Never Had it So Good
Greg Scott (unaired pilot)
Yorkshire Television for ITV1, 7 May to 1 November 2002 (39 episodes in 1 series)
Never Had it So Good was one of many attempts to fill an awkward hole in ITV's schedules. The loss of Home and Away in 2001 had left the channel bereft of an anchor at 5pm, and neither Crossroads nor Night an Day (sic) was proving attractive to viewers. The daytime version of The People Versus had been a moderate success during summer 2001, and ITV reckoned that something along those lines might work.
The main competition was Richard and Judy, for Finnegan and Madeley had taken their morning chat show to Channel 4 in late 2001, plonked it down at 5pm, and it was beating ITV hands down.
Full marks for trying, but the execution lacked a certain something. As seems almost mandatory, the show featured celebrities gassing about the recent past. The captains were Fred Dinenage and Rowland Rivron, each joined by two celebs of the calibre of Toyah Willcox, Nerys Hughes, Christine Hamilton and Sherrie Hewson.
The first three rounds were almost identical: the celebs are shown a piece of nostalgia (some clips from a year, an old commercial, a few pictures) and invited to name the year or the product or the link, and asked a supplementary question or two. It might well have been a hoot to record, but this energy didn't transfer to the finished programme - the show came across as slow and dull.
We did like the final speed round - the teams had to name five items in a category (for instance, five hits for ABBA, or five Lloyd Webber musicals) for lots of points, or fewer items for fewer points. They had a minute to go through as many categories as they could.
In the final analysis, ITV didn't know what it wanted to do at 5pm. Later in the year, there would be ill-fated revivals of Catchphrase and Family Fortunes, as the channel threw all its ideas at the screen in the hope that some of them would stick. Not until The Paul O'Grady Show in 2004 would ITV have a show that regularly beat Richard and Judy, and no game show would really work in this slot until Golden Balls in 2007.