The UK's game shows ranked

Game shows are a staple of much of our television consumption. How do they rank against each other?

Countdown's Susie Dent (photo: Rachel Joseph/ Channel 4)
Countdown's Susie Dent (photo: Rachel Joseph/ Channel 4)

For many a household they are immovable – firmly chiselled into the domestic routine.

And back in the day, when ‘streaming’ was just an educational term and smart TV was but a distant vision, you could set your clock by them.

The game show seems to occupy a special place in the viewing habits of the British public.

Parents who have long lamented their offspring’s entertainment choices can quickly morph into something resembling Darth Vader denied their regular fix of ‘Countdown’.

Ever tried wrestling the remote off Granny when her favourite game show host is holding court on screen? Do so at your peril.

Whether you’re carried along on an irresistible wave of ‘I could do better’ or drawn in by the sense of kinship engendered by these programmes, there is no denying their appeal.

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The UK’s most popular game show gets almost one million searches each year, according to new research.

Analysing the average number of yearly Google searches for more than 60 game shows on UK television, the study, commissioned by gaming experts Mahjong Challenge, revealed the top 10.

And the winner is……

Sitting in pole position – it’s not much of a conundrum – is ‘Countdown’ with more than 996,000 annual searches.

The words and numbers quiz challenge was the first programme to be aired on Channel Four back in 1982, and some four decades later is leading the pack in UK Google searches.

ITV’s ‘The Chase’, presented by Bradley Walsh, ranks next with 840,000 searches per year – twice the average of the top ten game shows.

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The show sees contestants battle against a professional quizzer in an effort to win a cash prize, with some walking away with as much as £75,000.

And in third place? Is that your final answer? That’s right, it's the Rolls-Royce of the genre: ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ with 456,000 annual searches. Originally hosted by Chris Tarrant and later by Jeremy Clarkson, the show first aired in the UK in 1998.

Since then it has been screened in various guises in more than 120 countries in excess of 80 languages, making it one of the most successful game shows on television.

“Game shows have been a staple in many homes across the UK since the 1950s and some of the most successful game shows on TV originated here in Britain,” said a spokesperson for Mahjong Challenge (mahjong-challenge.com).

"It will be interesting to see how the popularity changes over the coming years though, since 75 percent of ‘Countdown’ viewers are in the 55 plus age range, whereas ‘The Chase’ has a wider target audience.

“Game shows face more competition than ever before to capture the attention of younger audiences, since they are used to having access to endless entertainment at the touch of a button through services such as Netflix and Prime Video.”

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With 360,000 searches per year, ‘Catchphrase’ occupies fourth position in the table.

The show first aired in 1986 and is currently presented by Steven Mulhern. Contestants try to guess the correct catchphrase with the help of a photo or animation.

Following in fifth place is ITV’s quiz programme ‘Tenable’ hosted by Warwick Davis, where contestants try to find the top ten answers in a given category.

Mastermind

And no top ten would be complete without the BBC’s ‘Mastermind’, with its hallmark imposing black chair and ominous theme tune – the aptly named ‘Approaching Menace.’

Probably seen as the most intellectual British quiz show, the classic celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with question master Clive Myrie at its helm.

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The show’s creator, Bill Wright, a former RAF gunner, drew on his experience as a prisoner of war in Germany in the Second World War to shape the programme.

His interrogators repeatedly asked him three questions – name, rank and number – which inspired the idea of asking contenders their name, occupation and specialist subject.

First aired on BBC One in 1972 and hosted by former journalist Magnus Magnusson, Mastermind has become something of a national institution complete with its famous catchphrase: “I’ve started so I’ll finish.”

UK game shows ranked

Rank UK Game Show Monthly Search Volume Yearly Search Volume

1 Countdown 83,000 996,000

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2 The Chase 70,000 840,000

3 Who Wants to Be 38,000 456,000

a Millionaire

4 Catchphrase 30,000 360,000

5 Tenable 28,000 336,000

6 Mastermind 26,000 312,000

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7 Blankety Blank 25,000 300,000

8 Tipping Point 22,000 264,000

9 Crystal Maze 21,000 252,000

10 Question of Sport 21,000 252,000