TV’s biggest turkeys

Reno Rumble is not alone in having an inglorious launch. Remember these....?


Yasmin’s Getting Married is often touted as TV’s biggest flop, axed by TEN in 2006 after just four episodes of a planned 9 week run.

Shows such as Excess Baggage, The Renovators, The Resort and Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth were also notorious fails. Others we think of as flops actually launched above the magic million: Celebrity Splash, Tricky Business, Gallipoli, Canal Road but tumbled thereafter.

Some such as House Rules in 2013 managed to be salvaged after dismal starts, which is what Nine will be hoping for after Reno Rumble pulled a disastrous 395,000.

Of course in any ratings comparisons there needs to be some context:

  • 2016 ratings can barely be compared to those of 2 years ago let alone anything earlier.
  • timeslots are a significant factor, as are days of the week.
  • a low number for Nine or Seven may be a strong number for SBS etc.

Nevertheless, everyone loves a list….

With that in mind here are some of the more inglorious launches on primetime, where a show launched on the primary channel in 5 metro cities (Overnight figures only).

This list is not complete, but it does acknowledge some of the more spectacular ratings fails on Free to Air.

Please Like Me (2015) ABC, 129,000
Bollywood Star, SBS. 179,000
Living with the Enemy, SBS. 182,000
Room 101, SBS. 206,000
Reef Doctors, TEN. 357,000
Reno Rumble (2016), Nine. 395,000
Jonah from Tonga, ABC. 414,000
Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth, Nine. 441,000
The Gods of Wheat Street, ABC. 458,000.
I Will Survive, TEN. 506,000
The Verdict, Nine. 522,000
Celebrity Dog School, TEN 527,000
How Not to Behave, ABC. 536,000
Kyle and Jackie O’s A Night With The Stars, Seven. 560,000
Celebrity Apprentice (2015), Nine 566,000
Don’t Tell the Bride, TEN. 583,000
Everybody Dance Now, TEN. 597,000
Sleuth 101, ABC. 644,000
Bringing Sexy Back, Seven. 654,000
Restaurant Revolution, Seven. 676,000
The White Room, Seven. 678,000
Crownies, ABC 706,000
The Farmer Wants a Wife (2016), Nine. 763,000
Yasmin’s Getting Married, TEN. 774,000
My Kid’s a Star, Nine. 780,000
Australia’s Got Talent (2016), Nine. 785,000
Australia’s Perfect Couple, Nine. 798,000
House Rules (2013), Seven. 803,000
The Resort, TEN 822,000
Conviction Kitchen, Seven. 825,000
Warnie, Nine. 854,000
The Renovators, TEN. 858,000
The Mole (2013), Seven. 864,000
Excess Baggage, Nine. 885,000
Greed, TEN. 910,000
The Shire, TEN, 913,000
Being Lara Bingle, TEN. 924,000
Let Loose Live, Seven. 900,000

There were several other notorious titles I researched but was unable to ascertain by deadline:

The Mick Molloy Show, Nine.
Shafted, Nine.
The Hothouse, TEN.

This post updates.

38 Responses

  1. What about ‘The Master’ quiz show on Channel 7 (2006) which was yanked off air after only one episode went to air? Luckily it was the episode in which I was a contestant – so I got to keep my $1200 prize money LOL!

  2. It be interesting to work out how many of these were commissioned with a star or presenter in mind, to capitalise on that person’s success elsewhere. Reno Rumble and Bringing Sexy Back stand out as two such examples.

    I was also much amused by the concept of Conviction Kitchen, as it sounded very similar to one of Alan Partridge’s ideas when he gave a desperate pitch to a BBC exec: Cooking… in Prison.
    Can we expect Monkey Tennis next?

  3. Before 2001 but 1993’s Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush would have to be there. Nine commissioned this series with Tim Ferguson as host to replace Hey Hey It’s Saturday but Daryl threatened a court case if they axed his show so DFYT was shown on Thursday night. Another intended Hey Hey replacement two years later, The Mick Molloy Show, was also a disaster.

  4. The Gods of Wheat Street doesn’t belong on the list. Unlike the others it was a pretty decent show. To put that show alongside those woeful, tacky reality shows is not right and anyone who thinks it belongs there obviously doesn’t even know what the show is about, let alone even watched a single episode.

  5. Maybe Yasmin can be Ten’s next Bachelorette. “The Spinster” would probably be a more fitting title though considering that she’s probably, if not already 40 by now.

  6. All worthy of belonging on a turkeys list… but let’s not forget the grand daddies of the TV flops (and probably before most people on here were even born!)… the 1980s (and 90s) soapies that all launched with much hype but went out with a whimper: Arcade, Holiday Island, Taurus Rising, Punishment, Starting Out, Paradise Beach, Echo Point, Chances…

  7. The Big Adventure on Seven – 945,000. Number doesn’t seem too bad but is notable because it was simulcast on two channels.

    Proud to say I didn’t watch any shows on that list.

  8. I have to admit I actually liked quite a few of those ‘turkeys’. I thought Tricky Business was an great show & should have rated better. And Gallipoli was excellent, was well done & very good acting. I think I’m the only person who liked Ben Elton’s Planet Earth show, it was really funny.

  9. Great article David, I think you left out Hole In the Wall? Or don’t tell me it actually rated well??

    Some of those shows weren’t too bad but perhaps suffered from bad scheduling etc, ones I liked were Conviction Kitchen, How Not To Behave, Please Like Me, House Rules…but they weren’t exactly ‘not to be missed’ tv

  10. Tens news revolution with Negus and the 6;30 news (which I believe SBS news beat towards the end) probably need to be included

    Million $ Wheel of fortune also was it 2 weeks in 2008?
    So you think you can Dance 2014 – 466,000 on launch

    And saving the best for last – Power of 10 with Steve Jabibs lasting only 2 weeks,after pulling 700,000 in its first week only to drop to 540,000 in its second and final week

  11. Excellent lists, there are some uber turkeys in that lot. With the exception of Reef Doctors, it can be seen that Reno Rumble has had the lowest FTA channel launch numbers for a new series. That is extremely humiliating for 9, considering the amount of hype and buzz they have attempted to generate for it. Excess Baggage was a positive smash hit in comparison, yet it was soon relegated to a secondary channel. Seven must be feeling nervous about Crowded House Rules (honestly, is that not the worst title ever?) as this bodes very badly for it.

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