THE BBC is the first to admit that some of their Saturday night formats haven’t quite worked.
But while quietly axing them after one series is one thing, having your main rival poke fun at it publicly is a whole different kettle of fish.
ITV favourites ANT & DEC are going to bash the Beeb in their latest Saturday Night Takeaway sketch called The Honoured.
I’m told that in the opening scenes of the whodunnit the Geordie duo mock the Beeb as they brush past a series of cobwebs hanging in an abandoned warehouse signposted “BBC’s Light Entertainment Department”.
The latest series — which follows on from their Crown Jewels episodes last year — returns to ITV next month.
And in the first show Ant & Dece are on a rescue mission to find their Britain’s Got Talent colleague DAVID WALLIAMS, who is being held hostage in a grim looking building.
Later in the series the telly hosts look bemused after they are told of a new show they must present by legendary comedy duo SYD LITTLE and EDDIE LARGE.
OLLY MURS, KATIE PRICE, HOLLY WILLOUGHBY are among around 30 celebs who are appearing in the short film called The Honoured — as Ant & Dec try and unmask a mystery ‘Big Baddie’.
A TV source said: “The boys’ whodunnit sketches are a really closely guarded secret.
“But they always manage to milk their contact books and get the cream of the crop of the industry to appear in them.
“They put a lot of time and effort into making them a key part of the series and fans seem to love them.
“Ant and Dec are known for being cheeky chappies but this will definitely wind up the BBC.
“The Beeb has to admit some of their entertainment offerings the past few years have not been great.”
Other than ratings juggernaut Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has struggled in the Saturday night telly battle.
Singing contest Pitch Battle was ditched after just one series following dire ratings. Its first episode pulled in a measly 2.9 million viewers and was trounced by ITV’s Voice Kids.
The show was fronted by former Bake Off host MEL GIEDROYC who also worked on BBC singing flop Let It Shine.
There’s always a cameo for her on ITV if the BBC run out of format ideas . . .
WHAT? The National Television Awards 2018, ITV1, 7.30pm.
WHY? The cream of the crop in the world of British TV gather at London’s O2 arena to battle it out for a coveted gong. Hosted by DERMOT O’LEARY.
WITH a £20million budget, JAMES NORTON as the star, and a primetime BBC1 slot, McMafia promised so much but failed to deliver.
The thriller debuted on New Year’s Day with a respectable 5.9million viewers tuning in, but just 3.1million were still watching by the end of the fifth episode on Sunday night.
According to my team, who have watched from the start, it looked like it would be packed with sex, violence and jet-setting glamour. But you would get more drama on a Sunday night by watching Countryfile.
Viewers have blamed the slow-moving, complicated storyline, and many were disappointed it was not a successor to The Night Manager, which starred TOM HIDDLESTON and regularly got a six million-strong audience.
When McMafia first aired it received such a positive response there was talk of a second series being quickly commissioned by the BBC.
I don’t think James should clear his diary for a follow-up just yet.
His anxiety is heightened when Robert claims she is showing signs of recovery. Elsewhere, Joe is attacked while jogging in the woods by a mysterious masked stranger and Lisa reaches a difficult decision.
Over in EASTENDERS, Martin refuses to let Stacey see the children after throwing her out of the house.
Sonia intervenes to try to make him see sense.
Meanwhile, Phil is worried for Ben after Billy’s revelation, so he and Mel put their heads together. And Masood is forced to tell Arshad the truth about his job at the pub.
STEPHANIE WARING and SYLVAIN LONGCHAMBON have slammed Dancing on Ice judges JAYNE TORVILL and CHRISTOPHER DEAN for breaking the rules.
Pro skater Sylvain claims if a celebrity stumbles during the skate-off they must immediately get the boot, but the former Olympians chose to save singer LEMAR from elimination on Sunday despite his near fall.
Sylvain said: “The rules are if there’s a stumble in the skate-off they should be out, if the other couple skate well.
“This happened five years ago with PAMELA ANDERSON. She had a stumble and she was voted out.
“They gave Steph better marks on her main routine and he stumbled and they chose him. It is hard to understand when you have two judges that pick you and the other two don’t.”
I was joined by Sylvain and Steph on Lorraine yesterday morning, where the Hollyoaks star showed off her injuries.
Steph added: “I am going to have a hole in my life now.”
You can’t cover that with a novelty T-shirt.
PLENTY of people have written off The Apprentice as a fading show over the last couple of series – but I could not disagree with them more.
The LORD SUGAR-fronted business reality show (less business, more reality these days) remains a must-watch for me every year.
That is why I am over the moon with BBC bosses for giving the Lord their ultimate backing by renewing the show for three more series.
The new deal takes it into 2020 – and I hope there will be more beyond that.