TV licensing survey reveals over 100 names for the TV remote, with viewers wielding the '˜Panic Button', '˜Fat Enhancer' and '˜Ronnie Remote'

In living rooms across Northern Ireland people use an extensive list of words to describe the remote control, a survey carried out by TV Licensing1 reveals.

Monday, 7th November 2016, 11:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:52 pm
What do you call it?
What do you call it?

The top moniker for remote control is simply ‘Remote’, with ‘Doofer’ or ‘Doofah’ in second place and ‘Zapper’ in third place. The survey also shows a marked increase in slang used across the country, with more than 100 regional variations identified. Names favoured in Northern Ireland were ‘Zapper’ and ‘Doofer’.

Spokesperson for TV Licensing Jonathon Kind suggested the broad array of terms reflected the diversity of UK communities and the change in the way people are watching TV.

“Three years ago, research identified around 50 pet names for the remote control2, but as the way we watch TV diversifies, it’s natural our language will adapt according to new behaviours and ways of watching.

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“You need to be covered by a licence if you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or if you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. This applies to any device you use.

“With TV companies looking to pioneer smartphone controlled apps, we’re likely to see the “remote” evolve even further over the coming years,” he said.

People are struggling to keep tabs on the location of their remotes, with one in three households now boasting at least four channel changers. Viewers in Northern Ireland are the most absent-minded in the United Kingdom, with over half of those surveyed misplacing it at least four times a year. Adults in the East Midlands, by contrast, are the UK’s most careful with over half claiming they haven’t lost their remote in the past 12 months3.

“As so many programmes are available on demand, it certainly can be difficult to agree on what to watch. Everyone in a household will have their own favourite programmes, and it is all about compromise.

“We would always prefer people to pay than risk a fine or prosecution. We offer a wide range of payment options to help spread the cost and suit people’s needs. These can all be set up quickly and easily online at or by phone on 0300 790 6113.”

The top 20 names for the remote control in 2016:

1. Remote (or The Remote)

2. Doofah (Doofer)

3. Zapper

4. Clicker

5. Flicker

6. Thing-a-ma-jig

7. Switcher

8. Whatcha-ma-call-it

9. The Controller (or The Controls)

10. Gizmo

11. Button (or Buttons)

12. Gadget

13. The Box (or TV Box)

14. The Changer

15. Dibber

16. Bleeper

17. Blipper (or Bleeper)

18. Doodah

19. Flipper

20. Plonker