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6 Promising TV shows that should have ended sooner

BY Tim Ellis

27th Dec 2022 Film & TV

6 Promising TV shows that should have ended sooner

We all love a good TV series, but there's no denying that some shows overstay their welcome. Here are six shows that should have ended sooner

The BBC has axed the long-running Top of the Pops Xmas Day Special after a run of 57 years in the slot. Sometimes, red hot programmes can turn cold and damp if left to fester. Here are six that, arguably, outstayed their welcome. 

The Apprentice 

Like the legendary The Office, The Apprentice kicked off life quietly and without fanfare on BBC2 in 2005. However, it quickly garnered a fanbase for its mix of reality show chatter and adrenaline-fuelled corporate cunning in the desperate quest to become Lord Sugar’s rookie partner

"The Apprentice garnered a fanbase for its mix of reality show chatter and adrenaline-fuelled corporate cunning"

However, since the prize was changed to an investment fund, things have tailed off, as has the quality of the candidates. Series 16 in 2022 was one of the weakest in terms of substance with the usual egregious mistakes by wannabes inducing more of a sigh than a jaw-dropping OMG. The Apprentice now looks for slapdash entertainment ahead of business acumen. 

Only Fools and Horses 

Only Fools and Horses was, and still is, a true British institution. There’s even an ongoing musical at the West End with another 1980s icon, Les Dennis, playing Grandad. The series ran between 1981 and 1991 but there were numerous Christmas specials which topped up the Del Boy and Rodney life story until 2003. 

In retrospect, this epic slice of Cockney entrepreneurialism should have called it quits in 1996 when over 24 million people saw the Trotters finally make the millions of their dreams. Sir David Jason admitted that the show went on too long and  praised Sir John Cleese and Connie Booth in a 2020 BBC interview for “not overdoing things” by capping Fawlty Towers to two series. 

Have I Got News For You 

When Gary Neville recently fronted the long-running panel comedy quiz show, there was a cameo moment of that snack, cackle and pop that made Have I Got News For You such a pomposity-pricking must-watch at the end of the week. Neville admitted he “took a few punches to the face” from Ian Hislop’s razor-sharp questioning on the football pundit’s attendance in Qatar. 

"There was a cameo moment of that snack, cackle and pop"

After over 60 series, HIGNFY has been changing faces all too little in terms of the host, relying on a constant recycling of Alexander Armstrong and familiar faces like Victoria Coren Mitchell. For a show in its 32nd year, a mid-life crisis amid the sharpshooting, punchline-stealing social media landscape is tricky. 

Killing Eve 

When Killing Eve landed on our screens in 2018, critics and audiences alike were blown away by the entrancing nature of two women whose obsession for each other was elevated through a spider web of dark comedy, deep character and eerie wow moments that gave steam to Phoebe-Waller Bridge’s perfectly seamed scripts. The assassin and the maladroit secret agent were the least likely pairing but it all worked.

Once Waller-Bridge handed over writing duties after Series 1, it still had legs but began to fuel up on the queasy stomach quotient. By Season 4, the show had turned into an Eve and Villanelle road trip. The latter’s demise as a floating corpse in the water could be safely described by the victim as a “borrrring” climax. 

Mrs Brown's Boys 

In its heyday, Mrs Brown’s live audience tales of family hilarity and a rambunctious few drinks in the local with a celebrity guest brought in the punters. The Christmas Eve episode in 2013 enjoyed a viewership of over 11 million which was more than a 40 per cent share of the audience. 

"Despite its marmite status, the show is scheduled to go on until at least 2026"

The show has never been to everyone’s taste, with most critics disliking the puerile dialogue and telegraphed slapstick, the exact qualities that are loved by others. The family matriarch, Brendan O’Carroll, has always driven the episodes by owning the ad-libs, even when they go wrong, but something has gone amiss in the family tree. The Halloween episode in 2021 was as spooked as its miserly 2.6 million ratings. Despite its marmite status, the show is scheduled to go on until at least 2026. 

Game of Thrones 

Game of Thrones changed expectations and even viewing habits when it burst onto our screens in 2011. It had to be watched weekly, meaning that the conversations and salivation over what happened next in Westeros would be ripe and raw. It also made fantasy watchable in the context of a series, rather than something that could only work and wow on the big screen. 

Unfortunately, since the end of Series 6, the plots became more like a Michael Bay blockbuster, relying on special effects rather than political intrigue and character interactions. After running out of George R R Martin’s book material, the writers struggled on their own. Reaction to the finale was as underwhelming as the consensus on Line of Duty’s last outing. 

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