Saturday Night Takeaway returned with a bang this weekend and fans lapped up Ant and Dec’s return.
The kings of the shiny floor format returned on Saturday 22nd February for an hour and a half of fun, frolics, and genuine tears.
Within one show, they gave a very deserving couple a house, took part in an axe-throwing competition and stripped off to their stripy pants in a bid to cover up the scantily-clad Pussycat Dolls.
And in brilliant news for the Geordie duo, they bagged their best viewer ratings since 2005, with an average audience of 7.3 million, peaking at 8.4 million. They got a share of 39.6 per cent, making it the most-watched programme all day across all channels.
Impressive, yes? But it’s perhaps more of a feat considering how the shiny floor format has been slowly dying.
Just this year alone, Take Me Out and Through the Keyhole were cancelled on ITV, but it hasn’t been entirely bad news for the format.
The Masked Singer became an unexpected hit for the broadcaster, bagging millions of viewers with its bizarre concept and wacky costumes, proving you can think outside the box for a reality/talent show.
What’s more, Ant and Dec’s return has come at a good time for the channel, who have capitalised on that Saturday 7pm slot, and consolidated viewers to ITV.
But what about the BBC? At the same time as Saturday Night Takeaway, BBC One aired The Greatest Dancer, which scored 2.4 million viewers – not bad for the channel, or the show, which has struggled in the past, but by nor ways matching the dizzy heights of 7.3 million.
What can they learn from ITV’s success? Well, take risks. The Greatest Dancer didn’t entirely work in season one, so why continue with it again? Different shows like The Masked Singer prove audiences want to be shocked. A simple talent show won’t cut it.
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Sure, the BBC has Strictly Come Dancing, which of course is the biggest show on TV, but in terms of new formats, nothing seems to land. They lost The Voice to ITV, which continues to garner strong viewing figures, and while Michael McIntyre’s Big Show performs well, it’s hardly pulling in Takeaway figures.
And that’s where the charm of Saturday Night Takeaway comes into play. We know we’re in safe hands with Ant and Dec, but also, they have the ability to create fresh and exciting content. With new mysteries every season – this year being aliens giving people the “squits” – exciting challenges, and the possibility to really do anything during the End of the Show Show, the sky’s the limit for the Geordie pair.
Perhaps Ant and Dec are just untouchable, but I just can’t wait for Saturday to see what they bring!
Saturday Night Takeaway continues on ITV at 7pm on Sunday