Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Old shows for New - or vice versa

What Would you Bring Back ?

I think it was on Sunday that I was idly listening to the radio during quite a long car journey, when I heard an item on Absolute Radio, discussing which quiz/game shows people would really like to see back on television. I didn't catch the whole item, so I don't know whether this was brought on by such recent revivals as "Going for Gold " or "The Krypton Factor", neither of which I have yet seen, or by the rumour currently doing the rounds that the old Hughie Green show, "Take Your Pick" is about to be revived.

To be honest, what I heard of the item wasn't all that riveting, but then that's mass entertainment radio for you. Believe it or not I think that the show the host most wanted to be revived was Fred Dineage's "Gambit " ! But the idea behind the item was very interesting. So here, after due thought and deliberation, are the shows that I think I would most like to see brought back.

Fifteen to One

There cannot be a serious quizzer in the land, or many not serious quizzers either, who would not love to see Fifteen to One return to our screens. Since it ended in late 2003 there really has been nothing to replace it. It was a show that satisfied on pretty much every level. Yes, its true that if you were unlucky you might get a couple of real stinkers for your first two questions, and that would be that. But then just look at the list of winners of each series. There are no mugs there at all, and you can't make out a case that luck had anything to do with their success in any way. Look at the number of questions you'd get through in a half hour show - a half hour show with an ad break in the middle, at that. No messing about making us get to know the contestants, and a really simple format. If there was ever a quiz show that more perfectly delivered just what you'd want, then I for one would love to know what it was.
Here's another thing too. Alas, I never applied for Fifteen to One. My first ever audition for a show was in 2004, after it ended. But with the number of contestants who took part in each series, lets be honest, almost anyone had a chance of appearing on it. For example, all three of the other contenders in my first round heat of Mastermind in 2007 had appeared on Fifteen to One - although not at the same time !
I don't know who owns the rights to the format, and how feasible bringing the show back would be. But it would surely be a success.

TV Top of the Form

Don't laugh. There is actually method in my madness. Whereas with "Fifteen to One" I'd just like to see the show back on our screens, just as it was, I'm not suggesting that we resurrect dear old Geoffrey Wheeler, in all his brillianteened glory, with his teams of suburban grammar schoolites. No. But I am suggesting that a genuine general knowledge team quiz competition between schools might actually be a bloomin' good idea. Let me explain.

Although quizzers come in all shapes and sizes, and all ages, the majority of people that I meet in that corner of my life devoted to quizzing are people in their forties, like me, or older. Sometimes I've been amazed that a particular person might know the answer to a specific question, and I'll ask them how they knew it. You can get quite a number of responses if you try this, but I can guarantee that two answers will be far, far, far more common than any of the others. The first is: -
I heard it in another quiz
and the second is
I remember it from school
That's the thing. The way that we were taught , way back in the dark ages that were the 1970s and earlier, you couldn't help acquiring a decent amount of General Knowledge through school. Rightly or wrongly there was a certain body of knowledge that a person of average intelligence could have been expected to accumulate by the time they reached the age of 16.

Certainly from at least the latter half of my teaching career the emphasis in education has been switched to the acquisition of skills, rather that knowledge. Now I'm not criticising that. But somewhere along the line our view of what general knowledge a child of 16 might reasonably be expected to have accumulated has contracted. Perhaps I am just exercising the right of the middle aged to begin to moan that things now are nowhere near as good as they were in our day. But I don't think so. In my experience, children today are every bit as intelligent as they were when I was at school, if not more so. But I do think that somewhere along the line we are failing to show them the importance, and above all else, the enjoyment of knowledge. I don't think its just school, either. I mentioned Fred Dineage earlier. Can you imagine ITV ever giving airtime now to a show like How ? Or for that matter, can you imagine them putting anyone either as old or hairy as Jack Hargeaves on children's TV now ? Albeit that he was surely the inspiration for Bob Fleming on The Fast Show.

Would a TV show to find the most knowledgeable school team in Britain make a difference ? Probably not. But on the other hand, possibly so. You can't turn the clock back, but it doesn't mean that you can't take a good idea from the past and update it to make it meaningful for the present and the future. Don't think for one minute that people wouldn't be prepared to watch a two teams of , lets say, fifteen year olds battling it out in a University Challenge style quiz - for the sake of argument. Should any producer reading this see the makings of a good idea, I am always available for advice and consultancy - just drop me an email.

1 comment:

andrewp said...

Hi there, my name's Andrew Pugh and I'm a reporter for the Neath Port Talbot Guardian. I've been following you blog and was wondering if you would be interested in doing a story. A while back we covered you on Mastermind and I was thinking about doing a follow up. If you're interested you can phone me on 01656 647357 or email me at andrew.pugh@hotmail.com