12 TV picks: in it to win it

It’s time to put on your game face because the theme of these 12 TV picks is ‘In It To Win It’.

These dozen TV shows celebrate the competitive spirit in all its many forms, from the life affirming to the life changing, from the deadly serious to the entirely light hearted.

Every one’s a winner.

The 1% Club - ITV

It’s a sign of the success of ITV’s new Saturday night quiz show The 1% Club that it has already been commissioned for a second series before the first one has finished.

Adding yet another string to his comedy bow, the fabulous Lee Mack is our master of ceremonies as 100 contestants are whittled down with a series of increasingly difficult logic and common sense questions.

It builds to a final round in which survivors face a £100,000 question that only one percent of the population would get right. It’s not just about the destination but the journey, and with Lee Mack’s razor-sharp wit, we are in very capable hands.

What they say: ‘New quiz shows succeed or fail on the strength of two elements: format and presenter. This one scores high in both areas.’ Radio Times

SAS: Who Dares Wins - Channel 4

There are reality shows and there are reality shows, and then there’s Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, surely the most grueling reality show of them all.

Former US marine Rudy Reyes took over from Ant Middleton as chief instructor for this, the seventh series of the Channel 4 show which comes to a climax on Sunday 15 May.

And what a journey it’s been for the contestants as they are put through their exhausting paces in a specially condensed SAS selection process in the searing Jordan desert heat. Who dares take part?

What they say: ‘Channel 4’s rough and tumble reality show is an emotional rollercoaster well worth watching.’ Daily Telegraph

Rob & Romesh vs - Sky Max

The comedians and best mates are back for a fourth series of the show in which they take on unlikely and invariably incredibly difficult challenges.

After the first two episodes saw Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan try their hand at being a Strongman and attempt to break into the world of West End musicals, this week they’re trying to open a restaurant. Well, sort of.

The two-part Rob & Romesh vs Restaurants sees the pair attempt various culinary and food-based tasks, culminating next week on 19 May with a visit from restaurant critic Grace Dent on their opening night.

What they say: ‘A laugh riot.’ Radio Times

Hypothetical - Dave

There is nothing hypothetical about the fun to be had from James Acaster and Josh Widdecombe’s comedy panel show, which is back for a fourth series on Dave next week on 18 May.

Richard Ayoade, Guz Khan, Maisie Adam and Chloe Petts are the four-strong line-up for the opening episode, challenged to come up with answers for a series of ridiculous hypothetical situations.

But if you can’t wait that long then the series three box set of Hypothetical is now available on demand.

What they say: ‘The ultimate comfort TV [and] one of the nicest shows I have seen for some time. Extremely funny.’ The Guardian

The Games - ITV

ITV’s new sporting reality show The Games sees a dozen celebrities go head to head in a series of thrilling live challenges airing every night this week.

Love Island’s Wes Nelson, newsreader Lucrezia Millarini and former Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton are among the six men and six women battling it out in the athletics arena, swimming pool, gymnasium and velodrome. 

Holly Willoughby and Freddie Flintoff host with expert analysis from Alex Scott and Chris Kamara in the return of the format which first aired on Channel 4 between 2003 and 2006 (remember the Bobby Davro belly flop? We do).

What they say: ‘A mini-Olympics for celebrities.’ Radio Times

Richard Hammond’s Crazy Contraptions - Channel 4

Richard Hammond makes his Channel 4 debut in the show in which two teams of eggheads are challenged to come up with ingenious chain reaction solutions to fiendishly difficult and totally off the wall challenges.

And as its title would suggest, the crazier the contraption the better, using everyday objects in TV’s ‘most leftfield engineering show’.

Pop science nerd Hammond is in his element, with challenges including boiling your kitchen kettle from the bathroom and a machine that allows Hammond to feed his dog without leaving his desk.

What they say: ‘An enjoyable new vehicle for Richard Hammond … your genial, slightly bewildered host. A family friendly cavalcade of harmless nonsense.’ Radio Times

Never Mind The Buzzcocks - Sky Max

The music panel show will return for a second series to Sky Max after its triumphant return to our screens last year.

Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ new incarnation is chaired by Greg Davies alongside team captains Daisy May Cooper and Noel Fielding and regular panellist Jamali Maddix.

Retaining all the winning elements of the original while creating a show very much their own, the show will return later this year with all eight episodes of last year’s run available on-demand.

What they say: ‘Suitably riotous.’ The Times

Britain’s Got Talent - ITV

It’s now 15 years since the first series of Britain’s Got Talent which was won by - bonus point anyone? - Paul Potts.

But while hundreds of contestants - and more than a few judges - have come and gone in that time, the format’s winning recipe, like the grins on Ant and Dec’s faces, remains the same.

And after a Covid enforced gap year, BGT’s return this year feels extra special, all under the auspice of everyone’s favourite pantomime villain, Simon Cowell.

What they say: ‘Hang out the bunting and give three cheers, Britain’s Got Talent is back … For family entertainment on a Saturday night, BGT remains a winner.’ Radio Times

The Great House Giveaway - Channel 4

The property renovation show with a twist, The Great House Giveaway sees two complete strangers given the keys to a cheap house bought at auction and tasked with doing it up to make maximum profit.

The show has won a hat-trick of daytime awards - BAFTA, Broadcast and Royal Television Society - and is just back for a third series on Channel 4.

Presenters Simon O’Brien and Tayo Oguntonade are on hand to offer their expert guidance to contestants who have six months to make it a property to be proud of in the hope of making enough money to buy their own home.

What they say: ‘Two strangers who have never owned their own home are paired up and bought a house at auction … No ordinary property show.’ Manchester Evening News

The Island - Dave

Dave’s latest comedy panel show sees four comedians stranded on a desert island after their cruise ship runs aground.

Not literally - that would be a very different type of show - as host Tom Allen challenges each of the contestants to conjure up their own dream island in the hope of persuading the highest number of passengers to come on board.

Sara Pascoe, Johnny Vegas, Ninia Benjamin and Ahir Shah were the four comedians who set sail on the show’s maiden voyage, which comes to an end this week. It’s been quite the trip.

What they say: ‘In need of some light-hearted escapism? The Island could just be the ticket.’ The Herald

Eggheads - Channel 5

Eggheads is now two series into its new home since it changed channels from BBC2 to Channel 5.

And under the expert guidance of presenter Jeremy Vine, now a familiar Channel 5 face with his eponymous morning talk show, the long-running teatime quiz already feels very much part of its new surroundings.

Dubbed the toughest quiz on TV, each week a new band of contestants attempts to beat a team of professional quizzers at their own game in a bid to win a rolling, ever expanding jackpot (that is, until the Eggheads finally crack).

What they say: ‘The quiz-lovers’ quiz show settles nicely into its new home.’ Daily Telegraph

Taskmaster - Channel 4

There’s only one thing better than Greg Davies’ withering dismissal of a contestant’s hapless attempt to complete a challenge on Taskmaster. And that’s his (occasional) unalloyed joy when one of them absolutely nails it.

The much-loved panel show is back on Channel 4 for its 13th series - and fourth since it switched from Dave in 2020 - with Taskmaster Davies back alongside his sidekick (and the show’s creator) ‘little’ Alex Horne.

And this time around the line-up of very funny people doing increasingly silly things is Ardal O’Hanlon, Bridget Christie, Chris Ramsey, Judi Love and Sophie Duker. Stuff and nonsense has never been funnier.

What they say: ‘Taskmaster’s mix of inventive games and comedian contestants who can flick from jolly to competitive in the blink of an eye has seen it edge closer and closer to national treasure status.’ The Guardian

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