TV Champion 2014 – shock exits and the tastiest second-round ties

After an unbelievable first round, the pundits weigh in on those shock knock-outs and this round's big bouts

Tim Glanfield, Editor


Shock Exit: Billie Piper

“What we have witnessed over the past week has been nothing short of breathtaking. The opening round in the inaugural Television Champion tournament has seen in excess of 300,000 votes cast and already garnered a number of upsets.

“The shock of the first round was undoubtedly the exit of Billie Piper, a former Doctor Who companion who usually enjoys a demigod-like status amongst users. Her departure from the tournament to Dec (of Ant and Dec) shows the importance of every vote in this most unpredictable of competitions. We said there would be no easy ties in this tournament – and this upset is proof (were it needed) that we know exactly what we are talking about at all times.”

Pick of Round 2: Stephen Fry vs Karen Gillan (Group 4)

“Genuinely too close to call. The Doctor Who fans are passionate, well organised and easily saw their woman through round one against Broadchurch’s Andrew Buchan – but this is Stephen Fry, social media pioneer, polymath and national treasure. If Fry chooses to mobilise his Twitter followers, one fears that Gillan’s time could be up. Even without intervening personally, Fry could attract votes from a much broader base than Gillan’s relatively narrow field of influence. This is what the Radio Times TV Champion tournament was designed for.”

Paul Jones, Deputy Editor

Shock exit: Russell Brand

“You’d expect Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke to perform well but it was a tough first-round tie and Russell Brand is a big scalp to claim and a big name to go out so early. Clarke should enjoy it while she can though, she’s got her work cut out in the next round against Matthew Macfadyen…”

Pick of Round 2:  Lara Pulver v Professor Brian Cox (Group 6)

“I’m very intrigued by Pulver versus Cox in this round. Some people might think Cox will walk it – he has a broader profile than Lara Pulver and with over 1.4 million Twitter followers he’d have some serious backing if he decided to rally the troops. But you should never underestimate the Sherlock fandom and I have a sneaky feeling Pulver [who plays Irene Adler in the BBC1 detective drama] will win it. I’d like to say she’ll Pulverise Cox but it will probably be closer than that… But, yeah, I think we’ll see a Lara Pulver-Graham Norton third round, which will be really tasty.”

Jonathan Holmes, writer and President of the Television Champion Executive Committee (RT-TVC-EC)

Shock Exit: Katherine Kelly

“Dennis Waterman vs John Thaw. Richard O’Brien vs Lloyd Grossman. Pinky vs Perky. Throughout the years, the Radio Times TV Champion has seen some tight competitions (or it would have if it had existed back then). But none compare to Lacey Turner vs Katherine Kelly in 2014’s first round. The soap actresses [EastEnders and Coronation Street respectively] were inseparable from the very start. Kelly kept up a poker face but competition was brutal. By the time polls closed thousands of clicks later, Turner was ahead by a single vote. One vote! A result for the history books…whenever we get around to writing them.”

Pick of Round 2: Clare Balding vs Jenna Coleman (Group 4)

“Doctor Who and Clare Balding. They are the rocks on which the BBC was built, and their meeting in the second round will shake the corporation to its foundations. One should never discount the power of Who, but with Coleman making hard work of dispatching Kenneth Brannagh in the last round and Balding’s crossover appeal, the Doctor’s current companion is looking surprisingly vulnerable.”

Ellie Walker-Arnott, writer, talking head, pundit and expert

Shock exit: Bruce Forsyth

“Now I love Davina McCall as much as the next person. Probably a little bit more. My DVD collection consists purely of her workouts. But it’s Brucie. He’s a British institution. A stalwart of showbiz since before the Second World War. I’m sure Davina would agree the king of the Strictly ballroom deserved to keep dancing into round two… Though, actually Davina now does find herself up against arguably unbeatable Doctor Who star Matt Smith. Perhaps this was a battle neither of them were destined to win?”

Pick of Round 2: Derek Jacobi v Mary Berry (Group 7)

“I fear this is a tough category for a certain demographic – we’ve got the 75-year-old star of Last Tango in Halifax going up against the Queen of Cake and everyone’s surrogate grandma: Mary Berry. For me Berry is the natural winner here. Personally I’d like to see Call the Midwife’s Miranda Hart go up against The Great British Bake Off in round three: the battle of my two favourite shows. But Zawe Ashton did put up some stiff competition last round. Those Bake Off fans need to get out of the kitchen and get voting…”

Emma Daly, writer and amateur celebrity

Shock exit: Adrian Chiles

“Adrian Chiles and Gok Wan aren’t necessarily two names you’d expect to see plumped together. But that’s the beauty of this Radio Times TV Champion tournament. You never know which stars are going to end up battling against each other for the crown. After so much screen time during this year’s World Cup, fans might simply have had enough of Chiles and that sultry ITV intro constantly singing the word Brazil. Or perhaps fans worried that, if Wan lost, he would stop telling us how we can all look good naked? Either way, Wan must now see off a triumphant Declan Donnelly in Round 2? Time to get voting.”

Pick of Round 2: Martin Freeman vs Dermot O’Leary (Group 5)

“I’ve got my eye on the Freeman vs O’Leary race in the next stage of the competition. Freeman comes with an army of Sherlock, Fargo and Hobbit fans, which will be a tough crowd to beat. But O’Leary has been a shoulder to cry on for hundreds of thousands of wannabe singers during his time as host on the X Factor. If they all hop on the Team O’Leary bandwagon he may just have a chance. And he’d probably do one of his Dermot dances if he wins… “



Did your favourite make it to Round 2? What matches are you looking forward to? Comment below, but vote first!