Back to the Bar


It's another attempt by the BBC to fill that all important Simpsons slot with some sort of gameshow. This one is hosted by Vernon Kaye.

Don't turn off just yet though because despite not really offering anything new to the table, it has got a reasonable amount going for it. Two civilian/celeb teams compete in a traditional quiz based largely around pop culture.

Round one is a buzzer round. Sometimes it's guess the product from the advertising taglines read out in a deliberate manner, more interesting is a round on spoonerisms where the correct answer is the actual answer with the first letter of each word swapped around. This is fun.

Round two is a picture round where each team is given three pictures and are asked to do something with them. The examples we've seen so far include guessing the celebrity from their teeth/facial hair, seeing three pictures and guessing as to whether they're exhibits in the Tate Modern or tat and putting pictures of celebrities in order of their haircuts.

Round three is another buzzer round, usually based on naming the TV Show or film from the theme tune or a song from the soundtrack.

Round four offers the teams a choice of four years since 1980 and one question based upon each year. Teams alternate picking a year, and the wrong answers can be offered across for a bonus.

Round five is another buzzer round which normally seems to give a character name from a TV show or film and asking for the show they come from, although we saw one that asked for characters given the name of their pets which was quite good.

Round six is Take a Gamble. Each team sees a question with three possible answers. The civilian contestant can gamble up to five points on whether their celebrity partner will get the question right or not - with hilarious consequences!

Round seven is against the clock and a bit like Scattergories. A team get 60 seconds to answer as many questions as they can, answering alternately after each correct answer, so if a person passes or gives a wrong answer control stays with them. They're given a letter which changes after each third question. There's usually one very obvious correct answer that fits the question for the letter involved but alternate answers are OK. After both teams have had a go, the team with the most answers get to play... Headjam!

The civilian goes center stage and gets asked to choose their potential prize (at time of writing that's either a pocket cinema, a DVD recorder and something else which I've forgotten). They then get eight fairly simple questions fired at them. After all the questions are asked, to win, all the player has to do is recall all the correct answers in the correct order. They can call on their celebrity teammate to help just once. If they get all eight then they win the prize, if not they get a DVD or CD for each answer they did get. This is cunning, of course, because they reckon the average human short-term memory can handle seven pieces of information at once.

We'll cut to the chase now - we quite like this. It's fast moving and fun and appeals to my useless rubbish knowledge side. What makes this more fun, I think, is the C-list celebs on the teams all seem to be incredibly game and up for it, and I suppose there's a "how cool are they?" aspect inherent. It's fun, essentially, because it draws upon experience of culture we can all relate to (some more than others). It's wide-ranging as well.

Vernon Kaye's good at keeping it all together as well, as it happens.

We can't help but think that 7:00 is the wrong time for it though, and it ought to be on in a 5:30/6:00 time slot but that's just us.

FACT: This show was known as Popcorn in it's pilot stages.