noel Edmonds

Don't splatter little Noely! Edmonds is down 3 places from the last poll, but still a very good showing. He's signed a contract to host Deal or No Deal right through to 2012 - what odds on it making ten years?

5 - Ant and Dec

Down 1 place, not only great hosts (basically the kings of ITV entertainment) but also an eye for a good format, their production company Gallowgate has been responsible for many respected formats over the last few years, whether it be their own (Poker Face) or imports (Beat the Star, Duel). They're not always successful, but they're always worth a watch.

4 - Chris Tarrant

Up 2 places, Tarrant has become the UK's most successful gameshow host, although by "most successful" we mean "has hosted the most", he probably also holds the record for "most number of flops", and listening to him trying to talk up formats in interviews that aren't terribly good has become a regular source of entertainment. Still, it's rarely his fault - he's usually the best thing in them. Doesn't look like retiring any time soon and still hosting Who Wants to be a Millionaire amongst other things, which is nice.

3 - Richard O'Brien

Up 2 places. The problem with making The Crystal Maze entirely his own is that he becomes a very, very difficult act to follow - he's still in theatre now, but at 68 there would be no chance of running around the maze now you would have thought, despite inevitable "bring back Richard O' Brien on The Crystal Maze!" groups on Facebook, or whatever. It would basically have been rather a lot better for everyone concerned if he was a bit less good as master of the maze, in retrospect.

2 - Bruce Forsyth

Oooh, controversial! The winner of the previous two polls, Brucie is down 1 place - this despite professionally hosting live Saturday night entertainment in the form of Strictly Come Dancing for over five years now, although he seems to be talking about retirement more and more these days. Still though, hasn't he done well?

1 - Bob Monkhouse

Up 1 place, and has been climbing every poll since we first started doing them. He passed away in 2003, and evidently pollsters felt there's still a Bob-shaped gap that hasn't been filled. Monkhouse remained one of the sharpest hosts on television right up until the end, and in 2010 he's voted the Best Host of All Time.

Bubbling under

Just because they didn't make the top 30 doesn't make them bad:

31 - Up 2 Jim Bowen
32 - NE Dara O'Briain
33 - Down 7 Michael Underwood
34 - NE Richard Hammond
35 - NE Vernon Kay
36 - Up 12 Angus Deayton
37 - NE Cat Deeley
38 - Down 25 Davina McCall
39 - NE Humphrey Lyttelton
40 - Up 10 Craig Stephens (Brainteaser)
41 - Down 14 Michael Barrymore
42 - NE Nick Hancock
43 - NE Paddy McGuinness
44 - NE Rachel Riley
45 - NE Alan Carr
46 - NE Caroline Flack
47 - Down 23 Pat Sharp
48 - Down 13 Dale Winton
49 - NE Jeremy Beadle
50 - Down 6 Louise Noel (Show Me the Money)

And that's it! Thanks to everyone who voted, we'll do this all again in 2014, with regular Polls of the Year in the meantime.

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