The Debbie King Show (lost episode of ITV Play phone-in quiz show; 2007)

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Status: Lost

The Debbie King Show was a short-lived ITV Play show. Presented by Debbie King, who had previously hosted Quizmania, it followed the same premium-rate phone-in quiz show format as its predecessors, while also taking a satirical outlook on current events and allowing viewers the opportunity to discuss their own stories. However, the show is infamous for lasting a single episode on 5th March 2007, as it aired in the wake of the British premium-rate phone-in scandal which swiftly saw the suspension and later the folding of ITV Play.


Prior to The Debbie King Show, Debbie King herself had achieved success in creating and presenting the phone-in quiz show Quizmania, which originally aired on ITV1 starting from 12th August 2005.[1][2][3] Broadcast during late-night timeslots, the show would present various questions and games on-screen that would encourage viewers to spend 75p per call on its premium-rate telephone service.[4][3] Doing so would theoretically give the viewer the opportunity of being selected to answer the question and receive a cash prize.[3][4] To entice a large proportion of viewers to call, the questions were often simplistic in nature, such as naming a service that can be contacted by dialling 999.[1][3] It was the inaugural premium-line call-in show for ITV, establishing a genre which was generally criticised for being exceptionally dull and uninspired, and for baiting viewers by providing seemingly "easy" questions which in reality were exceptionally difficult.[4][3]

However, the show's entertainment value, enhanced by King and co-host Greg Scott's charisma, led to an explosion in popularity.[3][2][1] Its success even inspired ITV to establish the ITV Play channel, capitalising on the growth of phone-in competition television shows.[5][3] Quizmania ended its television run on 14th January 2007.[1][3] Despite this, ITV remained optimistic that a phone-in show starring King was still commercially viable.[6][7][8] Hence, The Debbie King Show became a spiritual successor to Quizmania, with a clear ambition to build upon King's fanbase.[2][7][8] Produced by Hamma + Glamma Productions, the show primarily conformed to the phone-in quiz show format.[6] However, King would present UK and international news, albeit from a light-hearted, satirical approach.[6][8][7] Further capitalising on the phone-in format, The Debbie King Show encouraged viewers to text and discuss their own news stories.[6][8] The show was first announced in February 2007, including via King's MySpace account.[9] Like with many ITV Play shows, The Debbie King Show received little subsequent promotion, outside of a TalkSport interview held at 3am on the morning of its planned debut.[6]

Airing and Swift Cancellation

But even before the show aired a single episode, the writing was already on the wall.[6][8] In mid-February 2007, investigations were launched by communications regulator Ofcom and premium-rate phone service regulator ICSTIS after discovering numerous instances of misconduct, including by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and smaller television channels.[10] Among the most severe revelations involved phone-in entrants having diminished or non-existent chances of winning (with ITV franchise GMTV's competitions containing an overflow system which charged viewers but gave them zero chance to actually win);[11] shows ignoring results in favour of their own choices (including Blue Peter and Soapstar Superstar); overcharging viewers (The X Factor);[12] and failing to even find winners for certain competitions (like in BrainTeaser).[10] Quizmania was also affected, with one quiz tasking viewers to guess items from a woman's handbag awarding just seven of the 13 prizes offered.[1] Ofcom later imposed fines to offending broadcasters, including £2 million onto GMTV for its role in the scandal.[10] ITV were later fined £5.68 million for a string of other premium-rate phone-in regulation breaches.[13]

ITV Play's programming was heavily affected by the resulting investigations.[12][5][6][8] It was soon announced that the channel would temporarily cease operations on 6th March 2007 so that a full audit of its phone-in services could commence.[12][5][6][8] This led to speculation on whether The Debbie King Show would even air a single episode.[6][8] Alas, the decision was made to broadcast the opening episode live on 5th March at 10pm.[6][8] Viewers on TV Forum were generally unimpressed with the show's low-budget and uninspired format, declaring it as a sign the phone-in genre was becoming tired.[8] The show also suffered technical issues, including cutting King off before she could sign-off.[6]

Ultimately, the scandal, combined with public outrage that saw ITV Play's calls drop by about 60%, led to the channel being dissolved on 15th March, to be replaced by ITV2+1.[14][5] While some quiz shows moved onto ITV1 and ITV2, no channels decided to carry The Debbie King Show, leading to its cancellation after merely one episode.[15][6][5] While expressing interest in presenting The X Factor, King's television career declined following her show's demise, though she has achieved success in subsequent independent projects.[2][15]


Because of ITV Play's abrupt suspension, combined with the show's format making it impossible for repeated airings, The Debbie King Show's television lifespan lasted merely a single late-night timeslot.[6][5] It was also affected by ITV Play's viewership and calls sharply dipping following the phone-in scandal, greatly reducing its chances of being recorded by a viewer.[5] Hence, the show's sole episode, alongside most airings of Quizmania, have been lost to the public not long following their broadcasts.[3] ITV's financial and reputation damage it suffered during the scandal makes it extremely unlikely it will ever publicly re-release these shows.

See Also

External Link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 UK Game Shows summarising Quizmania. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 UK Game Shows biography on King. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Doctorvee reflecting on Quizmania and its final episode. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Guardian reporting on ITV entering the phone-in competition race via Quizmania. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 UK Game Shows summarising ITV Play ad its cancellation. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 UK Game Shows summarising The Debbie King Show and its swift cancellation. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mighty Fine Productions briefly summarising The Debbie King Show. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 TV Forum discussing The Debbie King Show. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  9. TV Forum discussing the announcement of The Debbie King Show. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The Daily Star summarising the premium-rate phone-in scandal. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  11. Daily Mail reporting on GMTV's overflow system, a major source of controversy during the scandal. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Guardian reporting on ITV Play being suspended. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  13. Digital Spy reporting on ITV being fined £5.68 million for a series of regulation breaches. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  14. BBC News reporting on ITV Play being scrapped. Retrieved 27th Jun '23
  15. 15.0 15.1 Daily Mail noting some quiz shows lived on following ITV Play's demise, and noting King's desire to present The X Factor. Retrieved 27th Jun '23