Show Discussion: The Big Spell

By | January 8, 2017

Sundays, 5pm,
Sky One

Join Sue Perkins, Moira Stewart and Joe Lycett as twenty kids vie across eight episodes in spelling-based challenges in order to become champion.

The show is based on Endemol’s Spelling Star format which has had some success as The Great Australian Spelling Bee on the Ten Network in Australia.

Spelling Bee formats were all the rage about ten years ago (see Hard Spell, Spelling Bee) and then they just sort of fell off the face of the Earth.

I’m afraid we forgot this was on until halfway though episode one, but if you watched it or caught up with it let us know what you thought.

6 thoughts on “Show Discussion: The Big Spell

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    If I was being “professional” I’d go back and watch the first half an hour. But I’m not going to bother as I’ve already decided I basically hate it.

    It’s evidently been made for American audiences, as such I can’t see it flying over here.

    It manages to tick pretty much all the boxes on my list of unnecessary things I can’t stand – unnecessary confessionals! Overwroughtness! Break timings! Padding in lieu of tension! It’s actually made me quite angry.

    When they’ve made a mistake in the spelling bee elimination, wouldn’t it have been useful to highlight the letters they’ve got wrong?

    Sue is a great choice for comforting the kids. Moira is very professional. We didn’t really see much of Joe talking to the parents backstage.

      1. Brig Bother Post author


        It used to be Australian shows had British sensibilities and American ad breaks. Now they have American sensibilities and nobody watches them.

  2. Weaver

    Having watched the first half of the show, what Nick missed was a relay spelling challenge against the clock: contestants stand in an overgrown hexagon and spell words in turn.

    Over-wrought, yes. Pieces to camera, yes, though some of them (a few) had modest editorial value. Contestants being coached on how to react, and not being honest on stage, that was present. Breaks in the middle of a contestant spelling a word, you…

    Bob’s car wash is great!

    …got it.

    Based on an Australian format, and I can see they’ve tried to “localise” it in the same way that My Kitchen Rules tried to “localise” itself: in name only.

    I can see myself going through this week’s episode with a stopwatch. I’m not convinced we saw every last second of the timed rounds, and I’d like to know how little game there was in the 44-minute show.

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    93k for this last night, apparently.

    I suspect that’s not very good, but I don’t really know with Sky.


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