Watching Telly: That Puppet Game Show

By | July 21, 2013

I’ve just got back live from Broadcasting House viewing an audience showing of That Puppet Game Show (i.e. the show’s been recorded, we’re being shown an edited version so they can put our laughter and applause over the top). It comes out to 50 minutes, and is said to be going out on Saturday nights August/September so presumably a lead-in for Strictly. The lovely Mark Olver is warming-up. The audience seem to manage perfectly well making noise in the right places, so clearly it’s time to sack all floor managers.

  • The show is hosted by Dougie Colon (pronounced “Cologne”, professional Northern host based on Vernon Kay, large chin) alongside six main characters, the Games Makers (experts in their field, I can’t remember the names but one’s a jolly hockeysticks hard sportswoman, an Aussie nature expert (probably the funniest), a mad German scientist, showbizzy woman, music expert who’s a sort of indie Dr Fox and The Amazing Ian, mental agility expert and armadillo) and a backroom cast of minor characters (although one of which is Udders McGhee, a cow who is also the producer).
  • The show cuts between backroom stuff and the show itself, occasionally bleeding into each other. There’s a plotline that runs through each episode (Dougie’s having a party but one didn’t think he was invited but he just lost the invite; horoscopes with hilarious consequences). Characters are fun if play up to archytype and few if any of the gags are really surprising or out come out of nowhere, sadly.
  • But it’s also a gameshow! Two celebs battle it out to win £10,000 for charity. You know it’s for charity because for some reason all the characters make a point about saying it before each game. The comedy and banter during the game elements felt a lot funnier than the scripted stuff, there are some good quick witted puppeteers here.
  • The game consists of four rounds and an endgame. Winning one of the first four rounds is worth two points. Tieing scores two points each. Each game is led by one of the experts, six experts but only four games so you won’t see every expert lead a game in every show. The games I saw in the two episodes shown this evening were:
  • Punch Your Lights Out – contestants get dressed up in a suit with 100 lit pushlights on it whilst standing in a boxing ring. It looks like they’re going to try and punch each other’s lights out, but unfortunately whilst that’d be obvious if potentially thrilling they get 45 seconds to turn off their own lights. Whoever is most successful wins the points.
  • Saucisong – Six sausages pop up, each will sing a word or phrase from a popular song. The sausages all look similar, but have different personalities and wear slightly different clothes. Once they’ve sang their example, they’ll shuffle. The contestants must use tongs to squeeze the sausages in the correct order to recreate the song –  if a contestant makes a mistake their opponent gets a go starting from the beginning. Whoever gets the correct order for all six first wins the points.
  • Paddlestar Galactica – A table tennis table is set up but with air jets so that six balls float in the air about six inches above the table. Given 90 seconds and a basically unlimited set of balls, they must “knock their opponents planets out of orbit”. Decent.
  • Bird Droppings – Three trees are set up, each one housing a bird. Each bird has three calls. The contestants must memorise the calls. They’ll each play individually for 90 seconds. They’ll hear a bird call, they must run to the tree they think the call came from then recreate it – if they’re right the bird will pop up and drop an egg for the player to catch in the bucket. If the player is under the wrong tree, they won’t be able to catch the egg. Silly, amusing gag about “the Essex bird”.
  • Dart Attack – One player strapped to a wheel, other player uses blow pipe to fire “poison darts” at seven large paper targets around the wheel within 45 seconds. Unfortunately unless they break a target it’s difficult to see where they go. Repeat with the roles reversed. Point of note: if one person gets all seven, the other person doesn’t have to do it in a faster time, just within the standard time.
  • Life’s a Speech – This was my favourite game of the night I think. The contestants take it in turn to read a pre-prepared speech of an autocue, but the speech has several words missing in such a way that it’s basically an amusing general knowledge quiz. For example: “Hi my Name is Ronan Keating, you might know me by three number one solo albums _____, _____ and ______… a steak costs £19.50 and chips £25, which when added together would cost ______… when this place is full it would feel like a meeting of the G8 which consists of ____, ____, _____, ____, ____, ____, ____ and ____” you get the idea. The autocue moves at a steady pace and they can keep guessing as long as the blank word is on the screen. Surprisingly fun.
  • A pun involving the world Blow – my title as I can’t remember the actual one, simply blow out 100 candles. The final one is underneath a bell jar guarded by a sausage who won’t lift it until the other 99 are blown out.
  • Between rounds the scores are read out by Clyde the Crab, who has a deep New York accent.
  • The final round is That Puppet End Game – a two minute buzzer quiz with each question being worth a point. The six experts are sit in rows in the the style of Blankety Blank, and Dougie will call out which expert will give the next question. Whoever has the most points after this bit wins £10k for their charity. No mention of the loser getting anything.
  • Of the two episodes we saw this evening one had Gary Lineker versus Freddie Flintoff, the other Ronan Keating vs Tess Daly. Episode two felt considerably more entertaining than episode one.
  • Regrettably, and it is regrettable because I can see effort has gone into this, my gut is telling me this is not a hit. I don’t think it’ll be a Don’t Scare the Hare style flop, but I think in this day and age puppets are quite a hard sell and the title’s going to put people off before people tune in. If they stick around I think they’ll find it basically entertaining, although the jokes are by and large rather obvious as if for kids but the characters feel like they’re nodding towards older people in the main. None of the games are completely duff (although Punch Your Lights Out and Dart Attack are the closest) with the comedy of Bird Droppings and Life’s a Speech being highlights.

4 thoughts on “Watching Telly: That Puppet Game Show

  1. Pingback: Fifty 50 Episode 33 – Bizarre and anticlimactic | Fifty 50

  2. Brekkie

    I wouldn’t be putting bets on Take on the Twisters topping the hall of shame just yet. This show just screams “From the makers of Don’t Scare the Hare…”

    Sadly knowing the BBC they’ll keep using the idea until one of them sticks.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      There is no way this is the worst show of the year. It’s basically sound, I just think the puppets are a hard sell.

      1. David B

        …especially when “Muppets Tonight” failed to capture the imagination.


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