When I’m working from home, sometimes I’ll put the TV on for some background noise as a change from listening to music. I find that daytime TV puts my subconscious into a perfect comatose state to allow my conscious mind to concentrate without distraction.
Anyway, almost inevitably, sooner or later whichever channel is providing my subconscious snooze-a-thon will air a rerun of a “classic” game show. Usual favourites are things like Wheel of Fortune, Family Fortunes and the who’s-your-daddy of them all, Catchphrase. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I made the mistake of actually watching a whole episode of Family Fortunes through over lunchtime (it was on, I was too lazy to move). As I watched I became entranced by the spectacle unfolding before my eyes and I began to wonder… where on earth do they find these people? (Not the B-List ‘celebrities’ whose train-wrecked careers have found themselves in the game show scrapyard, I mean the contestants)
Let’s take a moment to examine one of the questions that came up on that fateful show (this is not a joke – these are the real question and answers). Les Dennis was the unfortunate individual having to interact with these cretinous contestants, and he had to go along the line of family members and get a suggested answer from each of them. Here’s how it went:
- Question: Name a phrase which people often use to mean “stop talking”.
- Contestant A: “Stop shouting”
- Contestant B: “Stop it”
- Contestant C: “Stop shouting”
- Contestant D: “Stop talking”
* momentarily speechless *
I already have a fairly low opinion of the general public, but it mystifies me which particular rocks they have to search under to find people so utterly lacking in either intelligence or imagination.
You might have noticed if you watch any kind of game shows on TV that all the contestants are pretty much evenly matched. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if a Countdown contestant somehow managed to get onto a show like Take It Or Leave It, or Catchphrase? It would be like a fox in the chicken coop.
So, I figure there must be some sort of behind-the-scenes filtering process which sorts potential contestants into shows appropriate to their level of intellect. I imagine something like this:
- Question: Where would you normally find a campanologist?
- Answer A: In a bell tower
- Answer B: On a campsite
- Answer C: In a gay bar
- Answer D: That’s not really a word, you just made it up!
And here is where I suspect picking each of these answers would lead you:
- Answer A -> Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
- Answer B -> Family Fortunes
- Answer C -> Catchphrase
- Answer D -> The Never Mind The Buzzcocks identity parade
One thing is for sure; no matter whether it’s Family Fortunes, Big Brother or Wife Swap, the great British public will never cease to amaze, perplex and entertain me with their seemingly limitless capacity for self-induced ritual humiliation. Pass the popcorn, someone.
End of rant.