A Decade In TV: Yesterday’s Babies

Simon Cowell

It feels only yesterday that we were in the year 2004; a time that saw television in a separate landscape than it’s in today. BBC iPlayer was something of a fantasy, digital television was still a work in progress and broadcast networks in America ruled television with an iron fist.

This time ten years ago, American network ABC took the first steps in reversing their fledging fortunes with new ground-breaking shows, a cult British actor made the jump to a television superstar, and an emerging media mogul launched a television phenomenon that revolutionized British television for the rest of the decade.

These are just some of the shows launched ten years ago which went on to make an immediate impact in British & American television. I’ll be taking a look at five unique shows that are still having an influence on television minds today.

(1) The X Factor – ITV – 2004-Present
Simon Cowell took a personal risk in late 2003 to bring in a new music show, in his bid to wipe the smile off Simon Fuller’s face, following their unhappy time working together on Pop Idol. The result made Simon Cowell one of the biggest and most famous media moguls of the 21st century. The X Factor has been at the centre of Cowell’s personal music revolution across the world, creating new stars such as Leona Lewis & One Direction.

(2) Strictly Come Dancing – BBC One – 2004-Present
ITV weren’t the only channel taking risks in 2004. BBC One took on one too, reviving the age old ballroom dancing format with a selection of changes to guarantee a new audience for the show. Bruce Forsyth signified his career re-emergence by hosting the show, as well as providing a fresh challenge for a variety of celebrities in Britain and abroad.

(3) The Apprentice – NBC/BBC One – 2004-Present
Billed in the U.S as “The Ultimate Job Interview”, Donald Trump’s business reality show launched a new sub-genre in reality television, making the format a fortune around the world, and making Sir Alan Sugar a household name in the process. It also spun a spin off entitled Junior Apprentice, but sadly did not match The Apprentice’s huge following.

(4) Lost/Desperate Housewives – ABC – 2004-2010/2012
Prior to 2004, American network ABC was trailing behind in 4th place behind competing networks FOX, CBS & NBC in both ratings and popular programming. Through clever scheduling and commissioning of major new pilots, fall 2004 saw ABC bounce back with major new offerings such as Ugly Betty & Grey’s Anatomy. But it was JJ Abrams’s Lost & Marc Cherry’s Desperate Housewives that helped ABC bounce back in ratings and made worldwide stars out of Matthew Fox & Evangeline Lily, as well as reigniting Teri Hatcher’s career.

(5) House – FOX – 2004-2012
Before this show, Hugh Laurie was only known for his comedy and family roles, with a small niche audience mainly in Britain. But his role as Dr.Gregory House gained him a new legion of fans, and started the idea that anyone from the acting world in Britain could gain success in the States, whether it was only small TV roles, or the lead in a Shakespearian play. Following its debut, House became an international success for FOX and took Hugh Laurie’s career into an entirely new direction.