Ratings Guide – Series 5-8

Series 1-4 Series 5-8

Despite a strong start, series 5 experienced a gentle decline in the programme’s ratings, with the show edging towards the bottom of the top ten and even on a couple of occasions not making it at all.  Curiously, the Gotcha compilation aired between Christmas and New Year was the second highest rated episode of the run, which explains the numerous episodes of the Hall of Fame format during this period.  The decision to market the final episode as the 100th clearly paid off though, with a huge 12.63m viewers tuning in for the celebrations – the final time the show would rate over 11m.

21/10/95 11.08m (7th in BBC1 top ten)

28/10/95 11.27m (10th)

04/11/95 – 09/12/95 not published in Radio Times

16/12/95 – 10.33m (7th in BBC1 top ten)

30/12/95 – The Gotcha Hall of Fame – 12.19m (9th)

06/01/96 – 10.75m (10th)

13/01/96 – 10.30m (10th)

20/01/96 – 10.52m (8th)

27/01/96 – 12.00m (6th)

03/02/96 – 10.91m (8th)

10/02/96 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 10.96m)

24/02/96 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 12.52m)

02/03/96 – 10.27m (10th)

09/03/96 – 11.05m (6th)

16/03/96 – 11.24m (8th)

23/09/96 – 10.91m (6th)

30/03/96 – Noel’s 100th House Party – 12.63m (4th)

The decline of the viewing public’s love for the show began here. The series launch only just scraped into the top ten and then spent numerous weeks entirely outside of it, meaning we have no figures to report other than what it rated lower than.  The erratic nature of the show’s format this series is perhaps better understood against this backdrop, with unpopular elements being jettisoned in order to attempt to win back the lost viewers. 

Notably this period also saw various factual formats such as Watchdog and Children’s Hospital edge in front of the more traditional House Party, suggesting viewer appetites were changing.  Perhaps learning from the success of the “100th” show the heavily-promoted New York edition was something of a surprise hit, topping 10m for the only time in series 6 (and last time in the show’s history) and putting the show back to 5th in the top ten (with some of the extra viewers coming back the week after). It is perhaps no surprise that the programme swiftly booked a return trip to the States.

19/10/96 – 9.98m (8th in BBC1 top ten)

26/10/96 – 9.68m (9th in BBC1 top ten)

02/11/96 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 8.98m)

09/11/96 – 28/12/96 not published in Radio Times

04/01/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 10.25m)

11/01/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.67m)

18/01/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.59m)

25/01/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.37m)

01/02/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.08m)

08/02/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.73m)

15/02/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.00m)

22/02/97 – 9.40m (10th)

01/03/97 – not in BBC1 top ten (less than 9.01m)

08/03/97 – 8.87m (10th)

15/03/97 – Noel’s New York House Party – 10.35m (5th)

22/03/97 – 9.19m (7th)

29/03/97 – unknown (Radio Times listed the BBC1 top ten incorrectly with multiple episodes of the same programmes)

Another year and another million desert the show – although it should be pointed out the first four weeks (at least) still made the BBC One top ten, indicating lower figures across the board.  The rest of the series is almost entirely absent from the chart meaning we have little to go on other than the certainty the figures declined even further following Noel’s walkout, and the performance was no longer in line with the rest of the channel.  

Notably on 21st February Jim Davidson’s Generation Game edged into the top ten with 8.79m and The National Lottery Draw scored 12.24m indicating the House Party was actually causing people to turn off for fifty minutes, something that will no doubt have caused concern.  Series 7.2’s sole appearance in the top ten on 7th March seems to have been due to the programme airing 15 minutes later than usual due to live sport earlier in the day, meaning those tuning in for the lottery results instead got to see a disappointing Gotcha for Malandra Burrows.

18/10/97 – 8.27m (9th in BBC One top ten)

25/10/97 – 8.56m (7th)

01/11/97 – 8.56m (7th)

08/11/97 – 8.50m (10th)

15/11/97 – 20/12/97 – not published in Radio Times

03/01/98 – The Best of Noel’s House Party – not in BBC One top ten (less than 10.24m)

10/01/98 – Noel’s Greatest Gotchas – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.9m)

17/01/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 9.5m)

24/01/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 9.68m)

31/01/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.99m)

07/02/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 9.85m)

14/02/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.99m)

21/02/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.79m)

28/02/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 9.22m)

07/03/98 – 8.74m (10th)

14/03/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.10m)

21/03/98 – not in BBC One top ten (less than 8.10m)

If we were still relying on the Radio Times top ten this would be a very short list – thankfully, BARB’s website has archive data beginning in July 1998 meaning we can present a fuller guide than the previous two series.

For consistency we’ve calculated the BBC One chart placing based on the same rules Radio Times used.  7.89m tuned in for the big relaunch episode, no doubt a disappointment, and it
didn’t get any better, with the series knocking around the 7m mark for a few months. 

After the Generation Game’s run finished a dramatic drop off saw the show failing to make the top 30 transmissions and beaten by all sorts of unexceptional programming including the Six O’Clock News.  Noel would later blame poor inheritance from Ronan Keating’s Get Your Act Together as the source of the show’s ratings woes (though relying on Jim Davidson to shore up your viewing figures is a sure sign the game is up), but sure enough when BBC One took action and made Big Break the lead in the Davidson effect pushed the ratings back above 6m. 

This also coincided with the announcement that the House Party was to end and a degree of publicity for the show, and an impressive 8.3m were nostalgic enough to tune in for episode 169 – the first appearance in the BBC One top ten in over a year.

17/10/98 – 7.89m (13th in BBC One chart)

24/10/98 – 7.29m (14th)

31/10/98 – 7.01m (19th)

07/11/98 – not in BARB chart (less than 6.43m)

14/11/98 – 6.89m (24th)

21/11/98 – 7.19m (20th)

28/11/98 – 7.56m (14th)

05/12/98 – 7.28m (19th)

12/12/98 – 7.27m (17th)

19/12/98 – 7.10m (19th)

02/01/99 – 7.22m (23rd)

09/01/99 – 8.00m (15th)

16/01/99 – 7.25m (17th)

23/01/99 – 6.92m (19th)

30/01/99 – 6.76m (24th)

06/02/99 – not in BARB chart (less than 6.5m)

13/02/99 – not in BARB chart (less than 6.46m)

20/02/99 – not in BARB chart (less than 6.38m)

27/02/99 – 6.66m (22nd)

06/03/99 – 6.54m (20th)

13/03/99 – Noel’s House Party Gotcha Special – 6.71m (15th)

20/03/99 – 8.30m (7th)

Special thanks to Steve Williams for providing additional information!