Magazine article The Spectator

Shocking Business

Magazine article The Spectator

Shocking Business

Article excerpt

Well. I did have loads of interesting things to say about Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? but I notice that Simon Hoggart has covered most of them so I'll just confine myself to a few niggling annoyances.

Annoyance number one. That deputy head teacher from a secondary school: I can just about understand his not knowing that Charles Kennedy is the head of the Liberal Democrats (God knows, it's nice to find a state school teacher who isn't rampantly political) but how ignorant do you have to be not to know that the person who was declared 'infallible' at the end of the 19th century was the Pope? I'm sure I would have got that question right when I was 12 and I'm not Catholic or anything.

Annoyance number two. The questions: they're so sodding unfair. That's not to say that most of the time, most of us couldn't piss our way to that million quid. Those of us who did Latin, for example, wouldn't have agonised too long before deciding that a formicary' was where ants live. But then they throw in something totally evil like `What is gas mark 6 expressed in fahrenheit?' That's not general knowledge. That's not even home economist's knowledge. It's just wanton sadism. (Also, that 50/50 option's a total con: it always gets rid of the two answers you knew were never in the running.)

Annoyance number three. The total waste of life that the programme entails. Even on those evenings when you vow you're going to find something better to do, you invariably end up watching just in case it's the night somebody wins the million. But for every minute of excitement, there's another ten of dead time as Chris Tarrant goes through his annoying, fake tensionbuilding routine. You'd think the answer would be to watch it on video and fast forward, but I've tried and it's just boring. The annoying bits are what make it work.

Mainly, though, the thing I wanted to talk about this week was The Sopranos. Since it started, lots of people have been asking my professional opinion and I've had to say, 'Er, sorry. It's a bit embarrassing really, but I missed the first few episodes and I thought it was a bit late now to try catching up. Anyway, it's not that good is it?' And they go, `Yes. It is.'

So what I've been doing is working my way through a pile of Sopranos vids that someone had at the Telegraph. Irritatingly, I'm missing episode four which is the one after Junior's boys attempt to put the frighteners on Tony's mob by performing a fake execution on Christopher and I'd quite like to know how Tony chooses to make his displeasure known. …

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