In this British TV Friday post, I’ve chosen to highlight another form of television that the British do well, quiz shows. There are a number of British quiz shows, and what sets many of my favorites apart from the stereotypical quiz show is that winning is not the point. Being witty is the primary goal. They often feature comedians and other celebrities who prove that being intelligent can be very, very funny, or, on occasion, that being dumb can be pretty amusing as well.
(Warning: Some of these shows contain swearing and risqué jokes. If that’s the sort of thing that bothers you, don’t watch them. For those of you who aren’t bothered, you can find most of these shows on YouTube.)
A favorite is “QI,” or Quite Interesting, hosted by actor Stephen Fry. This panel show features guests displaying their knowledge or lack thereof by answering trivia questions. Points are awarded for interesting answers, not only for correct ones, and during the “general ignorance” round, viewers will probably discover that what they believed to be true about the issue under discussion is a pack of lies, as common misconceptions are debunked.
Another classic is “Never Mind the Buzzcocks,” a panel show focused on music. It features celebrities (Josh Groban, for example) and comedians who answer questions about pop stars, try to identify intros of songs hummed and beat-boxed by teammates and pick semi-recognizable musicians out of a line-up. As mentioned above, the point is primarily to be witty, although some guests don’t seem to be able to manage that. Search “Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Jedward” to be treated to two of the most annoying twin teenagers in the world. You’re welcome.
Side note: I’ve have a strange love for “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” regular Noel Fielding (who is the one who legitimately hates Coldplay in this clip, although I actually like Coldplay.) and Alan Davies, longstanding panelist for QI. Not sure why.
“Would I Lie to You” is a panel show in the spirit of a number of other enjoyable British shows, such as “Mock the Week” and “8 Out of 10 Cats.” Many of the same guests star in those shows, and they’re all quite amusing. I chose “Would I Lie to You” to describe further because it’s my favorite of the genre. It features guests reading statements about their lives that may be true or false. They don’t know which it will be before reading them and must answer questions from the opposing team members, who then decide if they think their claim is truth or a lie. I also mention this show because I got some of my friends to play a version of this game at a recent Halloween party, and it was quite fun.
Also, David Mitchell, who is one half of “That Mitchell and Webb Look,” featured in last week’s edition of British TV Friday, is a frequent guest on these shows, and both his rants and stories about his life never fail to amuse.
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