I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but way back in the mists of time when I was about 12, one evening, a propos of nothing my Dad suddenly announced that he was going to apply for us to go on “Ask The Family” – us being him, my brother who was a year older – still is for that matter – and my mum. As for my brother who was a year younger (again . . . ) he was out of luck. Well, he never carried through with this threat or this promise, which was probably a good thing, since the only way he would have been likely to have shone would have involved being asked a specialist round on Old Holborn and Autumn Gold cider. I mention this again since I’m sure I’ve often said in the past that one of the quiz shows I’d most like to see returning is Ask the Family. All of which brings me to Sky TV’s Relatively Clever.
Well, since I’ve started with the comparison, let’s have a comparison between the two shows. Ask the Family was a terrific show which pitted nice middle class families of Dad, Mum, older child and younger child against each other in a variety of rounds – some puzzles, some general knowledge. It lasted just a little less than half an hour, and was presented by witty, dry old Robert Robinson. Well, there were revivals, but the one worth talking about was Robert Robinson’s. Now, if you’re going to model yourself on an old quiz show, there’s a lot worse inspirations than you can choose from. There are similarities between Relatively Speaking and Ask the Family, but they are not as closely related as last year’s The Guess List was to Blankety Blank, by way of comparison. For one thing, grandparents are now part of the equation. Well, as a double granddad myself now (that’s a granddad with two grandchildren, as opposed to a great granddad ) I’m all for that.
The show is an hour long, which I suppose is par for the course for something they decide to put on at 8pm on a Friday evening. I don’t know that there will ever be a big prime time quiz success again, and if there is I doubt that it will be on Sky, and I doubt very much that it will bear much similarity to a quiz like Relatively Speaking. This is not to say that it’s a bad show – it isn’t at all bad. But for me, it’s a 30 – 45 minute tea time show, blown a little out of its more realistic proportions. It’s a shame that this will probably kill it, since you never know, on a terrestrial channel, earlier in the evening, and with a shorter running time it could well gain its own following.
As for the show itself, well, there was a mixture of rounds, all of which were knowledge based, but some of which were more slightly cryptic than others. In ATF, nobody ever had to face an individual question, but there would be questions specifically directed to mother and older child, or father and younger child. In place of that there are 4 specialist rounds, and each member of the family goes head to head with one of their opposite number on these rounds. One of the rounds involved the teams trying to get four answers in a set – each member of the team producing one answer of the set without conferring with the others – for example the names of the 4 mutant ninja turtles. The final round, as it should be, was a quickfire round. In other words, this was something of an old fashioned quiz, and none the worse for it either.
It wasn’t perfect. Mel Giedroyc isn’t one of my favourite TV personalities. Sorry, Mel, but I find yours and Sue Perkins’ constant inane interruptions the worst feature of The Great British Bake Off. She was perfectly adequate in this, but you know me, if you’re not a wit on a par with Robert Robinson, or Steven Fry, or someone of that level, then my best advice is just to get on with the questions. As for the questions, well, there’s always going to be a trade off, isn’t there. If you put it on in prime time, then you want the biggest audience you can have, and people aren’t going to tune in to be made to feel stupid. So the questions, predictably, were pretty easy. At least there was a fair spread of subjects, and it wasn’t all entertainment.
All in all the hour passed pleasantly enough and I quite enjoyed it, notwithstanding the fact that my daughter beat me on several of the quickfire head to heads.