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Top 10 British Shows That NEVER Took Off

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Some ideas just don’t fly. Welcome to WatchMojoUK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Shows That Never Took Off. For this list, we’re looking at shows which were either surprisingly underrated, or they underperformed during their limited run. These productions fell well short of expectations, and were swiftly removed from our screens. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Shows That NEVER Took Off


Some ideas just don’t fly. Welcome to WatchMojoUK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Shows That Never Took Off.

For this list, we’re looking at shows which were either surprisingly underrated, or they underperformed during their limited run. These productions fell well short of expectations, and were swiftly removed from our screens.

#10: “It’s Now or Never” (2006)

A Saturday-night show where people aim to prove to their closest friends and family just how much they care for them, headed by one of the public’s favourite presenters, Philip Schofield. It should have been a recipe for success. Instead, “It’s Now or Never” was cancelled after just one episode. A second instalment was released after a five-month interval, but then no more after that. The fact that it fizzled out fast is perhaps even more surprising given that the one episode which did air featured a live marriage proposal, aided by a flash mob.

#9: “The Royal Bodyguard” (2011-12)

Sir David Jason is TV royalty, with his successes including, but not limited to, “Only Fools and Horses” and “A Touch of Frost.” But this was one place where his prestige as an actor just couldn’t carry a doomed show, derided by fans across the country. While the first episode of “The Royal Bodyguard” went out on Boxing Day to over 8 million viewers, by the end of the series just 2.8 million had stuck around for the finale. Many complained that the show was relying too much on Jason, but giving him a perpetually unfunny script to work with.

#8: “Chickens” (2013)

According to this failed period comedy, half the cast of “The Inbetweeners” equals half the viewing figures. Simon Bird and Joe Thomas ought to pull quite the audience – and both have done in their successful separate shows “Friday Night Dinner” and “Fresh Meat” – but for whatever reason “Chickens” just didn’t land with viewers. It’s a “Dad’s Army” esque story of a group of men who don’t join the British Army to fight in World War One, thus becoming social pariahs. But, the often-solid comedy writing was also plagued with historical inaccuracies, and everyone switched off sharpish.

#7: “Bring the Noise” (2015-16)

“Never Mind the Buzzcocks” ended in 2015, which left quite the vacuum for a music-themed, panel show on British tele. In swept “Bring the Noise”, presented by Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs and featuring Nicole Scherzinger, Tinie Tempah, Joel Dommett and Katherine Ryan as its weekly regulars. It looked set to take the baton from Buzzcocks, but failed on all fronts. Lacking any kind of positive viewer engagement, Sky soon axed it – despite the high calibre of its guests, stars, and flashy set pieces.

#6: “Celebrity Wrestling” (2005)

Another ITV game show stinker, this one suffered not just a poor premise and little draw, but an unfortunate scheduling conflict. Because it also had the same Saturday evening slot as the BBC’s “Doctor Who” revival in the spring of 2005 – which proved a ratings juggernaut. There was really no competition. Led by Kate Thornton and Rowdy Roddy Piper, teams of Z-list celebrities were trained to become professional wrestlers. But, the show had precious little genuine wrestling content, or genuine entertainment value. Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper running from Daleks; Or semi-famous celebs in spandex… Which would you rather?

#5: “Red or Black?” (2011-12)

Produced by Simon Cowell and presented by Ant and Dec, this was an intense, high-stakes game show in the vein of “Deal or No Deal?” or “The Million Pound Drop”. But the pair who presented it have since revealed that even they knew “after the first night” that “Red or Black?” wasn’t going to be the success ITV wanted. And, despite big changes being made for its second series, namely trying to cut its bloated budget, it was still a ratings disaster. A ratings disaster with a giant, gimmicky roulette table in the back of shot… It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.

#4: “Fame Academy” (2002-03)

Even though it did have a dedicated (but small) fanbase, the BBC’s answer to “Pop Idol” was an immense failure. Following a group of publicly-sourced, up-and-coming youngsters who have one thing in common – they want to be famous – “Fame Academy” was like a trial run for the giant talent shows of later years. Everyone on it was competing for a record deal, a luxurious flat, and a sports car. And some of them do still have careers in music today. But most viewers believed that it only got a second series because, weirdly enough, its Comic Relief spoof was much more popular.

#3: “Davina” (2006)

After becoming a household name while presenting “Big Brother” for years, it’s not exactly surprising that networks would want to capitalise on Davina McCall’s popularity by giving her a talk show all of her own. Unfortunately, despite her own experience as a presenter, and the famous guests she interviewed – including Girls Aloud – the public just weren’t tuning in to watch. Davina’s not the only big name to trip up with a self-titled BBC talk show, though… “The Michael McIntyre Chat Show” also failed to earn a second series.

#2: “Play to the Whistle” (2015-17)

Its ratings may have continually dropped since the show started, but ITV insist that sports-themed panel show “Play to the Whistle” was only axed because of the busy schedules of its host, Holly Willoughby, and two team captains, Bradley Walsh and Frank Lampard. Considering they all do have a heap of other commitments, it’s an explanation that’s not so hard to believe… But, let’s not ignore the ongoing accusations that this game show relentlessly ripped off “A League of Their Own.” ITV promised it would return with a World Cup special in 2018 but alas, that never happened. Not that anyone minded.

#1: “The Nightly Show” (2017)

Chat shows are clearly a sketchy genre: get a winning combination and you can be on air for decades, but anything less than that and you’re doomed to fail. “The Nightly Show” featured a rotating roster of hosts including, Davina McCall (again), John Bishop and David Walliams, but they weren’t enough to save it from the chopping block. Even big-name guests like John Cleese couldn’t pull in an audience of note, as the apparent attempt to replicate the American talk show style fell spectacularly flat. It died a quick death on our screens – or at least on the screens of the few people who tuned in.
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