Thursday, March 1, 2012

Don't Forget BBC Radio 4...

OK, where to begin...

In Wordaholics (which premiered February 20), an...exuberant...Gyles Brandreth plays host to four panelists. At the beginning of the show, these panelists are asked to give their answers to a question like "What word do you overuse the most?" or "What word should be banned from the English language?" This is followed by a round called "The Letter Of The Week" which begins with Gyles describing said letter as if it were a fashion model walking down the runway. "Here comes the wonderful letter Q! Oh, that  perfect round body that is beautifully complemented by the extra line..." If that sounds vaguely Sesame Street to you...well, it sounded vaguely Sesame Street to me too. The actual round then consists of the panelists having to define obscure words that begin with that letter.

A few more rotating rounds are played after that, most of which involve coming up with the definitions of unusual words of some form - for example, a "Name The Phobia" round in which Gyles gives a word like "dromophobia" and the panelists have to name what it's the fear of (for the record, dromophobia is the fear of crossing streets). Whatever category of words is being defined in each round, it is inevitably followed by the panelists making up their own words to fit that category, some of which sound like they came straight out of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Honestly, there isn't a whole lot more to say. There's nothing wrong with this show, but there's nothing to make it stand out from countless other BBC Radio 4 comedy panel game shows either. Believe me, I'm tired of typing that.

It's Not What You Know premiered three days later - Miles Jupp plays host to three panelists who have each nominated a friend or relative as their partner. The panelists must try to predict the answers their partners gave to a bunch of questions. Miles asks a question - which can be anything from "Where did you first meet?" to "Would you rather spend five minutes with God or a lifetime with George Clooney?" - and after the panelist makes his\her prediction, we hear his\her partner's prerecorded answer.

A few rounds are played like this, after which a round is played in which Miles reads a statement and the panelists much predict which of the prerecorded partners said it. There is also an occasional round featuring  a prerecorded celebrity guest who has no connection with any of the panelists. It's better than Wordaholics, and did make me laugh very hard at points - but as I said, I'm getting pretty tired of shows that are not particularly good or particularly bad.

As I always say, I'm being too critical - these are far from bad shows. Still, there are twenty-two shows listed on the Games And Quizzes section of BBC Radio 4's website, some of we haven't heard from in years. I seriously doubt either Wordaholics or It's Not What You Know will get very far.

Frankly, I won't miss them.


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