Poll of the Year 2009

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Can you believe that January has crept up on us once again? Well we can. Nobody can know what he future may bring, but it is in looking to the past we can make a better future, and with that in mind it's time for the annual UKGameshows.com Poll of the Year 2009, in association with the all new fairly stylish Bother's Bar! Golly.

A reminder of the voting rules, in each category each pollster has five votes which they can use to vote for different shows, or if they feel particularly strongly about a show they can weigh the vote and use up to three of their allowance on one show.

So it's time to roll out the red carpet because the results await...


Hall of Fame 2009

The star-studded Hall of Fame where all shows would like to enter but only five-and-a-bit can come in freely, and if they are not on the list they aren't coming in.

You voted for 35 different shows between you, and in ascending order of popularity they are:

5= Total Wipeout, We Need Answers

Polling 6.1% each.Total Wipeout had pretty much every TV critic rather lazily declaring it be the "It's a Knockout for the 21st Century!" when it is, of course, the Takeshi's Castle of the 21st Century. Crazy knockabout fun, and even better if you haven't already seen the US original. Which we all have, unfortunately. But once you get over the change in tone (and rules, and comparative lack of obstacles) it's still crazy knockabout fun. "A fresh entertaining show on Saturday nights for all the family. Nice to see the celebrites have some pain at Christmas." Charming. Also "people falling off giant obstacles into water is always funny," and who are we to argue?

Secondly We Need Answers, the cut-price comedy quiz the show the Conservative government would try to ban. Based on a successful Edinburgh fringe show with actual questions posed by members of the public texting a popular question answering service, the BBC4 show has been a hit with the pollsters. "Absolutely hilarious, very surreal, and cost about 20p to make. What's not to like?" Also described as "more akin to the glory days of Shooting Stars than the new series of Shooting Stars was."

4- Divided

With 8% of the vote. Considering the original Dutch version of the show didn't last more than seven episodes, a strong poll showing and a second series is quite a result. "An evil end game - but what I enjoyed most were the lateral and varied question types in preliminary rounds" is the general gist of your comments, but we particularly enjoyed "hate the show's ethics and suspect series two will descend into orgies of mutual destruction, but have to admire the visceral reaction it induced in me (my blood was literally boiling). Questions very appropriate."

2= Pointless, The Krypton Factor

Pointless was a bit of a surprise breakout hit this scoring 9.5%. Sounded a bit weak when we first heard about it (predict the least popular answers to survey questions. Yeah, so far, so Topranko!), in fact trying to come up with answers to proper fact-based list questions the public won't have come up with makes the show rather more interesting and compelling than it originally appears. Rather jollily hosted by Alexander Armstrong and assisted by Endemol exec and Total Wipeout script writer (and geek hero, if the comments are anything to go by) Richard Osman in a fit of cost-cutting or vanity we don't know. Many pollsters question the longevity of the show however, how many possible usable lists can there be? And people also would like a full list of pointless answers rather than the selected highlights Osman offers us. "Surprisingly play-alongable, watching it every weekday for a month didn't drag in the slightest. Pointless Friend Richard (call him by his name) is the star of the show." "Best of the daytime quizzers by a country mile and a worthy successor to the ageing Weakest Link and Eggheads. Great mix of trivia and banter." A second series is coming, although possibly in a nod to the show's questionable longevity it is a slightly shorter format.

Meanwhile, The Krypton Factor was ITV's first advertiser-funded show. And goodness, how worried were we when we heard this was being bought back? And yet as it turns out, thankfully, they didn't mess it up. Sure, there's no plane simulator and the assault course was a disappointment but what was there was undeniably The Krypton Factor. You voted for it "for just plain 'doing it right'. Wonderful set, faithful to the original and restraint in adding new gimmicks." Others acknowledge that there are issues (it would have certainly been interesting if the 2010 version with it's lack of intelligence test would poll so well) but are thankful that what's there works well.

