TOWIE becomes UK's longest-running reality show - how do other series measure up?

From Love Island and Big Brother to Blind Date - we chart which UK reality shows stood the test of time.

The Only Ways Is Essex has been renewed until 2024. (ITV)
The Only Ways Is Essex has been renewed until 2024. (ITV)

The Only Way Is Essex has just been renewed until series 32 - making it the UK's longest-running TV series ever.

The ITVBe scripted reality show - which has made stars out of cast members including Gemma Collins, Mark Wight, Joey Essex, Amy Childs and James Argent - first aired in 2010 and has already run for 29 series.

With three new series green lit to air until 2024, TOWIE is set to break the reality TV series record for the UK.

But with shows like I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! running for as long as 21 years, there are some TV favourites that feel like they must have served up almost as many series.

Rival scripted reality shows such as Made In Chelsea and Geordie Shore have clocked up a lot of episodes, while the original reality show Big Brother was on air for 18 years.

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So which are the reality shows that are hot on TOWIE's stiletto heels for the title?

First Dates

Merlin Griffiths is barman on First Dates. (Channel 4)
First Dates has been running for 29 series. (Channel 4)

The Channel 4 dating show which charts love hopeful's romantic - and often awkward - encounters has only been on air for 10 years.

But in that time it has managed to notch up 29 series, including spin-offs First Dates Hotel and Teen First Dates.


Scarlett Moffatt joined Gogglebox in 2014, alongside other members of her family. (Channel 4)
Scarlett Moffatt joined Gogglebox in 2014, alongside other members of her family. (Channel 4)

Perhaps the ultimate reality show for TV lovers - Gogglebox entered the sitting-rooms of a selection of ordinary families in 2013 and recorded their reactions as they watched TV.

Over 25 series fans have been welcomed into the homes of Scarlett Moffatt, Steph and Dom and the Siddiqui Family, and in 2019 celebrities started taking part in the show.

Made In Chelsea

Cast and crew of Made In Chelsea, winner of Best Reality and Constructed Factual, pose in the press room at the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2013 at the Royal Festival Hall on May 12, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Made In Cheslea won the Bafta for best reality TV show back in 2013. (Getty Images)

Rival show Made In Chelsea - starring launched just one year later than TOWIE with the socialites and heirs of West London clearly determined to show they could party, shop and pamper just as hard.

And MIC has certainly given TOWIE a run for its money - with 24 series to date, propelling celebs including Spencer Matthews and Georgia Toffolo into the spotlight.

Geordie Shore

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  Members of the Geordie Shore Cast celebrate their fifth birthday at MTV London on May 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
Geordie Shore celebrated its fifth birthday in 2016. (Getty Images)

Set in Newcastle the young wannabes of Tyneside set out in 2011 to show that they could party even harder than the people of Essex. And they probably won that contest with the show becoming famous for its raucous drinking, sexual exploits, cat fights and bad behaviour.

After 23 series the show was axed last year. Its final reunion series saw original cast members including Charlotte Crosby return, but Vicky Pattison, perhaps Geordie Shore's most famous export, declined to take part.

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

I'm A Celebrity has been going for 22 years. (ITV)
I'm A Celebrity has been going for 22 years. (ITV)

The jungle reality TV favourite hosted by Ant and Dec has been going for 22 years - but with only one series per annum, it can't compete with the likes of TOWIE and MIC.

Blind Date

British Entertainer and Presenter Cilla Black In London for auditions for a new series of ITV's Blind Date, which will be screened later this year.   (Photo by Avalon/Getty Images)
Queen of Blind Dates Cilla Black launched the show in 1985. (Getty Images)

Hosted by Cilla Black when it launched on ITV in 1985 this classic dating game could be argued to be the UK's original reality show.

After watching one contestant pick between three romantic hopefuls hidden behind a screen, viewers were on the edge of their seats to see them try to hide the disappointment on their face if their chosen date was not what they hoped for.

Our Cilla then caught up with them on her sofa a week later to watch the edited highlights of their holiday back and ask them if she needed to buy a new hat for the wedding. The show ran in various formats for 18 years and 22 series.

Celebrity Big Brother

Kirstie Alley is evicted and comes second during the Celebrity Big Brother final 2018 at Elstree Studios on September 10, 2018 in Borehamwood, England.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Kirstie Alley was runner-up on the final Celebrity Big Brother in 2018. (Getty Images)

Originally launched on BBC One in 2001 as a Comic Relief spin-off for charity, CBB soon eclipsed its Big Brother with two series running a year. With winners as varied as Jack Dee, Chantelle Houghton, Jim Davidson, Rylan, Gary Busey and Sarah Harding, the show managed 22 series before it last aired in 2018.

Big Brother

A view of the Big Brother logo on the house at Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.   (Photo by Rebecca Harley - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
At its peak it felt like everyone was watching Big Brother. (Getty Images)

Launching in 2000 on Channel 4, this was arguably the show that sparked a nation's love for hidden cameras recording contestants every move - from fighting and falling in love to arguing about shopping and picking their noses.

Big Brother moved to Channel 5 in 2011 and ran for 19 series in total.

Big Brother was based on a Dutch TV show, like The Traitors, which has just been commissioned for its second series after proving a hit with its debut on BBC One.

Love Island

Winter Love Island 2023
Love Island will air its ninth series this summer. (ITV)

The nation's current favourite reality show is set to air its ninth series this summer. Rather than putting a load of strangers in a house and hoping for drama - Love Island loves to stir it up. Flirting is must, covering up is discouraged and cat fights and canoodling are the main agenda.


The previous cast of a past series of popular show Shipwrecked. (Channel 4)
Shipwrecked might look like 00s Love Island but it had a very different agenda. (Channel 4)

Launched back in 2000 this Channel 4 show saw a load of young people stuck on an island. But it couldn't have been more different to Love Island - as contestants had to sweat it out building shelter, killing animals for food and competing against one another to win a cash prize. The show has managed eight series, with the last Battle Of The Islands airing in 2019.

Watch: TOWIE star Pete Wicks talks love and fame