Blockbusters

Dara O Briain

The classic quiz show is back – again. Seriously, it’s been revived four times, which is normally not a good sign.

Since the original version starring Bob Holness ended in 1995, there have been failed attempts to revive it hosted by Michael Aspel, Liza Tarbuck and Simon Mayo. Now Dara O Briain is presenting the programme on Comedy Central, who must have faith in the idea as they have ordered two series before it has even aired.

While the basic elements remain the same, with one lone teenager up against a pair attempt to complete lines of hexagons across a board using letter-based clues, there are some changes. Given the nature of the channel, the humour is played up. There is certainly plenty of cheering wherever somebody asks: “Can I have a ‘P’ please, Dara?” Also added to the game are “Spot Prizes”, where if a player picks a certain hexagon a weird prize is on offer to whoever gets the question right. Examples appearing across the series include a wearable blanket and two rather naff garden statues.

There is also an extra round added to the game. In the event that both teams win one round each, they go to the “Hexagon Stand-Off”, which involves the contestants having to answer just one question the fastest, but if they get it wrong the other team automatically wins.

There are some elements of the new format I dislike, namely the way the contestants (and their mascots) are introduced as some of the players try too hard to come across as fun when they actually come across as annoying. However, this makes it more fun when some of these people give stupid answers, like in any game show. In fact, this happens with the very first question: “What ‘N’ are potatoes when they first come into season?” – “Nugget”.

Given that the channel are certainly putting considerable effort into the show, I can see it certainly being more successful than its past revivals, although deep down it will be hard to match Holness’s original.

Blockbusters is on Comedy Central on Thursdays at 20.00.

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