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Dick 'n' Dom's Ask the Family

You silly ass!First impressions: we can't get that theme tune out of our heads. Except hang on, that's actually Gwen Stefani's Rich Girl and not the theme to Ask the Family at all. Sorry about that. Anyway, the opening is a slightly danced up version of one of the many Ask the Family themes from the original series (the Indian sounding one in this case). The families (two teams of four, two kids and two adults, but they don't have to be mother, father and two eldest kids any more) are introduced by the voiceover bloke whilst the aforementioned Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood strut their stuff in the middle of the stage. When that's all over, it's straight into question one. The first set of questions are quickfire, light general knowledge (more popular culture than high culture it has to be said) and light brainteasing. So far, so reasonable. Except for the silly buzzer sounds (one of which in the first episode was someone coughing over the waord "bastard").

The first real stamp of Dick and Dom is reserved for the first person to buzz in and get a question wrong, whereby the voiceover laughs at them, declares them to be a silly ass and instructs them to put their ass mask on. The original Ask the Family was a gentle and cozy affair where you could imagine breaks in the recording for tea and cake. Not so here (apart from the cake, more of which later). What follows is a number of set rounds, normally a sound effects round, a close-up picture round, a rebus round (work out the name of the celebrity from the pictures), a classic Ask the Family clip round (hosted by what seems to be a parody of child prodigy James Harries, because he's an obvious target for satire) to see if the families of today are as clever as the families of yesteryear (no, usually), a game where the kids have to place things in a certain order Putting rivers into order of length(one of the things being one of their family), working out which two celebrities could have made a baby from the picture given and a seemingly random game unique to each programme (making a model head of a celebrity, creating equations with topless men, a memory test where the objects were held in trays by sexy dancing women, that sort of thing). Between rounds the voiceover man declares scores (normally commenting "ha ha ha ha! Rubbish." after reading out the losing team's score).

The final round is the very Sticky Moments-esque Have Your Cake and Eat It. Each family is given a large cream cake cut into quarters (although the family with the fewer points have a fifth quarter as a penalty). More quickfire questions are asked, if you're right you can eat a slice of cake. The first team to eat all their cake or the family who has the least cake left after the belch wins. And what a prize! A commemorative plate with the word "winner!" emblazoned on it, whilst the losers get the same plate but with "loser!" across the front.

James Tiddler, antiques and Ask the Family expert, played by Otis the Aardvark himself Dave ChapmanAnd it's all served up with Dick 'n' Dom's brand of silliness and mockery where kids and adults are treated and cheated alike. At least one embarassing story is bought up on each family, and the mum's all tend to fancy Dom, interestingly. There are regular characters in voiceover man, James Tiddler (who knows everything about the original Ask the Family), The Professor of Text who sets questions based on text message language but has far more interesting places to be, the two sexy females ironically ironically reduced to wheeling a magnetic board on and off the stage and also fancy Tiddler (but not Dick 'n' Dom, much to their angst) and Piggy Cowell (a puppet pig that does an impression of Simon Cowell that faints whenever Dick or Dom eat something pork related). References are made that will go over the kids heads for the adults, bum and fart gags there likely to appeal to the kids. Strange sound effects. Extended comedy pauses.

As a quiz it has some interesting ideas (if questions that go towards the easier end of the scale) but ultimately its pacing lets it down, being more fun when it's being quickfire with some of the slower rounds hogging up more airtime than they probably should. However, as a comedy it's a real grower on the proviso that you're willing to buy into Dick and Dom's anarchic world (this is a bit of a cop out opinion but there you are). You could sit there and watch it stony-faced quite easily, or you could go into fits of giggles whenever the voiceover goes "ha ha ha ha, rubbish!" as I have become wont to do.

The Spencers Have Their Cake and Eat ItA colleague of mine said "it reminds me of Shooting Stars" and I think that's a fair comment, with more in the way of referential silliness replacing surreality. The one thing it doesn't really bear much resemblance to is Ask the Family, to be honest, and it#'s interesting that the BBC made such an effort in broadcasting old episodes in the run-up to this new series almost as if to make you draw unfavourable comparisons - and that's precisely the sort of thing that Dick and Dom would want you to think, probably. Ha ha ha ha, rubbish!

Except: forgive us, we wrote this review with regards to the early part of it's run. In the interim, it's become far less silly, and now apart from an occasional quite good gag (and to be fair, there's normally one or two in an episode) it doesn't really work as a comedy either. Oh Dick and Dom! You got scared of the criticism and have ended up not really making the show appeal to anybody. Dave Chapman doesn't even go "ha ha rubbish" anymore. Boo, frankly.