Magazine article The Spectator

In Deep Water

Magazine article The Spectator

In Deep Water

Article excerpt

What a strange organisation the BBC is! Imagine the meeting at which they discussed the cancellation of Hole in the Wall , the world's most mindless game show. It didn't have terrible ratings, but was stoned to death by jeering critics and Harry Hill's mockery.

'Gentlemen, I am delighted to inform you, ' says HOCMIGS, (head of commissioning, mindless game shows), 'that we have found a replacement even more mindless, more tooth-furringly, goose-bumpingly dreadful than Hole .'

A rather odd individual at the end of the table squeaks up. 'I hope it means dropping people into cold water. I do like seeing people dropped into cold water. Hurr, hurr.'

'It involves, ' says HOCMIGS, 'little else.

Contestants will have to answer mind-numbingly dull questions, such as "which of these animals did not feature on Blue Peter ?" and "which of these titles is not a magazine on sale in Britain?" ' (The answer turned out to be What Patio?

Somebody was paid to think this up for prime-time television. ) All the contestants are strapped to something - elastic bands, a bike, a spherical cage - on top of an 80-foot platform.

The one with the wrong boring answer is dropped into a pool of cold water, just like in Hole in the Wall , only from higher up. Then they show the drop several times - as if it were the goal scored in the World Cup final.

'So, we get a couple of dozen dunkings in one hour!' says HOCMIGS. 'Hurr, hurr, ' says the pervert in the corner.

Something like that must have happened, or else 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show (BBC1, Saturday) would never have got past somebody's cheese-induced nightmare. It combines stupidity, tedium, complete lack of tension, and, to judge from the kit they've built, considerable expense - though they have certainly saved on the presenter, a creepy, huggy-feely unknown called Steve Jones, no relation to the celebrated geneticist.

Then the same BBC comes up with the perfectly serviceable That Mitchell & Webb Look , which includes a sketch about a postnuclear-apocalypse mindless game show, in which the host, possibly modelled on Steve Jones - the TV host, not the geneticist - gives an unwelcome hug to one of the contestants and, in the ingratiating manner that says, 'Unlike you poor sods, I'm getting paid to be here, ' inquires, 'Are you nervous? …

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