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EDITIONS
 Friday, 27 December, 2002, 09:18 GMT
The small screen in 2002

Reality TV dominated the tabloids and ITV digital went bust but 2002 also brought us 24, Six Feet Under, Tipping the Velvet, the Great Britons debate and... primetime Bargain Hunt.

As soon as we were out of Christmas 2001 the TV brought us what can only be described as an eclectic mix.

New BBC chat show Johnny Vaughan Tonight started off as a clone of America's David Letterman on BBC One and BBC Choice.

A new series of Sex In The City continued to be a hit on Channel 4 but Big Train, the daft sketch show on BBC Two, has been almost forgotten.

Johnny Vaughan
Johnny Vaughan's show needed urgent surgery
ITV1's Pop Idol reached its big final in February after what seemed like six months.

The BBC launched an awful lot of TV and radio channels in 2002 and in February the big news was CBBC and Cbeebies, while March brought BBC Four - a conscious attempt to mimic BBC Radio 4, which almost killed off digital satellite channel Artsworld.

Ted and Alice on BBC One was a peculiar mix of romance and science fiction that escaped most but made fans of many.

Original cast

Initially much more successful, though it did tail off, was ITV1's The Forsyte Saga.

Channel 5 grabbed all the ex-Top Gear staff for Fifth Gear while the BBC finally brought us The Falklands Play, shown 15 years after it was first commissioned.

Reality TV continued with The Edwardian Country House on Channel 4.

Channel 4 also gave us the tremendous The Book Group comedy and the series that reassembled the original cast of Auf Wiedersehen Pet was a hit for BBC One.

Graham Norton
More Graham Norton worked for Channel 4
April was also the month that Rise started on Channel 4 - and flopped, although access to the Big Brother 3 contestants from May gave it a short-lived boost.

ITV Digital viewers were not so happy that month as their screens went blank.

Channel 4 gambled that V Graham Norton could work five nights a week - and it did. Frasier ran its so-so reunion of the Cheers cast on the same channel while BBC One measured our IQ in Test the Nation.

Cult drama

Ant and Dec starred in A Tribute To The Likely Lads on ITV1 but only managed to mimic the original.

Hot real time US thriller 24 continued to stop our hearts on BBC Two.

All through the summer The West Wing continued to be tremendous and was joined on Channel 4 by Six Feet Under, the instant-hit cult US drama.

The Office
The Office gained millions of fans
In July, James Bolam was chilling in ITV1's Shipman, but the drama itself was surprisingly limp.

Comedian Peter Kay's second run of Phoenix Nights on Channel 4 was a hit in August. BBC One had the luck to have finished Ella and the Mothers - about IVF - as news of an IVF mix-up broke.

Daytime hit Bargain Hunt moved to prime-time on BBC One but the move went to its head and the result was surprisingly dire.

Sombre September

ITV1's I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here had an unwieldy title but, although modelled on the Survivor reality TV format, at least did not have the word "survivor" in it. Nobody expected a celebrity version to do well, but it did.

Documentaries on all channels marked the anniversary of the World Trade Centre destruction throughout a sombre September.

The BBC's revamped The Saturday Show was relaunched yet again but apart from new presenters and a Saturday Top of the Pops, it looked the same. Channel 5 became Five.

Partly to escape watching ITV1's Popstars: The Rivals, 12 people managed to get into BBC One's Fame Academy and for a while in October it looked like only their families were watching the show.

Keeley Hawes and Rachael Stirling
Tipping The Velvet caused a stir
Michael Palin darted around the Sahara very quickly for the BBC, while the audience for Fame Academy grew very slowly.

Ratings for The Office boomed for its second run on BBC Two and nosedived for Mr Right on ITV1, both entirely on merit.

Critical hit

BBC Two protested that Tipping the Velvet was not lewd but more people cared about its Great Britons poll - and Freeview, the replacement for ITV Digital, started at the end of the month.

Months after it appeared here on MTV, The Osbournes became a hit on Channel 4 in November.

But a much greater hit for the channel was Jamie's Kitchen, while we also saw Dead Ringers become a TV series, The Life of Mammals and Celebrity Big Brother.

BBC and ITV pulled back from direct competition and gave us Daniel Deronda and Dr Zhivago on different nights.

Alan Partridge
Less funny: Alan Patridge returned
Almost no-one watched BBC One's The Project about New Labour, but it was good. Amazingly, BBC Two's I'm Alan Partridge was not.

Fame Academy finally became a hit in December, if not in ratings then at least critically, as showdowns saw some great characters like Ainslie and Malachi depart.

More quietly, C4 began music show Born Sloppy and admitted Rise needed surgery as it dropped presenters.

BBC Two's Wit ended the year with a marvellous performance by Emma Thompson as a cancer victim.


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See also:

24 Dec 02 | Entertainment
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