TV turncoats: the shows that switched sides

With the news that Something for the Weekend may move to ITV, we look at series resurrected by rival broadcasters

Men Behaving Badly


Best remembered by most as a BBC sitcom that encapsulated 90s “lad” culture, Men Behaving Badly in fact started life on ITV – without Neil Morrissey.

The first series of the show starred Harry Enfield as Dermot Povey, Gary Strang’s (Martin Clunes’s) flatmate, and was broadcast pre-watershed. Yet although the programme picked up some ITV accolades, it didn’t quite click with many viewers.

After the BBC picked the show up and spiced it up with a post-watershed slot on BBC2, bringing in Morrissey as new flatmate Tony Smart, MBB flourished and went on to win best sitcom in the BBC’s history at the corporation’s 60th-anniversary celebrations in 1996.

This Is Your Life

This Is Your Life was the biographical documentary based on the 1952 American show of the same name. Originally hosted by Eamonn Andrews, it alternated several times between the BBC and ITV in its lengthy lifespan.

It was launched in 1955, and each episode featured the host surprising a special guest, before taking them through their life with the assistance of the “big red book”. Celebrity guests included the likes of Muhammad Ali, Shirley Bassey and DJ John Peel.

But when, in an attempt to win new viewers in 1993, the BBC brought back its “people” show with new host Michael Aspel, ITV issued a statement implying that it was glad to get rid of the show.

It said: “The healthier channel will be the one which generates new success rather than relying on old.”


In 2006, Sky1 claimed a major broadcasting coup after it won exclusive rights to the hit American drama, Lost, one of Channel 4’s biggest hits. The deal cost £20 million – a whopping £800,000 per episode.

Champion of critical and commercial success in both the US and UK, Lost premiered on Channel 4 in 2005 to six million viewers. The first season, which launched the careers of Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox, won a total of six Emmys.

Sky1 was outspokenly thrilled about the deal, stating: “The series has defined TV drama over the last two years and has been the envy of every network.”

The broadcasting station also outbid Channel 4 and other rival broadcasters to poach hit US drama 24 from the BBC in 2003.

Big Brother

A group of attention-seeking people are thrown together into a big house, isolated from the outside world for three months, and continuously watched by television cameras. It is unsurprising, then, that even during its lowest ratings, Big Brother was making a profit for Channel 4.

But the show was dropped after 11 years in 2011, when Channel 5 paid production company Endemol more than £100 million for rights to screen it.

Channel 4 didn’t take the change as gracefully as it could have, using an announcement before a big network premiere to reference the move.

An announcer introduced vampire blockbuster, Twilight, by saying: “Resurrecting the deceased might be what some channels like to do on summer evenings, but here on Channel 4, we prefer the undead.”


In 2007, the residents of Ramsay Street found themselves at the centre of a bidding war between the BBC, ITV and Channel 5.

The hugely popular series Neighbours, which launched the career of Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce, was on the BBC for 21 years, at its peak drawing in a combined audience of 19 million every day.

But the BBC caused a stir when it withdrew from talks to keep the show, stating: “Sad though this is, we think that we’re doing the right thing with our licence-payers’ money.”

In the biggest deal in the channel’s history, 5 won the rights to an eight-year deal worth £300 million, three times the amount the BBC was paying.

Channel 5 also poached rival Australian soap Home and Away from ITV in a £40 million deal in 2000. It began showing both soaps back to back in what came to be known as “Aussie hour”.