Category Archives: Quiz

‘Was It Something I Said?’ (Channel 4) Review

Hosted by David Mitchell, Was It Something I Said? tests its participants’ verbiage mettle by having them identify the creator of various quotes, taken from sources as varied as tweets, autobiographies and sometimes even their own comedy routines.

There’s been quite a bit of publicity surrounding this new show, with a barrage of trailers and David Mitchell himself appearing on shows such as This Morning and Chatty Man to attract viewers. Was it all worth it? Not quite, but it was far from a bad start.

Let’s be honest, it’s no surprise that Was It Something I Said? was publicised so much. It is, after all, the first panel show in the world to allow viewers to play along at home on Twitter, despite it not being recorded live. As is the trouble with a lot of shows, however, it did lead to a lot of high expectations, and mine weren’t quite met, unfortunately. It was in no way bad – on the contrary it was a confident, promising start – but it didn’t see as many quick quips and off-the-cuff gags which I was led to believe it would.

I’m still expecting great things from Was It Something I Said?, however, as the threesome that is David Mitchell and team captains Micky Flanagan and Richard Ayoade is simply a dream, with all of them bringing something very different to the show. As the host, David brings his authoritative, somewhat deadpan style, Micky delivers his trademark Cockney charm and Richard is…well he’s just a dumbed-down version of his IT Crowd character, isn’t he? I was glad to see that he had brought with him some of his awkwardness, dryness and general objections to what he sees as the unnecessary and trivial things in life, as seen during his appearances on shows such as A League of Their Own and the many Big Fat Quizzes.

One aspect of the show that I was less pleased with, though, was the incorporation of Twitter. Now, yes, I was relieved to see that it wasn’t the prime focus (a couple of mentions by David at the beginning were ample to remind the viewers that the interactive element existed) but it didn’t seem to work very well. I tweeted two answers during the show, one of which I actually managed to get right – thanks to a very lucky guess, I should add. When I logged onto my online scorecard on the Channel 4 website at the end of the show, however, I was greeted by David Mitchell telling me that I’d done badly, and apparently scored a measly 0/1. Obviously it’s only a petty, pretty insignificant, criticism, but it does emphasise the fact that the Twitter element needs some revision.

 

The Twitter incident aside (I wanted that point added onto my score next week, Channel 4!), I did enjoy Was It Something I Said? – albeit not quite as much as I thought I would. I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining series, though.

And you can quote me on that.

Image credits: Thanks to Channel 4, Mark Johnson, Maverick Television and That Mitchell & Webb Company

Was It Something I Said? is on Sundays at 10pm on Channel 4

An extended edition of the show is also on on Friday nights

What did you think of Was It Something I Said? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

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‘Big Star’s Little Star’ (ITV) Review

Big Star’s Little Star sees Catchphrase host Stephen Mulhern invite three celebrities and their children to play for a possible prize of £15,000 for a charity of their choice. But what do they have to do to win such money?

Well, after we as viewers have mastered the Stars in Their Eyes-style guessing game as to who the eponymous ‘big stars’ are, they must go through three Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the adult is asked a question – more often than not about their child’s opinion on them – and their answer must match that of their ‘little star’, and which will invariably cause them embarrassment. Whichever parent and child team has the most points at the end of the three rounds progresses to the final, where they have an allotted time to play a game of pairs, with the pictures representing an aspect of their lives – be it a family member, hobby or something related to their job. For each pair they match correctly, they win £1,000. As they already have £5,000 guaranteed, they must match all ten pairs in order to win the £15,000 jackpot.

It’s slightly similar to Ronnie Corbett’s quiz show, Small Talk – except in Big Star’s Little Star the parents are present and they stand a chance of winning £15,000 for charity, instead of theatre tickets for themselves…

A TRIUMPH

The big stars in this opening episode were: EastEnders actress Nina Wadia and her son, Aidan; Two Pints actor Will Mellor and his daughter, Renee; and pop star Jamelia and her daughter, Tiani. The kids were brilliantly cute and the adults were perfectly game, and a lovely sense of camaraderie developed between Nina, Will and Jamelia as they sat cringing due to the embarrassing truths that(L-R) Nina and Aidan, Will and Renee, and Jamelia and Tiani their darling offspring were revealing to the nation, and they all laughed along and look at each other as if to say, ‘We’re all in the same boat here.’

