If you want instant commentary about what’s on TV, there’s no better place to go than Twitter. From the highest praise to downright savagery, every hour of every day you can read soundbite reviews in 140 characters or fewer. With the aid of various tweets, here’s a run-down of what people have been saying about TV – and in particular the quiz show genre – in the week ending 13th January 2013 (more or less).
He looks kinda familiar …
It’s not often I can point at the TV and shout “I know him/her!” – at least, not without telling a gigantic porky. If you’ve read my top 10 of 2012 post, you’ll know that BBC4’s Only Connect is the best quiz show currently on TV. But don’t just take my word for it.
Bonus Only Connect on BBC4. Think the Champions League for quiz geeks #onlyconnect—
Ben Murray (@rubym83) January 07, 2013
Last week saw a Champion of Champions special which pitted the most recent winners, the Scribes, against 2011 champions, the Analysts, whose captain is a friend from my university days. (You can follow him on Twitter @redarsedbaboon.)
But it wasn’t just me who thought he looked familiar.
Tonight's team captain for The Analysts - a thumb. #OnlyConnect—
r/indiecinema (@rindiecinema) January 07, 2013
Separated at birth? You decide.
Sadly the Analysts lost in a close-fought match. And, yes, William De Ath’s surname has been a source of much humour during their time on the programme. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
And another vowel, please, Rachel
Let me just say this now: I hate The Weakest Link. Hate it with a fire that consumes my soul. To me it represents the ultimate dumbing down of populist quizzes: slapdash, poorly constructed questions that a six-year old would be ashamed to get wrong. Give me University Challenge any day, even if it means watching Cambridge graduate Jeremy
Paxman Smug-man and his overt anti-Oxford bias.
But there are other great quizzes out there. Countdown, the first programme ever to be transmitted on Channel 4, is still going strong having passed its 30th birthday last November. The show is celebrating with its own ultimate Champion of Champions series which started last week, bringing back the best contestants from the last 30 years for the ultimate vowel-and-consonant bunfight.
For some, the birth of their first child is their greatest personal achievement. For others it is passing a tough exam or getting their dream job. Bunkum. This is the ultimate accolade.
You can keep your celeb tweeters. I'm being followed by @C4Countdown. My life has peaked.—
Steve Downes (@stevedownes1973) January 08, 2013
One man’s trivia is another man’s Pointless
I only catch it occasionally, but I am also rather partial to an episode of Pointless, the quiz show where contestants must not only aim to answer questions correctly, but identify answers which as few people as possible (out of 100 surveyed) have provided. The ideal response is one which earns no points – hence the show’s title – but is fiendishly difficult to achieve. It completely transforms even the most routine of questions. Anyone can name a Charlize Theron film, for instance, but can you name one that 100 other people couldn’t?
Pointless has been running for just over three years, but continues to grow in popularity.
Biggest ever ratings for regular, non-celeb #Pointless last night. Thank you all so much! Xxx—
Richard Osman (@richardosman) January 04, 2013
(Yes, I know the tweet is actually from the week before last and not last week. Deal with it.)
Richard Osman, by the way, is Alexander Armstrong’s co-presenter – he’s the guy behind the laptop. He is also the creative director of Endemol UK and has executive produced shows such as Deal or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. Incidentally, Osman and Armstrong went to Trinity College, Cambridge together, and his brother Mat is the bassist in the band Suede. Now how’s that for a bit of pointless Pointless trivia?
In last week’s column, I noted that BBC1’s new Saturday evening quiz Britain’s Brightest had received what can only be charitably described as a lukewarm reception. Personally I thought it had potential, but that was based on watching only the last ten minutes or so of the programme. I reserved final judgement until I had a chance to watch a full episode this weekend. My conclusion? I should never judge a programme based on watching only the last ten minutes ever again. It was mind-numbingly, snore-inducingly, insert-you-own-description-hereingly awful. It was like someone who had once been locked up with a bunch of primary school teachers and forced to play parlour games while listening to an album of Des O’Connor’s Greatest Hits on infinite repeat had somehow managed to earn a commission to adapt the idea for TV. Only it wasn’t that good. It really should have been called Britain’s Dumbest.
Here’s what Mark Labbett of ITV game show The Chase had to say, and I find it hard to disagree:
problem with a title like #britainsbrightest is that you expect incredible contestants, not merely ok ones—
Mark Labbett (@MarkLabbett) January 12, 2013
I admit it: I am an idiot, and to the literally single-digits worth of people I recommended the show to last week, I am eternally sorry and please don’t listen to my TV tips ever again. (Although I do recommend the new Yes, Prime Minister on Gold which starts next week.)
And with that, I am declaring myself the weakest link. Goodbye. (Until next week, obviously.)