How Do They Do That? (BBC1, 1994-1997)
This is a show that can fit into a few genres, and can be classed as a factual documentary entertainment show. The idea behind How Do They Do That was very simply to explain how various things were achieved, such as showing off some advancements in technology, and so on. There could be plenty of secrets that were about to be revealed.
I’m not sure if this is based on an American format, but when having a look online I did come across a very similar 90s show called How’d They Do That, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t an influence. Viewers were able to write in with questions, and there was a rather large response, showing that a lot people were definitely interested in this. How Do They Do That also received some publicity at the time of the launch because who one of the hosts was.
It was Des Lynam, and this was a rare move away from hosting sport coverage, there would be no football results here. The other main host was Jenny Hull, who had been a familiar face to viewers in the ITV TSW region for several years already. Every series would usually feature a spectacular stunt that would be performed in the studio, and then how it was all put together would be explained.
Did Des really jump out of a plane and land in the studio? Well, maybe not. A lot of viewers were initially convinced though. The highlight of the show for me though was when they took a look behind the scenes of things in TV like how adverts are put together. And of course when they had a look at how the BBC2 idents that were introduced in the early-90s were created, that was rather interesting. There were also a few amusing moments, such as comedians revealing how they design their routines.
This was all a ratings success, although being shown after EastEnders probably helped. However, Des left after a couple of series to return to the more familiar world of Match Of The Day and the like. He was replaced by Eamonn Holmes, who also had about 15 other TV shows on the go at the time, while Hull was replaced by Esther McVey. Who would’ve thought that a primetime show could be so educational, but it was.