Of course, the whole point of making this show was to see celebrities embarrassed and have secrets revealed about them which they wish had been kept between the four walls of home, and in that respect, Big Star’s Little Star triumphed. Over the course of an hour we learned that Nina Wadia tells her son that she’s 24, Prince William once held Will Mellor back in ‘a scuffle’ (actually I was just surprised to hear that he even knew Will’s name – clearly a Broadchurch fan) and that Jamelia relaxes on the toilet – but doesn’t do ‘a number two’. I think there are a lot of critics who would argue with that, having seen her on I Love My Country.

The only criticism I really have of Big Star’s Little Star is that it sometimes needed a bit of a kick up the backside – it was often quite slow in pace, and was a bit more fun when the kids were on-Jamelia's daughter, Tiani screen, rather than cooped up in the toy-filled VIP lounge. However, I know that the show would have felt a hell of a lot slower without Stephen Mulhern, who brought along his quick wit and slick presenting techniques from Catchphrase and More Talent and provided many fantastic moments throughout. Having worked with kids on CITV and Britain’s Got More Talent, he was perfect to host this show but also created more than a few risqué moments, too – but none so risqué that it prevented Big Star’s Little Star from firmly fitting the ‘family entertainment’ bill. I’m sure that, just like the little stars in the studio, most kids watching wouldn’t have understood why the thought of Zainab from EastEnders tying up her husband was so funny…

I thought Big Star’s Little Star was great family entertainment, and probably even good enough to be given a Saturday night slot. I’m sure it’d be more popular than Stepping Out. For now, though, it’s sitting quite comfortably on Wednesday night, and I for one think it’s nice that ITV have a bit of light and shade in their schedules, as Whitechapel followed immediately after. I think a lot of young viewers will have been sent to bed at 9:00pm sharp.

Images courtesy of ITV and Nicky Johnson, ©ITV

Big Star’s Little Star is on Wednesdays at 8:00pm on ITV

What did you think of Big Star’s Little Star? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Through the Keyhole’ (ITV) Review

If you despise Keith Lemon, now really is not a time to be staying on to watch the telly. With Celebrity Juice having just begun its eleventh series and his revival of Through the Keyhole landing on ITV tonight, it looks like Leigh Francis’s irrepressible alter-ego is here to stay for quite a while.

Fans of the original series, fronted by the late Sir David Frost until 2008, will have been relieved to see that the format has remained relatively unchanged. Apart from a jazzy new set and edgier presenter, the concept is the same: a celebrity panel watch a VT (‘that stands for video tape’) of a tour around a mystery star’s home, with various clues scattered throughout the video, and attempt to decipher, with the help of the audience, who lives in a house like that. As with the best gameshows, it’s such a simple concept which makes for an entertaining and long-running show.

Stepping into the shoes of Frost and Loyd Grossman, and preparing to make their show “rudererer”, was Celebrity Juice host, Keith Lemon, and answering the question ‘’Oo ‘abitates in an ‘ouse like this’ this week were the usual panel show fodder of Eamonn Holmes, Martine McCutcheon and Through the Keyhole regular, Dave Berry.

QUITE ENJOYABLE’

I expected to dislike this revival. With the ghosts of Sing if You Can and LemonAid still haunting ITV viewers, it would be fair to say that the channel took something of a punt on getting Keith Lemon onboard to host it but it appears that they may just have found the ideal format – outside of ITV2 – for him.

You see the truth is that Through the Keyhole is quite an enjoyable show. For once there’s no prize involved – be it novelty or otherwise – and no scoring system to result in a panellist being crowned that episode’s champion: it’s just a fun little game – albeit one which would be made more enjoyable if we were allowed to play along, and the audience and viewers weren’t given the correct answer so quickly.

