This Time Next Year



Davina McCall


Twofour for ITV, 2 November 2016 to 12 March 2019 (18 episodes in 3 series)


This Time Next Year is all about the prizes. Life-changing prizes, and you choose your own. The contestant names their own prize in front of a studio audience, and is given a full year to earn it.

Each segment - and we'll get four in a full episode - follows a similar format. We meet the contestant, and see them name their prize. "By this time next year, I'll be a published author", for instance. The contestant walks off through a door marked "This Time"...

...and straight back on stage through another door, "Next Year". By television magic, one year has elapsed. Has the contestant won their prize? Have they lost weight, gained languages, learned to walk?

During the intervening year, while our contestant was in pursuit of that prize, they were followed by a film crew. Not all day every day, but often enough to make a sensible film about their pursuit of the prize. Cilla Black's The Moment of Truth condensed a lot of learning into a little time, but This Time Next Year has no further challenge at the end.

Did the contender win their prize? Were they published, or do they have a pile of reject slips to dwarf Richard Osman? It almost doesn't matter, the real reward is in the journey, and the lasting effects afterwards.

This Time Next Year is at the margins of game shows. ITV talks in terms of "challenges" and "achievements", hoping to attract an upmarket audience of older women. The "life-changing prize" is literally a commitment to change your own life, by doing something (or not doing something, like biting your nails). Other shows offer cash to help change your life, This Time Next Year literally does it.

Psychologists say that the "commitment norm" encourages people to follow through on a pledge we've made in public, and there are few more public arenas than a primetime ITV show with Davina McCall. We often saw this in the spate of psychological game shows around 2004 (Double Cross is a prime example), where contestants would stick with their alliances even when we viewers knew they'd get betrayed.

The television magic quick-cut from "before" to "after" was used on ITV's Change Your Tune. By not telling the tale of the journey between, Change Your Tune became indistinguishable from a decent karaoke night. This Time Next Year has its emotional heft from the journey.

Theme music

Nick Foster


This was Davina McCall's eighteenth regular game show series, which (at the time) extended her lead as the most prolific UK game show host - and that's without even counting the various one-offs and guest spots she's done. We have an up-to-date table of the leading contenders here.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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