Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Why we're glued to Gogglebox

google.jpg
juneandleon-rt.jpg
sandysandra-rt.jpg

The programme no-one can resist is back for a third series. TV critic Michael Hogan analyses the strange allure of channel 4’s Gogglebox

Watching other people watching TV – who’d have guessed that would be a cultural phenomenon? Yet that’s exactly the pitch for Channel 4’s cult hit Gogglebox. Its third series started last week and it’s now been promoted to the prime slot of 9pm on Friday.

When Gogglebox debuted one year ago, critics (myself included) sneered that the bottom of the reality barrel was being scraped. Yet such critics underestimated the fiendish genius of the format. A cross between The Royle Family, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Big Brother, it’s compulsive, hilarious and heartbreaking. It captured viewers’ imaginations, saw ratings double from 800,000 to 1.5 million and became one of the most tweeted-about shows of 2013. Remake rights have been sold to China, Ukraine and America, where it will be called The People’s Couch.

Only matching recliners will do for June and Leon

So what’s the attraction? For starters, it appeals to the voyeur in us all, providing a rare glimpse of other people’s soft furnishings, their snacks and drinks, their loungewear, the way they talk to each other and their telly. It’s skilfully made by Studio Lambert, the production company behind Undercover Boss, who found a perfect cast of characters.

There’s posh Steph and Dom, who get merrily sloshed in their Kent B&B; the wise-cracking Siddiqui family from Derby; sweet old married Scouse couple Leon and June and best friends Sandy and Sandra from Brixton.

Don't hold back: Sandy and Sandra share the box in Brixton

It also reflects a cultural shift in the way we watch TV. In this age of Netflix and Sky+, pundits have been sounding the death knell for ‘linear TV’. However, they forgot the sheer joy of watching together. Be it the Strictly final, catching the killer in Broadchurch or Downton on Christmas Day, TV can still unite half the nation.

Like the characters on-screen, Gogglebox makes us gather around our TVs. In a fragmented world, we crave communal experiences. Gogglebox is warmly inclusive, fosters a sense of belonging and provides a connection to the outside world. Not bad for a few cameras pointing at squishy beige sofas.

Gogglebox is on Channel 4, Fridays at 9pm

Related

hero.jpg

20 on-screen bedrooms we wish were ours

main-hero.jpg

Hunger Games producer buys rights to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

rexfeatures-960974d.jpg

Plane in emergency landing as drunk groom fights with bride

menstrual-man-bollywood-hero.jpg

Man who tackled taboo of sanitary care for women in India celebrated in new film

hero.jpg

20 celebrity men with their mums

target-photoshop-horror-hero.jpg

Outrage as Target photoshops teen to give her a thigh gap

Comments

More

Muslim witness of Westminster attack responds to Islamophobic trolls

A picture of the woman walking on Westminster Bridge has been shared widely

by Nicola Colyer
24 Mar 2017

Bright, beautiful and bold Easter cake inspiration

Stylish bake ideas to nick and claim as your own

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

An Avengers-style Disney princesses film could be in the works

24 Mar 2017

All the new emojis set to light up our keyboards

From breastfeeding to broccoli

24 Mar 2017

There's a sex side-effect which benefits you for 48 hours, study finds

It's all about what's known as the sex "afterglow".

by Hayley Spencer
24 Mar 2017

This is how much the houses in Big Little Lies cost

Spoiler: they're VERY expensive.

by Hayley Spencer
23 Mar 2017

Scientists reveal why you need to stop flaking on plans with friends

Don't flake it 'til you make it

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Mar 2017

Revealed: the number one reason that women break up with their partner

The truth hurts

23 Mar 2017

Been zombied? There’s now a name for this confusing dating behaviour

It's time to talk about the zombies of the dating world...

23 Mar 2017

10 female anthems to share with your mum this Mother's Day

The most moving anthems about motherhood by our favourite female artists.

by Alice Vincent
23 Mar 2017