Granted, it’s not the 55 minutes of non-stop laughs that ITV might have us believe (as a gameshow, none of the magic has been lost, whereas as a comedy, next-to-no magic has been created) but there is a certain charm to Through the Keyhole which, try as I may, I simply cannot deny. I think I’ve inherited my nosiness from my mam (who, if a neighbour’s house is up for sale, can’t resist going on the estate agent’s website and having a look at their kitchen and bathroom) so I relished seeing how many shoes Louis Smith had, how messy (a somewhat slimmer) John Prescott’s book shelves were, and what was inside Duncan from Blue’s wardrobe. Usually you have to pay for a copy of Hello! magazine for that sort of access – but ITV are generously giving us it for free.

A WISE DECISION’

Keith is also surprisingly palatable as a host. The reason why most people love him on Celebrity Juice is that he can be as rude and crude as he likes – and astonishingly gets away with it – because that’s just the character. He is a very crude person. It also helps that it’s post-10pm ITV2, of course. Conversely, the reason why most people hated him on the aforementioned Sing If You Can and LemonAid is that they were scheduled at such a time on ITV that he just couldn’t get away with saying nearly half of the stuff that he does on Juice and the like. People love Keith when he’s being rude, and ITV have made a very wise decision in putting Keyhole in a post-watershed slot so that, while a few F-words have to be censored, Leigh Francis can get away with saying a bit more than he usually would and therefore comes across as a much better host – or rather the character does.

And for those who will continue to slate Keith as Keyhole’s host (for there will be many), just remember that Sir David Frost, who was at the show’s helm for over twenty years and still partly owns the rights to the format, attended the recording of the revival’s pilot, and gave his blessing for it to go ahead. And be honest: could you possibly argue with David Frost? I mean, it didn’t do Richard Nixon much good, did it?

So I was pleasantly surprised by Through the Keyhole. Whereas Julia Raeside warned Guardian readers, ‘Whatever you do, don’t peer Through the Keyhole,’ I thought it was a very good successor for the original series, and a great way to round off ITV’s (relatively) strong Saturday night line-up.

Through the Keyhole is on Saturday nights on ITV

What did you think of Through the Keyhole? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘That Puppet Game Show’ (BBC1) Review

What happens when you chuck some larger-than-life puppets, bewildered celebrities and madcap challenges into a Saturday night, primetime slot on the BBC? You end up with the unexpectedly good That Puppet Game Show.

A SURPRISE

When I wrote my preview of this show on Friday, I had only seen a few quick clips – and wasn’t particularly impressed by what I saw. I wrote, ‘Everything tells me that it will be a car crash – Time Out gave it a one-star review last week – but I hope I’m proved wrong. I suppose that after Don’t Scare the Hare (which was axed in 2011, just 2/3 through its run) we have come to assume that anything frivolous and involving non-human presenters is destined for failure.’ My dubiety could also have been owing to the critical mauling that BBC1’s other entertainment show, I Love My Country  came in for when it began its run last week.

I was, however, really surprised to find that That Puppet Game Show is actually funny! It just works so well as an entertainment show: the puppets all have individual personalities and Dougie Colon (pronounced ‘Cologne’) is the archetypal, slightly cheesy, Saturday night host. It’s not cruel in any way, no one gets hurt (well, Rob Brydon’s ego might have taken a bit of a bruising) and there’s plenty there for both kids and adults to enjoy: it truly is great family-friendly television.

The rounds are very well-formed and typically silly, too. My particular favourite was Life’s a Speech – overseen by That Puppet Game Show’s resident showbiz expert, Amber O’Neill. It involved this week’s star guests, Jonathan Ross and Katherine Jenkins, accepting an award (for Best Banter and Pride of Wales, respectively) and reading a speech from an autocue – but with blanks. They each had to fill in the blanks in their speech by drawing on their general knowledge to name things like the highest mountain in Wales, the seven continents of the world and the three nations who won the most medals at the 2012 Olympics. And Katherine did really well – she seemed to know a lot! Jonathan, on the other hand? Well…let’s just say that there’s going to be something of an awkward atmosphere the next time Rob Brydon – or ‘That one in the middle’ from Would I Lie to You? – is on Wossy’s sofa.

