THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Top UK TV programmes

1. Eastenders. BBC1, Thursday 5 April. TVR: 36.4.

The one where someone shot someone else. Or where someone was discovered

by somebody to have been having an affair with somebody else.

Or no - someone's relative, probably a son, possibly with a reputation

as something of a rogue, returned to Walford. Leave it! He's not worth

it! Victorian melodrama has never been more popular.

2. Coronation Street. ITV1, Monday 1 January. TVR: 29.5.

The problem with Coronation Street - and the reason it never makes

number one in lists such as this - is that not enough people in it die

horribly or stupidly or regularly enough. That, and the fact that it's

so hard to shout suitably threateningly in a fey Rochdale accent. Try

it. No, go on. Leave it, I say leave it, Ashley! He's not worth it!

3. Touch Of Frost. ITV1, Sunday 14 January. TVR: 26.8.

Just how does David Jason do it? He's been a ratings winner for decades,

now - all that tutting and rolling of those bulging yet puppyish eyes of

his. We can't get enough of it. And those car coats. Who said that beige

couldn't be stylish? (Why is it, by the way, that elderly gentlemen go

for such non-descript light colours or pukey pastels? What's that


4. Heartbeat. ITV1, Sunday 21 January. TVR: 25.2.

The pulse is growing fainter but it still counts as a heartbeat.

No-nonsense coppering show set in an era when no-nonsense coppering was

... well, just that. Crime, if you could even call it that, was set to

rights with a good clip round the ear. Apart from that Myra Hindley

woman. And Ian Brady, obviously. Not that they're in the show. Yet.

5. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. ITV1, Monday 1 January. TVR:


Stupidity versus greed, refereed by that dreadfully ingratiating chap,

Chris Tarrant. Rather disappointingly, stupidity always seems to win.

Except when they have toffs on. Could learn much from the US version


6. Emmerdale. ITV1, Wednesday 3 January. TVR: 22.6.

Britain's upland rural communities seethe with just as much passion and

intrigue and fear and loathing as the decayed, post-industrial inner

city badlands. There's BSE for a start. Ringworm. Scrapie. Foot and

mouth. And that's just the bar staff at the Woolpack. Be careful out


7. Popstars. ITV1, Saturday 3 February. TVR: 22.5.

To call this a talent show would flirt with a breach of the Trades

Descriptions Act (if such a thing still exists). And yet, strangely, we

all watched the programme and we all went out and bought the single.

Maybe we were all drunk at the time or something.

8. Match Of The Day Live. BBC1, Wednesday 5 September. TVR: 21.1.

Mmm. Football, isn't it? It's one of life's great mysteries why we seem

to like our international football on the BBC. OK, the BBC doesn't

shoehorn two mammoth ad breaks into that half-time intermission thing -

but half time is surely for putting the kettle on and going for a wee,

isn't it? And the other contenders - Sky and ITV, basically - don't have

50s-style commentators droning on about these strange foreign types on

the opposing team - bags of flair, if a touch excitable but no relish

for the manly physical challenge that's such a big part of the

traditional English game. On the other hand, we were good at the game

when our football was broadcast in black and white. Oh my word! How

typically Brazilian! Mmmm? Mottie, isn't it?

9. Comic Relief 2001. BBC1, Friday 16 March. TVR: 20.9.

Curmudgeons, niggards and mean spirits wouldn't be seen dead watching

this sort of thing. Which still leaves a fifth of the viewing public

going all moist-eyed as they cheerfully give up their hard-earned


10. The Weakest Link. BBC1, Thursday 1 March. TVR: 20.7.

S&M show, parading as a quiz show, featuring a whiskery old trout.

Absolutely lethal. Don't even think about it.


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