“Quite simply, there hasn’t been a new entertainment format on TV as good as this for 20 years”


The Traitors, BBC1

“Fingernails were gnawed. Nerves were shredded. The Traitors (BBC One) delivered tension, tears and plot twists right to the end. This wasn’t just the reality show of the year. It was one of the best shows of the year full stop. After a low-key start – launching during the World Cup hardly helped – the reality gameshow became a hit by stealth. Social media buzz built. Word of mouth spread. It trended on Twitter during every episode and ratings grew week-on-week to 5m. This supersized game of Cluedo proved fiendishly addictive and was watched by more UK viewers than Harry & Meghan on Netflix. Who needs royal traitors when you’ve got civilian ones?”
Michael Hogan, Telegraph

“Quite simply, there hasn’t been a new entertainment format on TV as good as this for 20 years. The last time telly wizards came up with something this fresh and addictive, social media hadn’t been invented. Around the turn of the millennium, two shows changed everything — Pop Idol and Big Brother. They set the pattern for everything to come. The Traitors is the perfect show for a different era, the age of fake news and cancellation.
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

“Let me just say that I was gooped and gagged right up to the last moments. It’s a chest-hammering conclusion, chaotically entertaining and fraught with drama until its final breath. And of course, there are tears – so many tears – this time even from Claudia. But whether you want the Traitors to win or you’re, as they say, 100% Faithful, this has been the reality TV highlight of the year. For the sake of us all – but mostly the person who knits Claudia’s jumpers – let’s hope another series is announced soon.”
Alim Kheraj, The Guardian

Riches, ITVX

“Said plot gives no one – characters or viewers – any time to draw breath, nor to dwell much on issues to do with racism and colourism which are dutifully mentioned in passing. Instead it’s a mad, messy boardroom opera powered by bling, bitching and double-entry bookkeeping. Alliances deliquesce and reform between ad breaks, characters are picked up and ruthlessly swiped left, and there are easily enough dangling subplots to fire up a second series. The standout star is the aggrieved widow Claudia. As played by Sarah Niles, the sphinx-like therapist from Ted Lasso, she seethes and scowls like a wronged panto villainess. “What am I supposed to do with 20 grand a month?” she snarls when the will is read out. I predict a massive fanbase.”
Jasper Rees, Telegraph

“Let’s be honest, the dialogue isn’t scalpel-sharp like Succession’s, which packs a belter in every third line, nor does it seem to be playing for laughs. But I like it; it’s fresh and intriguing and I like the idea that it was the spurned first wife who came up with the idea for the global black hair products company Flair & Glory.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

“There is a moment during a particularly climactic scene in the big, juicy melodrama that is Riches (ITVX) in which a scorned wife throws a bowl full of fruit across a boardroom table and screams, “You bitch!” It’s a good indication of the level of bombast this fantastically over-the-top series is going for, which seems to be Empire meets Dynasty meets Footballers’ Wives. So far, the new dramas launched by ITVX have been pretty straight and serious, but this is far more tongue-in-cheek. It is soapy, slick and thoroughly enjoyable.”
Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian

Inside No 9, BBC2

“The Bones of St Nicholas, the 44th story off Inside No 9’s ever-reliable conveyor belt, was not, perhaps, the most original. Pemberton has played a version of the testy prof and Shearsmith the northern clodhopper in previous stories – as if they were the risen ghosts of old performances. The same goes for Simon Callow’s churchwarden, a fruity old posho called Dick. But there was another spectre at this gathering. Pemberton and Shearsmith are devoted scholar fans of Victoria Wood and cast her as the queen of England in their film of The League of Gentlemen, letting her write her own gags. Having in Gulati a veteran of dinnerladies at their disposal, they gave her perfect Woodisms to deliver.”
Jasper Rees, Telegraph

“The episode was written to evoke MR James, Charles Dickens and Callow’s previous stage performances of Dickens. While not the best or funniest episode of the anthology, it was beautifully judged for Christmas. The tale of St Nicholas missing the bottom half of his jaw, his tongue flapping grotesquely, because unscrupulous folk steal saints’ body parts, was delivered with grisly relish by Callow. We’ll miss this gem of a show when it’s gone. Hopefully it’s an au revoir not a goodbye.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

““The Bones of St Nicholas” was just what I wanted from a creepy Yuletide tale. It was unsettling without lurching into straight-up horror and – hallelujah – there was absolutely no gore. Shearsmith and Pemberton instead conjured slow-rising dread, with a dram of hysterical humour poured on top. This was a hark back to the 19th-century origins of the Christmas ghost story, made famous by writers such as MR James and, of course, Charles Dickens.”
Ed Power, The i