REMEMBER Watercolour Challenge? This Channel 4 show was for me a shining light among daytime television’s dreary offerings. It seems now to belong to a more innocent age, even though it was broadcast only 15 years ago. Jerry Springer certainly hadn’t arrived here in those gentler days, writes Martin Urmson.

In case you didn’t see the programme, each week three amateur artists were set a painting task and a guest judge picked a favourite to proceed in the competition.

Some of these guests had dubious credentials (Timmy Mallett! Yes, I know he paints, but have you seen how?), though in the main it was well-judged.

A motherly Hannah Gordon, presiding, cooed “lovely” rather too often, but it was an educational experience, and charming and soothing at the same time.

Midweek afternoons weren’t very convenient for me so I religiously taped the show each week.

Eventually I had a stack of videos, but no longer any machine to play them. Ah, progress!

So I have prayed for its return, forlornly until now.

Because someone over at the BBC has been listening, and soon The Big Painting Challenge will be showing on prime time BBC One.

I imagine the makers will have studied Watercolour Challenge while putting this series together, though the press blurb certainly doesn’t say so, and there are some differences.

These artists will have to demonstrate mastery of various media: oils, charcoal and chalk included. The hosts are Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon, with a couple of professional artists to back them up, and there will be an exhibition at Tate Britain at the end of it.

This all sounds great and I look forward to seeing it. And yet…and yet, I’m suffering from a surfeit of competitions. I worry that we are becoming infantilised, and without winners, losers and moments of dramatic suspense our attention can’t be held for an hour or so.

I have personal experience of prize competitions as an organiser which gave me some insight.

I decided, for all the usual reasons, to give a £500 prize to the winner of our Photogram Open competition last year.

It ensured we got lots of free publicity, certainly worth more than the prize money, and we even got entries from the USA and European countries which we weren’t expecting.

There was no submission fee, so no ‘lottery’ aspect to the prize, and I appointed a respected external judge.

I did all the right things, but there came the day when I had to stand up in front of a room full of deserving winners and announce just one name.

It felt like the most facile and irrelevant aspect to the whole show.