Al Murray’s Compete For Meat Review: Points For Poultry

AL MURRAY’S COMPETE FOR MEAT: Thursday 19th May, Dave, 9pm

We’re no strangers to gameshows with odd premises, some pretty odd rounds, and some pretty odd prizes, but Compete for the Meat, presented by bastion of Britishness Al ‘Pub Landlord’ Murray, is in a league of its own, pitting four teams of contestants against each other to win… drum roll… a frozen chicken (runners up get sausages, of course). Yes, in this new show ‘points win poultry’.

Okay, so it’s not a serious gameshow. It’s not going to be challenging Mastermind’s ambition to find the country’s biggest brainbox, nor is it going to reveal some otherwise untapped Krypten Factor-primed athletic prowess in its contestants. No, Compete for the Meat is all about the absurd and silly, as ably demonstrated by its arm-waving mascot Mr Gibblets, and Murray’s own particular brand of publican philosophising.

Episode one sees four teams – the Guv’s Girls, Awooga Cougar, The Ivy Inn and Barnesy’s Demons – do battle for the prestigious poultry, and to avoid the last placed ‘Walk of Shame’ over a number of rounds. First up is a nice-and-easy introductory quiz in which the teams answer questions on random subjects including animal noises, moustaches, cash and body matters. Round two ups the stakes with members of said teams competing in ‘Ultimate Shuffleboard’, where pub grub staples such as roast potatoes and gravy are used as replacements for the traditional game’s instruments. Then after a quick interlude bonus question, it’s on to the Final Quick Fire round.

All of this is overseen by a trio of celeb quests in the roped-off VIP area – Balls of Steel’s penis-mike-ed prankster Olivia Lee, Don’t Get Done, Get Dom’s diminutive swindle-basher Dominic Littlewood and footy hero Peter Shilton – with former Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon as the sexy blonde assistant on hand for carrying duties and aesthetic appeal.

It’s an intentional throwback to the gameshows and quizzes of yesteryear, with its meat-based prizes, matey team line-ups and Debbi McGee-esque support acts, only skewed through the Al Murray blender. Yet the end result is not as irreverent as it might like to think it is. Off the wall surrealism and zany tomfoolery a-la Shooting Stars this isn’t, and where Vic and Bob served up unpredictable embarrassments for their panels of accompanying celebs, Murray’s VIP section of special guests are an awkward, unused and unnecessary addition.

The real selling point though is not the odd questions (how much change do various audience members have in their pockets?) but rather the humour of the pub landlord himself, which has always been divisive. Al Murray’s persona is that of a prejudiced misogynist, wary of ‘dandies’, foreigners, and anything un-British. His opinion of Australian history, of which one of the contestants is an expert? “We found it, the end.â€? He’s an ironic take on a working class Brit stereotype. However a criticism that has been levelled at character creator Alastair ‘Al’ Murray, is that while the his creation is exactly that – an ironic stereotype – the humour is derived from his jokes and their targets as much as they are from satirizing the character delivering them.

Compete for the Meat is diverting, bizarre and broad enough to entertain, and Dave material through-and-through. A lads mag equivalent of Saturday tea time quiz shows, with all the wit and wisdom that entails, and that has a dafter prize than Bully’s speedboat. How much you enjoy it will ultimately depend on how much you like, or dislike, the beer, history and politics dispensing presenter.