âThe beauty of the show is its simplicity,â? explains Rory Bremner, impressionist and now the host of Channel 4âs new quiz show, The Clock. âItâs basically pass the parcel, but with questions.â?
Using a similar format to The Weakest Link, the twist of the show is that neither Rory nor the contestants know how long the round is going last, making time the key factor.
âWhatâs interesting,â? Rory says, âis that you get people who have gotten nineteen out of twenty on the general knowledge test beforehand, and theyâve been gonged out in the first round. So itâs that element of randomness that makes it so much fun.â?
Nevertheless, Rory insists that shooting the series was anything but. Filmed in what Rory keeps accidentally referring to as a shed, he jokes that âThe Shedâ? was, in fact, one of the programmeâs early working titles.
âWe were in a shed outside Loch Lomondâan old whisky warehouse,â? he explains. âIt had a great atmosphere to it, but they just couldnât heat it, so I pretty much had a cold all through shooting. The soundman must have hated me. They had two weeks of me going: â[blows nose] Er, Iâm so sorry.ââ?
So has his experience hosting the show given him a newfound respect for other TV quizmasters?
Rory laughs. âPart of me thought that it would have been done in a day and it would be no problem. But I donât think there have been days where Iâve had to concentrate so intensely and at times your mind starts to get a bit addled.â?
I ask Rory what kind of host he is and before I get an answer Iâm treated to a few impressions. He does Des Lynam, Bruce Forsyth and Bob Monkhouse (his favourite), but then confesses that heâs not much of an Ann Robinson.
âNo, I donât do mean very well,â? he says. âI think I was very sympathetic and after a while you realise that these contestants are very competitive
and they know how these things are, so in the later programmes I started to have a lot more fun with it.â?
Rory refers to many of The Clockâs contestants as quizzers: an odd breed of person, he explains, who turns quizzing into an obsession.
âThey all really knew their stuff, apart from one man who just didnât know anything,â? he tells me. âIâd ask him something like: âWhat year did England win the world cup,â and heâd say: âOh, here we go! Here we go!â
âIt turned out that he was in counter terrorism, and so I said to him afterwards: âBut youâre in counter terrorism,â and he went: âNo one knows anything in counter terrorism!ââ?
Finally, with the mention of Roryâs comedy, the conversation turns to the subject of satire, which Rory says is currently undergoing a strange transformation.
âThe politicians are busy satirising themselves now,â? he says. âWhat was it David Cameron said again? âEd Milibandâs done more impressions than Rory.â I just thought, âWell, who wrote that one?â Itâs funny that somebody will have been sat in Downing Street thinking up jokes for David Cameron to use for Prime Ministerâs questions.
âIâm actually doing six programmes for Radio 4 in the autumn, one of which will be about how democracy works, because I think that now everyoneâs a satirist. The default position of the general public is total apathy, because theyâve had enough.â?
Face The Clock: starts on Channel 4, Mon 07 Jan, 3.30PM