You’ll be amazed by the way these number shapes rule our lives…

Numeric Topological determinism: A checklist for schedulers

This website is called Viewing247 for a reason.  We can watch what we want when we want, and often do, but TV’s strength lies in it being entrained to suit all 24 hours of our day.

You know what else is built on 24?  The advent calendar.  But instead of ending on Christmas Day, the joy of daily rhythms is that as the last box is opened each night, another set of 24 magical hourly boxes are ready to open again.

And it keeps repeating.

Until you die.

I have made an exciting discovery. When TV viewing is highest, viewers like to watch programmes that fit the shape of the hour – of the number. I’ve written about this before, but here’s the more simple guide.


6The number 6 is a circle with a line leading off.

At 6, the circle represents the way the news gathers us together – we watch as an act of civic duty to express our need to belong to a group.  Which is why the BBC – the representation of collective Britishness – does so well.  But the news isn’t the end point, and the line leading away represents how we are left, if we want, to carry on talking, thinking, exploring what we’ve heard.

7The number 7 is like a hinged mirror at an hour when we want our world reflected back, at an angle.  We’ve done the news about the great and the not so good, and now we want stories about people we recognise and feel we know.  It’s like looking at multiple images of ourself.  That’s why The One Show and soap operas work so well.


8Take us on a journey… but not too far.  At 8 we like programmes that transport us for a while, but drop us off where we started. Easy dramas, undemanding documentaries, simple diversions into cooking, gardening or travel. It’s gently aspirational, but without letting us feel bad.

The two circles on top of each other illustrates the problem.  If this is a journey, it’s a car carrying disparate groups all asking ‘Are we there yet?’


99pm.  The main evening televisual event.  If this is all peak-time, 9 is the Ben Nevis. The biggest programmes and the most settled crowd. The tail of the 9 is like a queue outside a venue, leading to the gathered crowd in the circle.

A 9 is, as sniggering schoolboys have long enjoyed, the upside-downy naughty partner for the 6.  As the cryptic clue revealed, ‘sixty-nine’ is sexy, innit.  So if 6pm was a country expressing its social glue, 9pm is the same crowd, settling down together for some cultural escape.


10Ten is interesting, is it not.  The two digits could reflect the household dynamics in which one person (the ‘1’) continues to watch TV, seated next to a bottom-shaped divot (0) left by their absent partner. But it’s a little early in the evening for that.

More pertinently, if the 1 suggests individuality and 0 the collective, 10 shows the uneasy marriage between our wish to run up the dial in search of something, and the zero reflects the scheduling of news and the broadcasters’ appeal to the collective.  Please come and watch, we’ll sew things up nicely so you feel cosy and tucked-in and that.

Well, OK, we might reply, but we like to assert our individuality too.


11 11 bEleven is a quirky number for a quirky hour.  In a happy marriage you’d be watching together side by side.  But there’s a problem. Here’s a (still) large audience ready to align itself with TV, but let down by inconsistent content. One research project found viewers genuinely disappointed that broadcasters ignored their needs at this hour.  But it goes both ways.  If so many people are awake, why do so few turn up if you put on something decent?  Because viewers are restless and exploring, listlessly searching for stimulation.

The 11 is a peculiar two-fingered rejection by the public of the programmes that are scheduled, and of the broadcasters in not putting much on.


12 12Twelve. One partner remains watching, while the other has curled up.

For some this happens disastrously early. A couple that separates each night at 10 might as well explore separate bedrooms while they’re at it. Or while they’re not at it, more likely.

12 is good though. You watch something… I’ll just fall asleep, facing you (222zzz).  Nostalgia works at this time.  It’s a moment for watching TV on your own, but in tune with your younger self.  A Top of the Pops from when you were small. A repeat of something you’ve seen. It’s the hinge that closes one day and starts another.


1It’s 1am and you are bingeing on an American series that you think defines you?

On a Tuesday?

Seriously, go to bed.  You’re on your own, everyone’s asleep and no-one cares.






If man is five, then the devil is six, and God is seven