As the BBC cries foul over Channel Four’s scheduling of the expensively purchased Great British Bake Off up against a new family cooking contest on BBC 2 (now moved to another day), how important these days is scheduling on a TV channel? After all, with digital recording, “plus one hour” channels, streaming and download, is an old-fashioned schedule really that important? I would largely argue that it is irrelevant as we gorge ourselves on “box sets” but with one very important exception, and that’s with a brand new programme.
We can follow round old favourites in the traditional schedule, but a new programme needs good exposure in a slot that is not vulnerable. A great case in point was a big mistake that ITV made earlier this year in the placing of the entertaining hotel drama The Halcyon, which they wrongly decided not to recommission (the producers are still hawking it around other outlets).
The Halcyon was perfect for the Sunday night 9.00 pm (UK time) slot, but instead ITV played it on a Monday night, where it didn’t do that badly in the ratings, considering the fact that Silent Witness was running away with things at the same time on BBC 1. In contrast, the equally enjoyable Good Karma Hospital premiered for ITV on a Sunday evening at 9.00 pm, and got decent figures, and a quick renewal.
Scheduling for new programmes therefore does matter and actually the normally astute BBC dropped their ball over their new cooking show, The Big Family Cooking Showdown, which opened to a disappointing sub-two million viewers on Tuesday night on BBC 2. Despite tons of publicity and incorrect hype that this was some kind of GBBO replacement (the real replacement comes in the New Year on BBC 1 with Claudia Winkleman and the goddess that is Mary Berry), the Beeb placed the BFCS on at the same time as regular ratings grabber, Holby City over on BBC 1. Not a good idea, and now in a bit of mischief-making, Channel Four have decided to launch their version of the GBBO a week on Tuesday at the same time as BFCS, with the BBC expressing outrage and now deciding to move BFCS to later in the week, which frankly might be a blessing in disguise for them.
Channel Four knows that they could play GBBO anywhere in the schedule and it would certainly (at least for the very first episode) do some very good business just for novelty value. I’m not sure why they are not running GBBO on the traditional Wednesday, but they are holding a strong deck of cards here as they know it will pull in the numbers. That’s not a luxury the Cooking Showdown had in a poor bit of scheduling (and to be fair, it wasn’t that good, though how would you know that if you didn’t see it?) and it’s another example where a scheduling mistake doesn’t allow the best opportunity for a show to take off.
What’s the fuss about the B-list celebs that are being declared on a daily basis for Strictly Come Dancing? I don’t know much about half of them every year, but that doesn’t change the quality of the show in the slightest. Of course we are eyeing up who might be the Ed Balls, John Sergeant, and Ann Widdecombe of the new season, and perhaps that honour might go to the witty Reverand Richard Coles. Perhaps of greater concern to SCD producers is what kind of effect will Len Goodman’s departure have on the show?
Great news for Corrie fans with the news that Alison King will be returning towards the end of the year as one of the soap’s best characters, Carla Connor. That should be good for a bit of confrontation on the old cobbles, and the rekindling of her friendship with Roy Cropper who probably will be one of the few people glad to see her back.