1- The Cube

Which leaves your favourite new show of 2009 polling a whopping 19.8%. Here are a selection of your comments:

  • "It's the only show in 2009 that made you shout "yesssss" when somebody completes a difficult game. The future of game shows is here."
  • "Stylistically alone, it has reset the bench mark.So many more positives could be listed. Intuitive gameplay, superb hosting, great casting of contestants..."
  • "EXCELLENT. Exciting, tense and fun. The best gameshow of the decade."
  • "Best thing ITV's done for a long time in any genre, not just gameshows. Schofield a more than admirable host ("You may remove your trousers.") Excellent mix of mental and physical challenges. More please."
  • "Game shows of the noughties all managed to fall into the same irritating traps over and over again: strategy-less gameplay, celebrity contestants, spoilers before commercial breaks, dire graphics, dire music and little imaginativity. The Cube was the most outwardly brilliant attempt in almost a decade not to plant a foot in a single one of these. On ITV! Utterly breathtaking."
  • "I like the fact it has it's only faux-futuristic mythology without getting embarrassing to watch with people."

Bubbling under: Accumulate! (5.7%), The Chase (5.7%) You Have Been Watching (4.9%)

Hall of SHAME 2009

Well yes, good shows are all well and, er, good but sometimes it's fun just to vent and be angry, and we thank producers for deliberately making some quite rubbish shows to enable us to do just that. Truly public service broadcasting at its very best or something along those lines at any rate.

37 different shows up for nomination, but only one of them can set a new percentage share benchmark. And the runners and riders for that prestigious award are:

5= Divided, Total Wipeout, The Fuse

This year Endemol manage to get two different shows on both the Fame and Shame lists, so well done to them. These shows all managed to get 4.7% of the vote. Divided gets in mainly thanks to its evil endgame which didn't go down well with the voting public (several of whom suggesting that it made them "physically angry"), some of whom also voted positively for it. "A truly odious show; when one of the contestants ended up in tears I resolved not to watch this filth again." Others suggested it's "far too slow, and [has] a poor presenter." "A decent quiz let down by the fact that it always just came down to whoever shouted loudest."

The inclusion of Total Wipeout here is more interesting from various perspectives - a lot of people voting against it because it's not as good or as stupid as the US original (as one pollster put it: "Not Americanized enough. Or at least, it lost something in translation. Would I be making this criticism had I not fallen in love with the ABC version? Probably not."), other people voting against it because "just when you think television cannot get any more stupid, it does." Two completely opposite reasons, in a poll like this they don't cancel each other out, they accumulate.

The Fuse was ITV having a go at a new format, it wasn't completely awful but pollsters weren't enamoured with Austin Healy as host ("you're not a game show host, stick to rugby."). Other pollsters didn't like the "Americanized contestant applauding", and another satirizes the pitch thusly: "Here's a theme. You have exactly five minutes to make a quiz show around it. Be as unoriginal as you like. No studio audience will be provided. Good luck."

3= Totally Saturday, Paris Hilton's British Best Friend

Both earning 6.3% of the vote.

Totally Saturday was the BBC's attempt to bring back the Noel's House Party glory years, but suffered from being, heh, "Totally Tat more like." Not much else was given, but it was certainly a show it was very hard to get excited about.

Paris Hilton... is fairly unique on this list in that several pollsters claim that they "never saw it but I'm judging on the name. It's got to be awful, right?" Others who did watch it found it "appalling, vomit-inducing and just downright annoying. My sister loved it, and she has terrible taste in TV." Also summed up thus: "ITV2, the channel nobody wanted, finally hits the pointlessness jackpot with this crass example of content so empty-headed it does not deserve to be called television. Who, in all honesty, gives a crap which one of a bunch of nobodies gets the dubious privilege of hanging around some meeja club with Paris Hilton for a week or two 'til the heiress gets bored of her new plaything and swans off back to the States? A genuine example of style over substance - in fact, style was its entire substance."

2- Heads or Tails

Flippi- (No. - Ed) Heads or Tails called it wrong many times, earning 15.7%. "A braindead concept but if was done as a game show parody it wouldn't be in the Hall of Shame. Even JLC tried to be serious, he knew this show was silly. Should've made more gags on his 'shaft'." Pollsters complained that it was "terribly boring and dull, and surprisingly complicated." There's an inherent fault with the format that "if anyone is lucky enough to win a decent amount of money in the first phase, there's no incentive for them to gamble in the final." Others succinctly summed it up as "a piece of toss."

