Sunday, 1 November 2009

TV Watch - Britain's Best Brain

In the interests of honesty and fairness I think that I ought to confess that I did actually apply for this show myself. I was given a phone audition back in July, and when he researcher who spoke to me asked me about previous TV appearances, and I told him about Mastermind, his reaction kind of gave me the impression that I wouldn’t be getting a call back. Oh well, all you can do is apply. So view my comments in this light, and by all means make your own mind up about whether this is sour grapes on my part or not.

Britain’s Best Brain is sponsored by Nintendo DS, and to my eyes seems to have been at least partly inspired by the popular brain training games on that console. Five contestants competed in a series of challenges, in order to earn brain points. This was not always as easy or as straightforward to calculate as it seemed. The first game involved making mental arithmetic calculations as quickly as possible. The second was a memory game involved remembering which celebrity photo was paired with which household object. Then they had to remember which sound effect belonged to which object. Then they had to link which celebrity belonged to which sound effect.

In between other rounds, each of the contestants took a turn in a challenge which involved using a giant eggtimer, and keeping the blue section facing the floor, all the time being swung around inside a giant gyroscopic apparatus which was somewhat reminiscent of the Big RAT from Joe 90 – apologies to the under 40s for that cultural reference.

There was also a recognition challenge, unjumbling a shape into the set of shapes it was made of, and then recognising what was missing from a photograph shown before and after.

The final challenge was designed to test the contestant’s ability to calculate risk, apparently one of the most important tasks that our brains have to carry out. Basically each of the contestants had to keep filling a balloon with air , and let go of the pump at the last minute before it burst. If their fingers were still on the button when it burst, then they had no points. They all managed to avoid that, and mainly due to a stunning performance on the gyroscope, Dr. Ryan won the show from Housewife Jackie.

While presenters Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston were introducing rounds, linking them, or wrapping things up before the breaks a really annoying and out of place jingle kept playing away in the background I noticed too.

So what’s the verdict ? Well, I’ll be honest this isn’t a quiz as such, and so I’m a little wary of offering an opinion. Games were short and snappy. Little enough time was wasted on getting to know the contestants, which is another plus in its favour. Jamie Theakston and Zoe Ball are both safe pairs of hands, guaranteed no to cause offence to anyone. I found the brain points system rather difficult to follow, though. Jules the Mathematician had more correct answer in the calculation challenge than anyone either than Jackie the housewife, yet received less brain points than anyone else.

I think that I ought to mention that my middle daughter Zara was watching the show with me. She loved it, and she made two insightful comments. Firstly , in her words ,
“This is the Krypton Factor without the Assault Course “, which is a bit of a trivialisation, but there is certainly a similarity, and secondly,
“I’m glad you didn’t get on it because you would have been crap. “ Out of the mouths . . . In my opinion it’s a pleasant and inoffensive show, but at the end of the day however you dress it up it’s a game show. Not bad though.

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