Here's Why ITV's "The Nightly Show" Isn't Working (Yet)

We're watching because you might not be.

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The Nightly Show, ITV's new five-nights-a-week talk show, has not had the most successful of starts, with its viewing figures pretty hit and miss.

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Monday's episode looked promising with almost 3 million viewers, but on Tuesday it lost half of them, ending up with 1.3 million. Last night it pulled in 2 million, with each night's ratings seemingly affected by how well the show on before did (Broadchurch was watched by 7.5 million on Monday, Play to the Whistle got 2 million on Tuesday, and Benidorm had 4.7 million viewers on Wednesday).

ITV expected some fluctuations in viewing figures, especially with News at Ten being controversially moved to 10:30pm because of the new show. And having watched all the episodes so far, I have a few thoughts on why The Nightly Show might not be exactly working yet.

1. The very first episode of The Nightly Show on Monday, which had to be good, was not funny.

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Your first episode has got to knock it out of the park. In James Corden's first Late Late Show they had Tom Hanks acting out every one of his films in a couple of minutes. It got attention, it stopped critics from suggesting that Corden was struggling, and it just gave the show some great buzz and energy that has been there since.

On Monday's Nightly, we had Martin Clunes pretending to be a ventriloquist's dummy. It wasn't funny.

The other big skit, where Walliams dressed up as Emma Stone, didn't seem to work. In fact the greatest surprise was the fact that the biggest Oscars fail in history, a huge cultural moment that had taken place the previous night and could have easily filled 10 minutes of jokes, resulted in only one quick skit. It was as if the Oscars weren't worth talking about.

ITV sees this show as an eight-week experiment, knew that it would attract some criticism (especially with the news moving), and appreciates that it will take time for it to find its feet. And the thing is, the show is getting better in jokes and confidence each night. Wednesday's show was the strongest so far. The problem? You have to find at least some magic and spark in the show straight away, because it's just so much harder to get it later.

2. The idea to replace the presenter every single week is frankly ridiculous.

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ITV's decision to swap the host each week is intended to shake the show up. I can also see the logic of why they did this. For the channel, switching the host could spark a "who's on this week?" buzz from the audience and journalists. And for the talent, it might be a big risk to tie yourself to an eight-week experiment for five nights a week. If it fails, you wouldn't want your name attached to it, so doing just a week that people might forget is safer.

The problem, though, is that constantly swapping the hosts risks the consistency. Your presenter might be shaky on Monday, nail it on Friday, and then be shown the door.

Also, a core reason to tune in to talk shows, such as Graham Norton's in the UK or Jimmy Fallon's or Samantha Bee's in the US, is that when a huge news story or pop culture moment breaks, you want to know the host's reaction. Why? Because you're familiar with them and you care about what they might have to say. If there's a new host each week, you may not care as much.

3. The Nightly Show has enough content to fill an entire hour, but it's squeezed into half the time.

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It started with a monologue. Then a skit. Then an interview and then an ad break. All in 10 minutes. And then there was a gameshow segment, then a stand-up performer appeared, then there was another chat and a goodbye. The programme is just like The Tonight Show, which is an hour long each night, but Nightly lasts just 30 minutes.

By Wednesday, the show had calmed down a bit. Rob Brydon was interviewed for nearly 20 minutes (not five), only leaving the sofa for a quick obstacle course. ITV is tweaking the format with every episode, but there's still no time for anything to run longer than planned should a guest come out with an engaging answer or should something unexpected happen. In the final minutes of each episode you can kind of sense the panic at the lack of time left.

4. Each episode has felt a bit disjointed – because it seems like there's a desperation for segments to go viral.

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I bet part of the reason why The Nightly Show exists comes down to the viral clips that litter your Twitter and Facebook feeds each morning. There's the hope that a standout moment that will spread across the internet, then be shared by your friends and colleagues and tempt you to watch the show. ITV certainly wants us to talk about Nightly when it isn't on.

The problem is that if you are trying to fill a programme with these sorts of potential viral moments that viewers don't need to watch the rest of the show to understand, the end result can feel lacking in flow and just a bit forced.

5. They end the 30-minute slot with a random feature where they show a video from the internet.

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Firstly, you cannot predict what will be popular on the internet. It's the titting internet.

Secondly, this segment comes across like your mother shouting about what she has found on her Facebook feed, which is fine, of course, if your mother does that. But it's weird for anyone watching this under the age of 40.

In fact it makes you wonder who exactly this show is for. The first episode's big guest was Martin Clunes. Why? Nothing against him, but why was he chosen? On Wednesday they had various zoo animals visiting (including a camel that urinated backstage), which suggests that this show is for children.

So who is it for? Is it for a younger audience? An ITV audience? An audience that doesn't go on the internet? Who exactly?

All shows have their niggles and take time to find their feet. Live television, too, is so damn hard to pull off well and when a live production is actually fantastic, to the viewer it looks so easy.

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I hope The Nightly Show does well, I really do. ITV is really being ambitious when it doesn't need to be. The problem is that these days viewers simply don't stick around. They're more tempted than ever to switch to another channel or Netflix if it doesn't work for them and unfortunately first impressions are everything. ITV has got to make it work, and fast.

The Nightly Show continues on ITV at 10pm Monday to Friday. John Bishop hosts next week.