The armchair critics return for a new series of Gogglebox

Friday:Gogglebox; (Channel 4, 9pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 5:00 pm
Pete & Sophie
Pete & Sophie

We may like the idea of splashing the cash, but sometimes, less can be more.

Take Gogglebox, for instance.

Described as a cross between Harry Hill’s TV Burp and The Royle Family by one of its creators, Tania Alexander, it must be one of the least expensive shows to make, and yet it continues to be a huge ratings-winner for Channel 4 – which is why new runs of it pop up so regularly.

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The broadcaster doesn’t need to pay for studio space or expensive sets because it’s all filmed in the armchair critics’ own homes, a big camera crew isn’t necessary and there are no scriptwriters.

All that’s needed are a few amusing real-life characters with something to say about what they’ve been watching.

Luckily, they seem to have been relatively easy to find since the show began airing in 2013. Some of its stars have proved to be TV naturals who have gone on to forge careers on other programmes, most notably the Rev Kate Bottley and Scarlett Moffatt.

However, last year, the show’s makers were criticised publicly for not featuring a Scottish family. Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross told Channel 4 bosses there had not been anybody from north of the border since 2016.

He even came up with a solution: “I’m a big fan of Gogglebox and my wife and I watch it every week. We could be part of it.”

During a meeting at Westminster, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon told the Scottish Affairs Committee: “We do get complaints about the lack of representation on Gogglebox, which is one of our biggest shows,” describing it as a “continued pressure.”

She later wrote to MPs to reveal that the broadcaster had set up a casting team dedicated to finding a suitable Scottish family to appear on the show.

“Channel 4 has impressive credentials for supporting independent producers and offering opportunities for young people wishing to explore the sector,” remarked Pete Wishart, chairman of the committee, as he welcomed the announcement. “We are bursting at the seams with talent in Scotland, and I am pleased to hear Channel 4’s efforts to harness this potential.

“A theme which came up in our evidence session was the lack of a Scottish family on Gogglebox. It is clear some have approached the channel with similar concern, often offering themselves as an option. I am therefore pleased to see a dedicated team tasked with this and look forward to seeing the successful family on our screens in the new series.”

That new series – the 19th in total – is set to begin this week, but will Channel 4 have been as good as their word?

If they haven’t, there’ll no doubt be hell to pay…

We’re not expecting many other changes to the show – after all, the format is a surefire hit, so there’s no need to alter anything.

As a result, we can expect more bonkers comments, as well as a few words of wisdom, from the regulars as they look back at the week’s biggest TV moments.

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