Saturday night’s alright-ish

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 by

BBC1′s Saturday nights are looking healthier than they have for some time.

Nice to see you ... back on Saturday nights

Nice to see you ... back on Saturday nights

That’s thanks to the imminent return of Strictly Come Dancing and the upcoming debut of Merlin .

However, what it still hasn’t been able to reconstruct is a bonafide Saturday night schedule.  Outside of those stellar shows, BBC1 is still unable to transmit two successful series one after the other.  There are rumblings that what is required is a big new entertainment format – but what should it be like?  That seems to be the big question.  Is a module show a la Noel’s House Party the answer, or is a high concept game show (surely someday, some channel will successfully resurrect Wanted) required?

What’s clear is that the well of talent shows is rapidly drying up (I predict Maestro to be the last successful iteration of this mould), but BBC1 really needs something extra on Saturday nights to complete its rehabilitation as the owner of TV’s happiest night of the week.


17 Responses to “Saturday night’s alright-ish”

  1. Steve Williams on September 3rd, 2008 1:15 pm

    Well, there’s Hole In The Wall coming up, which I reckon could be the sort of teatime frippery that would work really well after the football results – the sort of half-watching brain-switched-off whimsy that Gladiators did so well.

    In fact, I think the line-up of Hole In The Wall, Merlin, Strictly, the lottery, Casualty and MOTD is a great line-up. The only weak spot is after Casualty at 9.30, which they seem to have terrible trouble filling. They’re a bit limited because you obviously want MOTD to start at a decent hour but too often they seem to just give up and whack on The Vicar of Dibley again.

    Also, I would like Merlin to go on before Strictly, because in the last two series I’ve felt Strictly has been on too early, around 5.45, and it would be better as the centrepiece of the evening.

  2. Nick Gates on September 4th, 2008 6:33 pm

    Wipeout is likely to be quite good when it airs, although a lot of that is going to hang on who they get to host and do the commentary – they strike just the right tone in the US version, I can’t immediately think what sort of tone the BBC are going to go for.

    Hole in the Wall is likely to get quite boring quite quickly seeing as it appears to be minor variants of the same thing over and over for the best part of an hour.

  3. Patrice on September 5th, 2008 12:33 pm

    “Hole in the wall” is very much a one-trick pony, but has the potential to be one hell of a peed off pony if they get the casting right. Personally I would have got Biggins and Rustie Lee on board for laugh factor – although I’m not sure that Winton was the best choice of presenter – but I will not pre-judge as I am looking forward to this one…

    Also, would it be likely for a UK channel to pick up the “I survived a Japanese gameshow” format, especially since it’s being pimped around the world at the moment?

  4. Graham Kibble-White on September 5th, 2008 2:24 pm

    Well, Hole in the Wall is currently scheduled to start the same Saturday as Merlin – 20 September. The first guests are Andi Peters, David Myers, Sherrie Hewson and Zoe Salmon.

  5. Ian Jones on September 5th, 2008 3:43 pm

    Heaven help anyone stuck in front of a terrestrial TV set tomorrow night, though. ITV has The X Factor followed by something like six hours of King Kong. What the hell kind of Saturday night is that? The first weekend in September should be the shop window for a load of new series. Has ITV got so little on its shelves so soon into the autumn? Channel 4 is no better – not one but two more schlock films eating up the whole of its primetime schedule. What with BBC2 full of repeats, BBC1 should walk it ratings-wise. Oh wait: it’s showing the Eurovision Dance Contest. Grrr.

  6. Patrice on September 5th, 2008 3:53 pm

    Sherrie Hewson???

    The clumsiest woman in christendom?

    She could have a whole episode of “It’ll be alright on the night” devoted completely to herself.

    Officially cannot wait now…

  7. MartS on September 6th, 2008 10:19 am

    Dale Winton can not do ironic (see under Winton – Pets In Prizes post Baker,D) – which is the only way to do Hole In The Wall.

    The celeb contestant angle (and the opportunity to see Zoe Salmon get wet seems to suggest we are angling for the male 18-35 year viewing demographic here) gives it a charity spin, which I suppose is good news – But..

    12 week run is far, far too long for a joke format that tires quickly when watching the original on YouTube. A 3 x 45min run airing early evening around Christmas/New Year would have been a better way to show this.

  8. Steve Williams on September 6th, 2008 11:03 am

    It is a dull Saturday night, as Ian suggests, but it was always like this in early September, both the Beeb and ITV always used to whack on films at that point. Indeed the first sign of Autumn was always a five-hour mini-series on ITV over the weekend. Lest we forget England are also playing tonight, which might be Setanta’s biggest audience ever.

    King Kong’s such an awful film to schedule because it’s blatantly far too long, I don’t know where else they could have put it and this slot is probably about as good as it could get. Not that I care, I’m going to go and see the great Tim Vine.

  9. Rob Williams on September 6th, 2008 2:50 pm

    BBC One’s schedule seems ok, but it needs some comedy. Either Little Britain America or something like a new sketch show a la Three of a Kind. Though ITV’s line up should be New Game for a Laugh/people show, X Factor, showing of the new version of Bionic Woman, Game show and comedy/music show… Alternatively a game show with real people, no celebs please! Family Fortunes with real people!

  10. Nick Gates on September 6th, 2008 4:58 pm

    > no celebs please! Family Fortunes with real people!

    Sorry! All Star Family Fortunes series three is on the way.

  11. Graham Kibble-White on September 6th, 2008 5:34 pm

    First contestants: the Biggins family versus Michelle Collins’ clan!

  12. Chris Hughes on September 6th, 2008 6:19 pm

    Tonight’s ITV schedule is in no way worse than tomorrow’s – four hours of pro-celebrity football, and that’s it. Four hours.

    That said, I like the way they’re hopefully billing Alastair Campbell as one of the “celebrities” in the trailer, as if anyone’s going to say, “Mum, can we watch it, Alastair Campbell’s playing!”

  13. Steve Williams on September 7th, 2008 1:26 pm

    Just to put on the record that my parents watched King Kong last night, and enjoyed it, but my mum told me she thought the duration of three and a half hours was “a misprint in the Radio Times”.

    Oh, Tim Vine was really good, by the way.

  14. Rob Williams on September 20th, 2008 6:23 pm

    I’ve just seen Hole in the Wall, really I cannot decide if its the maddest idea in years or totally brilliant. Though its the best start to a Saturday night in years… Now ITV, its your turn…

  15. Nigel Fishwick on September 21st, 2008 12:23 am

    Hole in the Wall was great, albeit unchallenging, fun, but the best laughs of the night, for me at least, came for the all-new It’ll Be Alright on the Night, which featured some brilliant outtakes, most notably those featuring Central reporter, Colin Green, and the utterly brilliant piece at the charity custard pie event, with the reporter and cameraman getting pasted before ending the piece on a distinctly annoyed and Alan Partridge-esque note. To quote…

    “Right, you’ve just ruined it! We’ve lost the camera, we’ve lost the item. You’ve gone over the top…”


  16. Steve Williams on September 22nd, 2008 6:20 pm

    And the presenter of Wipeout UK is… Richard Hammond!

  17. Steve Williams on September 22nd, 2008 6:22 pm

    Oh, also, remember up there I said Merlin should go before Strictly – well, hooray for me, because that’s what it’s doing from next week.