This week ITV launched The Nightly Show, an attempt to replicate the success of late night topical chat shows in the USA. By giving the show the 10pm slot ITV have controversially moved their flagship news bulletin back half an hour, with a consequent ratings slump.
The success of the US shows is based largely on the fact that they are satirical and a bit edgy. Sadly the most news worthy thing about The Nightly Show is that it has displaced News at Ten.
ITV have said that their new programme is”not satire”, which does beg the question as to what the point of it is? The eight week run will have a different host each week, with Davina McCall, John Bishop and the seemingly ubiquitous Mel & Sue already pencilled in. This looks to me like a line up which is safe and bland rather than dangerous and innovative.
This week the opening shows, which are being fronted by David Walliams, have been absolutely savaged by the critics, one newspaper describing the programme as awful gut wrenching rubbish. Having watched a couple of episodes, I find it difficult to disagree. Walliams seemed to me to be doing a bad impersonation of Kenneth Williams and his jokes seemed to have been stolen from a 1970s variety show. Another criticism is that the show’s guests, such as Monday night’s Martin Clunes, seem to be there simply to shamelessly plug upcoming ITV programmes.
Also this week, Unspun with Matt Forde launched on the digital channel Dave. It’s sharper, wittier and considerably funnier than The Nightly Show.
It will be interesting to see if The Nightly Show makes it to the end of the proposed eight week run. More interesting is what this all says about ITV’s commitment to news. News at Ten has recently been averaging just over one million viewers, which compares badly to the almost five million who are watching the 10pm bulletin on the BBC.
With serious documentaries and news analysis programmes now very rare on ITV, particularly at peak times, I do wonder if ITV’s obsession with ratings may see them retire from the Battle of the Bongs and leave Sky News to slog it out with the BBC.