It’s not unfair to say that there are two areas of programming the BBC have struggled greatly with in the last decade and a half. One: making Saturday night telly unmissable during those times of the year when Strictly Come Dancing isn’t on the air. Two: making a show centred around pop music actually unmissable and actually well, y’know, good telly. I mean we all know about their recent attempts at it, right?
And just like that, last night they launched a new pop music quiz show that swiftly provided the resolution to both these issues they’ve had and we have been craving the answer to for years. The HitList has a title theme and set that even recalls the glory days of when we watched Top of the Pops (1996 to approximately 2002, for reference – insert your own time period as you see fit), but not in a backward or desperate way.
It also helps that the show is anchored by two people who it’s safe to say have a strong background with the theme of the show, in Rochelle and Marvin Humes (she of course, formerly of The Saturdays, and he formerly of JLS). We’ve said pretty much every year for the last six years since they hosted This Morning together whilst Phil and Holly were on holiday that they needed a show of their own. Of course, what they needed was one that was a perfect fit for them, and this is.
Based on a game that, according to press releases for the show, they’ve invented at home for entertaining family over the Christmas holidays, The HitList is sort of like ‘Beat the Intro’ for 2019. It consists of three teams of two – partners, friends, family members – with the team with the least points leaving at the end of each of the three rounds. In the first round, ‘Number Ones and Number Twos’, the teams have to identify a chart topping hit from the briefest of sound clips. If a team gets it right, they win points, with the opportunity to win more by also naming the record that was at number two that week from a short sound clip.
The second round is when the stakes get upped, and they have to identify songs based on a certain theme, e.g. songs that have titles related to books, or songs by artists from Australia, but are only given three opportunities to skip on a song. The third and final round is when the remaining team have to identify ten songs in the ‘Hit List’ playlist for a chance to win £10,000, with the prize money being deducted by the second for every song they skip or are stuck on. It’s such a simple but surprisingly engaging, edge of your seat format.
For a music geek like me, it’s a perfect show, particularly as Rochelle and Marvin are very specific and impress upon the contestants that they need the exact titles of songs, rather than what they’re commonly known as, in order to win the points. It thus means that last night was the first time I’ve shouted ‘Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)’ so loudly at a TV screen, but it’s all part of the fun.
It’s definitely a quiz show that displays a lot of hallmarks and potential catchphrases that could turn it into in a long running favourite, to be up there with the likes of Pointless – itself a staple of BBC One’s Saturday evening schedule for almost ten years – or even classics like The Generation Game and Family Fortunes.
In short, it’s something that all the family can watch and play along with – and you’d be surprised how many you actually find yourself getting right where others are struggling. It has that ‘I could do that better than them’ factor in spades, which is at the heart of any quiz show worth its salt.
The HitList may only be one episode in, but we’ve a sneaking suspicion that for the first time since Noel Edmonds did his final ‘Gotcha’ almost two decades ago, that it’s about to make primetime Saturday night telly unmissable once again. And best believe we’re signing up to play on a second series.
The HitList continues Saturday evenings at 7:30pm on BBC One. UK viewers can watch the first episode back now via BBC iPlayer.