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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 10:46 GMT
2001's TV: Making the news
Channel 4's Brass Eye brewed up a storm, ITV1's Survivor flopped, TV presenter Graham Norton won almost every award going and BBC One ran away with the ratings.

The BBC's William Gallagher reviews the year's TV.

It has been a year of good shows on the box and dramatic departures.

ITV1 took a bold step to shake up Saturday nights by introducing The Premiership, its football highlights programme, in the early evening slot that fans had always begged the BBC to put Match of the Day in.

Des Lynam
Des had to stay up late again
It was the first major change to Saturday nights for at least a decade. No one benefited when it failed and Blind Date returned.

The Premiership's problem was the timing did not work. And 2001 was full of examples of good and bad timing.

In December, Cold Feet's fortunes changed when the show before it, flop quiz Shafted, was replaced by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?


Brass Eye seemed to go right over people's heads - perhaps if it were funnier it would have worked

Drama of the year was arguably The West Wing. It was on Sky 1 in 2000, but a slot on Channel 4, then E4 in 2001 that made it a hit.

I love... nostalgia

Throughout 2001 we also had BBC Two's now interminable I Love... series.

The original I Love the 70s in 2000 was fun but this year we got to love the 80s, 90s, Kung Fu, Blue Peter, Monty Python, and so on.

If that were not enough, Channel 4 ran many Top 10 programmes before running more, as Top 10 TV, and the high-profile 100 Greatest series.

Graham Norton
Coming soon: 100 Greatest Graham Norton moments?
In this genre, BBC Two's very good history of pop music, Walk On By, deserves a mention, while Channel 5 got in on the act with The Greatest TV Cops Ever.

Some favourite shows disappeared in 2001.

Irish series Ballykissangel came back in 2001 for a fruitless last stab at keeping the show going after Tony Doyle's untimely death.

Similarly, the Larry Sanders clone Bob Martin came back for a second series only to somehow dissipate and finish without being noticed.

Pilot lights


Richard and Judy are looking to regain the success of This Morning and, oddly enough, so is This Morning

Unfortunately, McCready and Daughter will definitely not come back after its short run failed to win high enough ratings.

Surprisingly, its 2000 pilot did well. This could be a sign that TV companies should not rely so much on one-offs.

In 2001 we got Judge John Deed in a one-off that was just plainly meant to be a pilot for a new series and we've now got the series.

Celebrity Big Brother
Jack Dee won Celebrity Big Brother
Ricky Tomlinson starred in a flimsy Nice Guy Eddie which struggled to find enough story for its one-off episode but is to be a series next year.

And the Inspector Lynley Mysteries tale in March is to get a longer run in 2002 as well.

John Cleese's The Human Face documentary series turned out to be an agonisingly patronising flop - despite his attack on the quality of British TV.

Pseudo-roving reporter show People Like Us came back to BBC Two in May.

Judge John Dear
Judge John Deed was a BBC One hit
That style of comedy is flourishing. Rob Brydon's excellent 10-minute monologues Marion & Geoff won a spin-off in A Small Summer Party in September, while Ricky Gervais built on his cult status with The Office on BBC Two.

Headlines

TV's most famous daytime couple Richard and Judy left This Morning in July after 13 years to go to Channel 4 for a new talk show.

They are now trying to reclaim the success they had with This Morning - oddly enough, so is This Morning.

Before Ant and Dec left SM:TV Live, it continued to dominate Saturday mornings and see off the BBC's efforts, whether from Live & Kicking or its replacement, The Saturday Show.

The Brass Eye paedophile special made headlines for the number of complaints filed about it.

The Kumars
The Kumars at No 42 was a critical hit
The fact that the show was about the media's coverage of paedophilia seemed to go over people's heads. Perhaps if it had been more consistently funny it would have worked.

ITV's revival of News At Ten put it up against the BBC's bulletin, to howls of outrage from politicians. But the broadcasters relished the competition, and the viewers didn't seem to worry too much.

Reality returns

Reality TV dominated another summer.

There's no way to know what would have made Survivor work for ITV. But the series is coming back.

So is Big Brother, though it may never reach the heights of its celebrity edition.

Johnny Vaughan moved to the BBC, co-writing and starring in the sitcom 'Orrible. It was hardly a runaway success, but kept its end up throughout most of its run.

But ratings are not a barometer of quality. Comedy chat show The Kumars at No 42 was superb, but suffered from a whole evening of low-rating shows.

Armadillo
Insurance drama Armadillo was a BBC success
Behind the scenes issues aside, ITV1 also brought us some of the most talked about programmes of the year with My Beautiful Son, Night & Day, Pop Idol and Soapstars.

Channel 4 brought us tremendous drama with Swallow while the BBC gave us Armadillo, Green-Eyed Monster and When I was 12.

And to cap 12 months which showed it was on a 20-year ratings high, BBC One's lavish Walking with Beasts aimed to repeat the runaway success of Walking with Dinosaurs.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Premiership moved to later slot
26 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Richard and Judy talk teatime
08 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Fern brightens This Morning figures
06 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Watchdog orders Brass Eye apology
03 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Ant and Dec finish on high
24 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Long haul for Saturday Show
16 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Ten O'Clock News tension
19 Feb 01 | Entertainment
First month laurels to ITV
26 Jul 01 | Reviews
'Gripping' Survivor had it all
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Dee big winner of Big Brother
29 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Big Brother winner eyes up TV offers
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