The A List: Adland's favourite TV programme

Tales of power and corruption, political intrigue, violence and dysfunctionality are popular among the A Listers. Funny, that. Ah ... it's a tough life: balancing the demands of a violent, murderous and frankly downright perilous day-job with the burdens of domestic harmony.

Spending your days punching and pillaging, wondering whether your bosses are plotting your bloody end. Then spending your nights dealing with your dysfunctional family. Oh yes, a job in advertising certainly has its challenges.

So it's easy to see why The Sopranos should have such resonance in the ad industry. The story of your average, everyday gang of mobsters, neck-deep in organised crime, the show explores issues of class, sexuality, criminality, gender and generational conflict ... like an average day in the office, really.

Set in New Jersey, the show has become cult viewing. The difficulties faced by Tony Soprano as he battles to resolve the conflicting demands of his real family with "the family" has won an army of millions of Sopranos devotees around the world and has won just about every award in television.

And of the UK's elite advertising community, 27 voted The Sopranos as their favourite TV programme, with devotees including Paul Bainsfair from TBWA, MindShare's Dominic Proctor and Saatchi & Saatchi's Kevin Roberts.

One final accolade: the show's also managed to raise the hackles of Italians everywhere. Before arriving in New York to march in this year's Columbus Day parade, Gianfranco Fini, the leader of Italy's right-wing National Alliance party, praised the contribution made to American history by Italians whose forebears had settled in the US, and said: "No television series can undo it."

It's not surprising, either, to see that other window on power and corruption - The West Wing - take second place in adland's favourite couch-potato viewing. A study in presidential power, manipulation and politics, it also bears some resemblance to ad industry dynamics.

And the show's sweetly idealistic perspective (a female gets promoted to chief of staff, a Latino makes the grade as a presidential candidate) makes a nice contrast to the conventions of adland. Fans include Mediaedge:cia's Rob Norman, HHCL/Red Cell's Nick Howarth and M&C Saatchi's Nick Hurrell.

The West Wing tells the stories of the members of the Bartlet administration in the White House. Aficianados say it has passed its best and the writing and plotlines are flagging.

It remains to be seen whether this year's presidential elections will dim viewer interest in a fictional one. Still, it's nice to know advertising executives have a thirst for good drama ... 24 makes it into fifth place to round out the fad for tension and simmering violence.

Just to underline the fact that this list of adland's top telly picks has rather a male bias, Match of the Day comes in at number three in the charts, with Sky Sports News in joint seventh position.

But never let it be said that adland does not have a sense of humour.

With The Simpsons, The Office and classic Fawlty Towers making the chart, it is clear that a good belly laugh is considered a fine antidote to the stresses and strains of professional life.

As for those programmes that linger in the foothills of the list, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy has quite a few fans (the Jacob household - Starcom Mediavest's Iain and SMG's Kathryn - is clearly hooked).

And as well as programmes on sartorial elegance, the industry has its devotees of house improvement shows, ranging from Grand Designs at the top-end (Saatchis' Kevin Dundas, ABC's Chris Boyd) to the rather more council-estatey House Doctor (Jane Lightning, who, as the chief executive of the broadcaster five, might be a little biased). Children's programming - for the peace and quiet it buys - is also popular among frazzled parents.

The most bizarre choices include TBWA's Jean-Marie Dru's penchant for Sex and the City ("especially the Absolut episode") and ITV's Justin Sampson, who admits to something of a foot fetish, citing Cold Feet and Six Feet Under.

Position Programme Votes

1 The Sopranos 27

2 The West Wing 26

3 Match of the Day 17

4 Have I Got News For You 14

5 24 13

6 The Simpsons 12

7= The News 11

7= Sky Sports News 11

9 The Office 5

10 Fawlty Towers 4


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