How accurate are TV countdown shows? And why did we all get angry at Channel 5 over packets of crisps? Scott Bryan investigates...
From chocolate bars to biscuits to royals, we analyse Channel 5's countdown programmes - and, of course, rank them...
It’s been a week since we all collectively lost it over this Channel 5 meme.
That’s right, of all of the things to be angry at right now, it was a meme from a Channel 5 Twitter account revealing the results of a two hour countdown of Britain’s Favourite Crisps, that tipped us over the edge.
Why? There’s no Discos, Skips or Space Rangers. The winner? Pringles, the crisp equivalent of dust. And look at the meme. LOOK AT IT. Not only are your choices at the bottom, the words “don’t come anywhere near me with these” are alongside them, even though they made the Top 20.
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Countdown shows have always been a successful television format. Why? They’re cheap. The contributors are paid something like £400 to talk about crisps (and who would say no to being paid £400 to talk about crisps?). And you watch at home because you’re drunk or because, in a weird way, it generates a nostalgia hole from the topic being discussed, which in turn results in you talking all over the celebrities who were paid something like £400 to talk about crisps.
Next, Channel 5 are ranking Britain’s favourite takeaways (no, really). There’s speculation that they are soon going to be ranking cleaning products. But after the crisp outrage, it makes me wonder. Are they always this inaccurate? Are they literally out to troll us?
So, I decided to re-watch every recent Channel 5 countdown show to work it all out (in case you're wondering, the shows have recently either been about snacks or the Royal Family for some reason).
FIRST: BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE
I’ve noticed that these shows contain Olympic levels of padding. How long are these shows? Two hours. How long did they take to talk about Mars Bars? 10 minutes. “I’m speechless” said one of the celebrities when Toblerone came 18th, followed by a discussion on why they are available in bigger sizes at airports (spoiler: no explanation was ever given).
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We then heard from one contributor that she buys a Bounty when she’s going on holiday because it feels like a holiday. Then, “it’s there to stay” Joe Swash said about Wispa. “I think it’s stronger than it’s ever been.”
Then later, during a discussion about how Bounty is now available in a “trio” size (three bars in one) rather than a conventional duo, a talking head asked the question: ‘Where will this end?”
“WHEN WILL THIS SHOW END?” I shouted back. “WHEN?”
I then decided to recreate Channel 5’s meme, including their sassy comment at the bottom, so we can see whether there’s any obvious errors and troll them at their own game:
THE TOP TWENTY: 20. Mars 19. Galaxy Caramel 18. Toblerone 17. Bournville 16. Green & Blacks 15. Crunchie. 14. Thorntons. 13. Twix. 12. Boost 11. Lindt 10. Wispa. 9. Cadbury Caramel 8. Maltesers 7. Bounty 6. Snickers 5. Ferrero Rocher 4. Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut 3. Galaxy 2. Aero 1. Dairy Milk
REACTION: WHO BUYS FERRERO ROCHER? I only have once. And that time wasn’t for me, it was for my parents at Dover on a French Exchange, because I didn’t get them a present in France and I assumed all parents just ate Ferrero Rocher to pass the time.
This only a few years after I was given £20 by my Dad to purchase a Christmas present for other members of my family and I bought my Mum a bottle of Head & Shoulders costing 50p. I was 8. She has forgiven me, but it’s one of those incidents that I’ll be reminded about by my family until I am 80.
2. BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE BISCUITS
They counted down ten biscuits in two hours, the equivalent of one biscuit every 12 minutes. There was even an extensive analysis of what biscuit can be dunked the most times before falling apart. Twice. Towards the end of the show I was anxious that I was falling apart.
Oh, you want to know what biscuit is the best dunker?
Fine. Have it your way. Fig Rolls came first, followed by Pink Wafer, followed by Wagon Wheels. All horrible biscuits. Buy some. Buy ten. Then dunk them. See if I care.
THE TOP TWENTY: 20. Chunky Cookie 19. Hob Nob 18. Chocolate Finger 17. Malted Milk 16. Chocolate Chip Cookie. 15. Fig Roll 14. Rich Tea 13. Double Chocolate Chip 12. Caramel Wafer 11. Kit Kat 10. Wagon Wheel 9. Plain Digestive 8. Ginger Nut 7. Jaffa Cake 6. Bourbon 5. Shortbread 4. Custard Creme 3. Jammie Dodger 2. Chocolate Hobnob 1. Chocolate Digestive
MY REACTION: Hobnobs on the bottom bar, but Chocolate Hobnobs third? Who hurt you? Jaffa Cakes are technically cakes, but they give them seventh on a biscuit show? SURE. Congratulations for making a biscuit show that makes Britain’s Favourite Chocolate seem like engaging and classy television, which is quite an achievement I assure you.
3. BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE SWEETS
If you want to see Phil Tufnell talking about why he prefers the name Opal Fruits rather than Starburst, you’ve come to the right place. This is also the place to see someone fail at breaking the World Record for eating the most marshmallows in one minute. There’s then a dramatic revelation that wine gums don’t contain wine. You can tell I’m really enjoying this.
THE TOP TWENTY: 20. Rhubarb & Custard 19. Liquorice 18. Black Jack 17. Sherbert Lemons 16. Starburst 15. Maoam 14. Jelly Belly 13. Candy Floss 12. Bumper Bag 11. Werther’s Originals 10. Bonbons 9. 8. Haribo Tangfastics 7. Skittles 6. Liquorice Allsorts 5. Wine Gums 4. Jelly Babies 3. Fudge 2. Eclairs 1. Haribo
MY REACTION: A total mess. Werther’s Original better than Starburst and Maoam? What the hell. Where are Fruit Gums? I'll have you know that a bumper bag contains more than six totally different type of sweets, including Love Hearts, Drumstick and Refreshers. And out of all of the ones that could have won, the blandest flavour of Haribo comes first. Tangfastics deserve more.
4. BRITAIN’S FAVOURITE ROYAL
C’mon. Number one is The Queen. It’s The Queen. Why are we wasting your time? Also, why do Royal Correspondents sound posher than the rest of us? What exactly is an ‘Etiquette Expert’? There’s even an entire segment on what you do when you meet a Royal, with rules that I pay a little bit more attention to than I should, in the exceptionally unlikely event that I bump into one between here and Tesco Metro later on.
THE TOP TEN: 10. Zara Tindall 9. Prince George 8. Meghan, Duchess of Cambridge 7. Princess Anne 6. Prince Charles 5. Prince Philip 4 Prince William. 3. Prince William 2. Prince Harry 1. The Queen
REACTION: I’m not going to make one. I’m British.
And now, rather inevitably… I have ranked the Channel 5 documentaries.
5. Britain’s Favourite Crisps 4. Britain’s Favourite Chocolate 3. Britain’s Favourite Sweets 2. Britain’s Favourite Biscuits 1. Britain’s Favourite Royal
At first, I thought that Channel 5 had gotten it rather wrong, but after making these rather hideous graphics I had a long think about the top choices in all of these shows.
In case you have forgotten, here’s what made the top:
Pringles, Dairy Milk, Chocolate Digestives, Haribo.
Oh and The Queen.
All of these things reflect Britain rather well. Don’t you think?
To be honest, maybe Channel 5 is onto something.
Britain’s Favourite Takeaway is on Channel 5 on Friday 5th April at 9pm