SKETCHY

Despite my love of That Puppet Game Show, I’m not a fan of every aspect. The behind-the-scenes  sketches, which see the puppets talking to each other and the producer in the gallery, production   office, etc. are just weak. They spoil the show for me. I would have been content watching Jonathan and Katherine compete in the ridiculous games of the main show – and I’m sure lots of the other viewers would have been, too. Instead, though, we had to sit through these sketches which, while involving an admittedly clever plot, weren’t particularly funny or engaging. In fact, towards the end I stopped paying attention to them.

That Puppet Game Show can survive quite well on its own. It is a good, entertaining show without these behind-the-scenes interruptions. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to incorporate each episode’s plot – which this week was the impending sacking of one of the members of the team – into the programme, with the puppets alluding to it throughout – just as Clyde the Crab did at one point. That way, there’d still be more than one element to the show but we wouldn’t have this switch between the games and sketches.

 

Being from The Jim Henson Company – the team behind The Muppets, Bear in the Big Blue House and Fraggle Rock – there was a lot riding on That Puppet Game Show and, on the whole I loved it, and it seems that other people do, too. Well, it’s been received more warmly than I Love My Country, at least.

Images courtesy of BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC

That Puppet Game Show is on Saturdays at 6:45pm on BBC1

What did you think of That Puppet Game Show? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘I Love My Country’ (BBC1) Review

Hosted by Gabby Logan, and with team captains Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan, I Love My Country sets out to celebrate everything that makes Britain great by quizzing celebrity guests on subjects ranging from geography to history and popular culture.

THE WORST OF BRITAIN?

Before this show even aired, it had come in for criticism. For some ridiculous reason, Frank Skinner recently had to defend his involvement and make it plain that the show is not an advert for UKIP. There were also allusions to David Walliams – the show’s original host – having had a lucky escape when he left to concentrate on his new sitcom and the Independent’s Adam Sherwin rebuked it, claiming, ‘[I Love My Country] is so thoroughly, idiotically inane, it could well be the worst entertainment offering that the corporation has yet dredged up for the edification of Saturday night viewers.’ Not exactly a glowing review.

Now, I have to admit, I was far too fixated by the Your Face Sounds Familiar final well, Matt Johnson, if I’m honest – to watch I Love My Country when it actually aired. However, among the Twitter users commending Xander Armstrong on his performance as SuBo and urging others to boycott #TwitterSilence, there was a smattering of people demanding to know how the BBC dared squander the licence fee payers’ money on the patriotic rubbish they saw on their screens. Mirror columnist Ian Hyland said that after watching I Love My Country he felt ‘more Irish than ever’ and The Sun’s Colin Robertson tweeted, ‘If anyone ever wondered why David Walliams pulled out of hosting I Love My Country, just turn on BBC1 right now.’

BIT OF A LAUGH

Before you read what I have to say about this show, please let me make it plain that I know I’m in a minority…

I really enjoyed it! When I gave the first episode of Your Face Sounds Familiar a favourable review, at a time when lots of others were branding it the worst  Saturday night show ever made, I said that I’m very wary of the current want to find high-brow, straightforward Saturday night entertainment. Nowadays, people don’t seem to want Splash! or Hole in the Wall. Instead, they’re crying out either for quiz shows such as In It to Win It or gripping dramas, like ITV’s The Americans. But what’s wrong with a bit of weekend fun on the telly? Yes, I Love My Country forces jollity upon its viewers, audience and participants, yes its running-time  should be halved, yes it’s an in-your-face, loud show – but so what? Don’t we need a bit of that? Don’t we need Susanna Reid identifying the theme tune to Challenge Anneka? Don’t we need Frank Skinner identifying Lickey End on a map of the British Isles, aided by a large Yorkshire pudding? I’d argue that we do.

Everyone on I Love My Country is brilliant. As the host, Gabby doesn’t just stand back and oversee proceedings, she gets involved and caught up in the moment, which is great to see – so many presenters nowadays refrain from joining in with the games on their shows, and therefore don’t come across as well as some of the other participants. Thankfully Gabby does, though. Then we have the very well-matched Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan: they have a similar style, allowing them to bounce off each other throughout the programme. It also helps that they are presumably friends: for years, Frank has been saying in interviews that Micky is his favourite circuit performer – and was doing so at a time before the comic’s analyses of the intricacies of ‘out out’ and ‘the Cockney walk’ had entered the mainstream. Who’d have thought Jamelia would be a valuable asset to the show, as well? A favourite on programmes such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You?, Jamelia not only heads up the I Love My Country house band but also makes her mark on the show by interjecting during rounds, responding to something which one of the panellists has said and even bantering with Frank.