1- The Colour of Money

With a category record-shattering 23.5% of the vote, The Colour of Money was the most disliked new show of 2009. Interestingly, it's the American-style presentation (although several commented that it had a nice set) that seemed to irk more than the format itself. You know something isn't right when the Italians (who will watch anything) do a version featuring very scantily clad women being very suggestive and it's still a failure. A selection of your comments follow:

  • "A solid game, but the X-Factor style sob stories and ridiculous reasons for picking colours marred it as well as that annoying woman that kept saying 'Please, please, please' in front of every machine!"
  • "Too Americanized in it's presentation, went too far in stating it's own sense of earth-shattering importance."
  • "Not actually too bad a show in format... however, ITV overplayed TCOM to the point that it became a parody of itself. Overwrought graphics and music, unnecessarily overblown sob stories - had it been pared down to a pacier, tighter, cheerier show it may well have succeeded."
  • "The Colour of Money had the most beautiful set, but no game to go with it."
  • "What was frustrating is that it could have been good as Deal or No Deal if anyone had acknowledged in the development stage that the important decision making process in Deal is not in the picking of boxes - but when to stop picking boxes. COM gave no equivalent option."
  • "It was awful but I secretly really really enjoyed it!"

So there we are, the worst show of 2009 is in fact the show people sort-of like. You're a confused/confusing bunch you pollsters!

Bubbling Under: Guesstimation (3.5%), Chris Moyles' Quiz Night (2.7%), The Krypton Factor (2.4%)

The Golden Fiver

We can't remember why it's Golden Fiver and not Golden Five either. But nonetheless this is a big award because it's open to any show (old or new) that had a new episode broadcast in the UK in 2009.

52 different shows got nods, and the shows that got the most vigorous nods are:

5- Countdown

Well this comes as a bit of a surprise. It's spent the last few years bubbling under but the relaunch with Jeff and Rachel in 2009, which has apparently suffered in the ratings, has proven rather a minor hit with the pollsters, claiming 4.7% of the vote, up 2.1% on last year. "I thought I would lose a lot of interest in the show when Carol left, but Rachel Riley is more than proving her worth, and Jeff Stelling is also really good. And it is still the same old letters-and-numbers game. Why the Daily Mail has to give it a hard time I don't know..."

4- Deal or No Deal

They said it would never last but here we are, four years on, and it's still making the top five with 5.8%, down 3% on last time. Helped by some very exciting games in the weeks leading up to the poll, no doubt.

3- Accumulate!

It's a bronze place finish for Daniel Peake and the low-budget web-based quiz, scoring 6.2%, we're slightly baffled it's done better here than in the Hall of Fame. Still! It's the general knowledge quiz show which threatens to fall into parody at any moment yet never actually loses sight of its quiz credentials. We particualarly like the Accumulatower, the test of knowledge and plastic cup-based construction skill. You thought it was "proof that fun, entertaining viewing doesn't have to come at a large price," and others added that "the good natured humour of the show penetrates to the categories and questions, and although some of the jokes used in those are fairly awful, this only seems to add to the show."

1= The Cube, Only Connect

Unbelieveably we have joint winners! 2009's breakout hit The Cube and the ever-popular Only Connect polled 13.2% each. This puts Only Connect on a hat-trick. "You can't quibble with quality, and everything about this show is quality," although one commenter remarked "I worry that they are starting to believe the hype and setting the questions too hard," but followed with the praise that it's "the only show on tv that genuinely wants the top players." People want a transfer to BBC2, and with its recent surge in ratings it may yet get it. Lots of praise for Vicky Coren as well, "...mixes warmth, humour and "ice queen" in a much smoother blend than Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link."

Bubbling Under: Total Wipeout (4.3%), University Challenge (4.3%), The Krypton Factor (3.9%), Pointless (3.5%), The X Factor (3.1%)

Phew, what a year. Let's just take a little bit of time to look at last year's Golden Fiver and see how the shows of yesteryear have done in the poll of, er, nowayear. QI felt a sigificant drop down to 1.6% (down 3.2%), The Apprentice actually finished just outside the top ten with 2.7%. Of last year's Bubbling Unders, University Challenge has actually increased its vote share from 4%, Hole in the Wall got no votes, and Golden Balls sinks to 0.8%. The X Factor has had a bit of a storming year, whilst Strictly Come Dancing languishes with 0.4% of the vote. The Colour of Money, despite its record poll showing in the Hall of Shame still managed 1.6% here. Interesting! Or not. Meanwhile radio was best represented by Fighting Talk with 0.8%.

Thanks for voting! And if you enjoyed that we'll be back in the late Spring for the Gameshow General Election. Bye!

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