Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Question of Taste - certainly is

Yesterday was only the second day of the year, yet already we’ve had a new quiz show enter the lists as a contender for the 2012 LAMMY for best new quiz show of the year. Is it a serious contender though ? Well . . .

A Question of Taste, new on BBC2 yesterday, fits snugly within the same sort of niche as BBC2’s own Antiques Master. In the same way that Antiques Master is a specialist quiz show about the world of antiques, AQOT is a specialist quiz about the world of food and drink. Like Antiques Master it’s potentially quite an elitist show, which goes some way to try and make itself of interest to members of its audience who have no specialist knowledge of the subject. The upshot of it is that like Antiques Master it’s a show that’s not entirely comfortable in its own skin. Well, that’s my reading of it anyway.

Basically 2 teams of three people compete against each other in several rounds. As in “A Question of Sport” there’s a variety of different rounds. First of all we had the more ‘pure’ quiz of the buzzer round. Then a video round, whereby teams were shown part of a TV food programme of years gone by, and then they had to deduce which word had been blanked out. In another round both teams were given a list of items, and asked to pick out five. For example, we were given 12 vegetables, and asked to say which 5 had originated in South America. We finished off with buzzer questions again.

As a quiz on one of my weaker subjects I found it entertaining enough. Kirsty Wark doesn’t irritate – which is pretty much what you want from a presenter. There’s a point as well. Last time we saw Kirsty presenting a quiz show it was “A Question of Genius”. That show lasted for a couple of series, but never quite gained enough critical mass to earn a loyal audience base. Personally I thought that a fussy format and gimmicky rounds were responsible for that, but that’s just my opinion. Kirsty wark, with her Newsnight background, gives a show a feeling of being a little more serious. She's got a ready enough smile, but she doesn't do frivolous that well.I noticed too that the show has it's own expert, William Sitwell, sat behind a computer screen a la Richard Osman on Pointless. I found his interjections rather irritating if I'm honest, and they did tend to hold up the show. If there's a second series I'd venture to suggest that he may well be surplus to requirements.

I can understand the programme makers saying – cookery is still very big business. Just witness the popularity of Jamie, Delia, Masterchef and the Great British Bake off. If we make a quiz based on food and drink, then there’s a good chance it might catch on. Maybe it will. But, I don’t know. I can’t help wondering whether it’s too quizzy for people who like cookery, and not quizzy enough for people who like quizzes. As I’ve said before, things which fall between two stools often end up falling. Still, let’s be scrupulously fair. This has more of the real quiz about it than our comparison piece, Antiques Master. It has no annoying voiceover woman. It has more straight questions. All of which means that it’s an amiable enough quiz, and might be worth looking in on if you’ve nothing much better to do.


DanielFullard said...

I was interested in this as Food is one of my weakest areas and if I can learnt a few titbits of information per show its worth it for me. Wark seems very uncomfortable presenting but at least theres some variety in the rounds, albeit not much originality, but in all I enjoyed it and will be watching again. By no way one of the better quiz shows on TV but theres enough there to keep me watching for noe

Londinius said...

Hi Daniel

Yeah, I mean, it's a decent enough little show for what it is, but I stick with what I say about it seeming a little uncomfortable in its own skin. Your point about Kirsty wark is very telling. I mean, either it's a lighthearted populist quiz, or a serious, rather elitist, highbrow quiz. There's a place for both of these, and neither need feel at all ashamed of being what they are. But it needs to make up its mind which of these it really wants to be.

Damian said...

A few production problems with the show: The pictures of the food to be identified are too small for the tv audience to see easily and are not on screen long enough as tv viewers are switched over intermittently to see the contestants (not done on UC or OC). Then schoolboy errors of things like showing the scores of the two teams moments before William Sitwell is asked to advise the final scores. I too like the show and think it could go into a second series, but needs an expert quiz show team to produce it.