The guest panellists seem only to be there to exhibit their knowledge of Britain and its customs, and to provide Frank and Micky with opportunities to gently mock them. Casualty’s Charlotte Salt came in for a particular ribbing in the opening episode, with puns aplenty being made about her surname.

 

So I thought I Love My Country was fun and enjoyable. Those involved knew what sort of show they wanted to make and they succeeded with it, in my opinion. It was funny, it celebrated some of our British traditions and had all of the unabashed frivolity of a bloody good Saturday night vehicle. I think we can all agree that Frank Skinner and Gabby Logan should stop dancing though, right?

Images courtesy of BBC and Avalon. © Avalon

I Love My Country is on Saturdays at 7:30pm on BBC1

What did you think of I Love My Country? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy’ (GOLD) Review

After endless trails across the UKTV network, Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy finally began on Sunday and appeared to be in a similar vain to Channel 4’s Comedy World Cup, just with fewer participants, questions and, dare I say it, laughs.

A FEW LAUGHS’

The panellists (who had swapped panels for sofas) did raise a few laughs but they were too sparse. I know that the team captains, Barry Cryer and Rebecca Front, are more than qualified to answer questions on comedy, which is basically what, as its title suggests, Great Wall of Comedy is all about. After all, Barry Cryer has written for a plethora of comedy legends: Frankie Howerd, Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett, Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies – the list goes on and on – while Rebecca is seldom absent from a sitcom nowadays, whether its Psychobitches, Grandma’s House, Nighty Night or, more notably, The Thick of It. What I’m saying is that both are definitely big names in British comedy. However, I’d like to have seen a more contemporary comedian accompanying them on the show. Rebecca often offered humorous witticisms but it was mainly left to the others – Hugh Dennis, (soon to be Sir) Tony Robinson, Barry and host Jo – to keep the jokes going, primarily through anecdotes from their time in sitcoms. Plus, it did make me cringe slightly when watching Tony and Barry, 66 and 78, respectively, crack jokes about popular culture and The Only Way is Essex. I’ll never get over hearing Barry Cryer utter the word’ vajazzle’!

GREAT ANECDOTES’

There were some laughs to be had in the show, however, and, as I said, most of those came from the great, and hitherto unheard, anecdotes from sitcom stars such as Lesley Joseph, Andrew Sachs and Shaun ‘Barry off EastEnders’ Williamson (whose dancing with Stephen Merchant in previously unseen footage from Extras was brilliant). For comedy fans like myself (and I’m sure every other viewer of GOLD) it was great to be privy to these behind-the-scenes stories – some we’d heard, and some he hadn’t.

The questions, while kept to a minimum, tested the knowledge of not just those on the show but the viewers, too. I’m ashamed that I got a question about Fawlty Towers wrong but can take solace in the fact that neither of the teams answered it correctly, either. In fact, neither did they when asked questions about Birds of a Feather and Extras.

MIRANDA NEED NOT WORRY…

Now in one of the rounds in Great Wall of Comedy, the panellists were asked to pitch ideas for sitcoms, so I decided to join in and create five myself – and if you think these are bad, I daren’t tell you what Rebecca, Hugh, Tony and Barry offered!

All Gas and Waiters

A sitcom about someone waiting for an npower representative to arrive at their house.

Father Teddy

A sitcom about the patriarch in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The Nicker of Dibley

A sitcom about a thief in a fictional Oxfordshire village.

Early Whores

A sitcom about prostitutes with bad timekeeping skills.

The Wright Way

A sitcom that shows that Ben Elton is no longer funny.

 

Great Wall of Comedy seems to be at home on GOLD. It doesn’t provide the huge belly laughs to warrant it being broadcast on a terrestrial channel (but then again, neither did the latter sitcom in my list!) but is ideal for comedy fans and can be quite interesting – although I’m sure there’s already a panel show which fits that description.

Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy is on Sundays at 7:30pm on GOLD

What did you think of Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.