Here is a little secret. I like watching TV quiz shows.
My current favourites are Pointless and Only Connect. But quite honestly I will watch almost any quiz show. Except celebrity Family Fortunes. Even the comedy ‘Uh-ah’ klaxon cannot make up for the cringey host (whose name I forget) and the awful relatives of those who are vaguely famous.
In my view there are several ingredients for a successful quiz show. Firstly a great host or hosts. Here is where Pointless has it for me. The combo of Alexander and Richard, the comedian and the nerd made famous, is killer.
But I also like stern hosts, like Jesser Paxman, avuncular hosts, such as him off Countdown and t’other one from Mastermind, funny hosts (see Pointless above), genial hosts, good old Dale, he of the orange fake tan (I know he is a plastic surgery car crash but I have fond student memories of watching Supermarket Sweep) and finally hosts who are easy on the eye.
Mmmmm, Nick Knowles, my secret, slightly worrying crush. I like to see him turned out in a suit on that Lottery list show (lists are soooo yummy). It makes a refreshing and slightly erotic change from his builder gear in DIY SOS. I often think Sky should have a ‘personality record’ function to run alongside its series record function. Then I would never miss anything with Nick Knowles in….Lists and Nick Knowles….life doesn’t really get much better.
Sorry I slipped off into a bit of a reverie there. Back on track now.
Back to quizzes (slightly reluctantly). There needs to be a good format. Recently there seems to have been a proliferation of really quite clever games shows. Back to Pointless again. To my mind the idea is simply, well simple, but ingenious.
In case you are one of a very few people left in the Western World who is not familiar with my favourite game show the general idea is to think of correct yet obscure answers to a wide range of different questions. Beforehand the show has asked 100 members of the public to answer the same questions. The idea is to try to get a pointless answer. That is a correct answer that none of those 100 people responded with.
So for instance imagine a question such as ‘Provide the name of any Muppet’. Kermit would be right but score highly. Swedish Chef less so. Etc. I would urge you to watch the show if you are still unsure. Or maybe you like being in a very small club…
Anything that involves asking members of the public anything is always a winner. It never ceases to amaze me that if you ask 100 members of the great British public a question such as ‘Name a famous French landmark’ the answer Eiffel Tower will not glean a score of 100. It would probably get 89. I always wonder what those 11 other people were thinking. Or if they were thinking at all. Scary.
There are other clever quiz shows out there. I like Tipping Point and Only Connect. Both new (well to me) and quite interesting.
One involves a giant shove tuppenny amusement arcade machine. With ridiculously easy and almost incidental questions. The fun is in whether the tokens will ‘ride’ and how many will fall off the edge. Many more than in all the seaside arcades I have ever been in.
The other is quite high brow with teams of physics graduates finding obscure connections whilst looking like they have strayed from the set of The IT Crowd. The hostess is buxom which probably appeals to those perpetual student types. Tonight I did appallingly on ‘Novels by Thomas Pynchon’ but much better on ‘BBC shows that have run for more than 25 years’. Probably signifying my level, intelligence wise, but also demonstrating the show’s wide appeal.
And so it helps a programme’s appeal if the questions are do-able, at least in part, at home. So really I shouldn’t like University Challenge (personal record 7 right answers in an episode….yep an episode) but I do in a kind of jaw dropping, awe inspired way. And anyway I love the scorn of Paxman. And get my fix of it there without having to sit through Question Time.
Similarly the first half of Mastermind is a dull view unless one of the contestants’ specialist subjects is something one knows anything about. The general knowledge round however sparks my interest (personal best 10 per round….per round). And a certain amount of competition between husband and I. I just cough loudly if any chemistry questions come up. My degree in the subject was a very, very long time ago.
And that brings me to celebrity versions of such shows. Well it doesn’t bring me to there really but hey I want to talk about them.
The producers would deny it but I am sure they dumb down the questions for those who are famous. Certainly I get more questions right on such shows. I do have trouble recognising most of the ‘celebrities’ though. Not always however. Geoffrey from Rainbow was on the other night. He was instantly recognisable even without Zippy and George. He had to sit down between rounds. Bless. Proper kids’ TV royalty though.
My favourite ever celebrity version of a show was one where Keith Harris and Orville formed a team on Pointless. The kids could not understand why they were at a massive disadvantage to the other couples taking part. They thought I was being ‘duckist’. I think as a team they got as far as the Head to Head round. Again incredibly funny.
So there you have it. I like quiz shows. What a lot of nonsense.
Sorry felt I had to put in some photos….