TV

Nothing can destroy the indomitable spirit of the TV game show

Question: for a fun half-hour of good old-fashioned general knowledge and mocking people, does anything beat the TV game show? Answer: no

The internet has destroyed many things in its relentless quest to give us what we all truly need; foul-mouthed trolls, GIFs about autumn and vital updates on what your friends are having for brunch.

But although we are increasingly destined to live more of our lives online, nothing can destroy the indomitable spirit of the TV game show. It still reigns supreme, ever since Terry Wogan presented Blankety Blank with that weird tiny microphone on a­ stick.

There are so many variations: celebrity game shows, dating game shows, elimination quizzes, general knowledge quizzes. Some come with flashy revolving stages, others with one single black chair, others with anagrams and baffling riddles. Prizes vary wildly. Want a million pounds? Or a date with a semi-literate guy who stinks of Lynx Africa? Or a crap teapot? Come on down!

The beauty of it is, there’s a game show for everyone. If you’re off out on a Saturday night, you can watch Take Me Out and wonder whether love is really just a social construct. Or if you’re an octogenarian in a nursing home day room, you can spend your remaining time on this planet gazing at Richard Osman’s nostrils on Pointless. Just got back from school? Watch Eggheads, and seriously consider never becoming an adult.

They’re not all good, of course. Some have questions about protons and relativity that you can’t even begin to understand, such as University Challenge and Only Connect. While at least you can tweet happily about Fortesque from King’s College who has a forehead like a vacuum-packed chicken, Only Connect is just an extraordinary buzzkill; a baffling smug-a-thon that randomly links stuff together and makes you want to die.

You may not get the holiday to Thailand, but boy, you’re one of life’s winners.

Some game shows, though, are a joy. The best ones allow you to wholeheartedly join in while mocking the contestants. It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to shout at the telly and feel better about ourselves because at least we’re not Maureen from Harpenden who doesn’t even know what the capital of Australia is. The Weakest Link was perfect for this, as is Catchphrase. You figured out that Mr Chips was demonstrating the phrase ‘Like falling off a log’ in just two squares, while the dimwit contestants stand there with their gobs hanging open saying ‘Log in a line? Like three logs in a fire? Accident on a log?’ You may not get the holiday to Thailand, but boy, you’re one of life’s winners.

Yes, despite all those mildly diverting Buzzfeed quizzes about which Game of Thrones character you are most like in bed (I’m a Hodor) nothing can come between us and our very human compulsion to be superior to game show contestants. The internet might have a monopoly on our entertainment, but when it comes to a fun half-hour of good old-fashioned general knowledge, TV has the answers.

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