Eight Out Of Ten Cats: Big Brother Special, Channel 4, Thursday 30 August 2007
Did we like it?
Depends on your own perspective. On the plus side, four educated wits mock a bunch of self-serving idiots; on the negative side, four sneering bullies use emotionally stunted morons as verbal punchbags.
What was good about it?
• Jimmy Carr: “Sadly, Shanessa couldn’t be with us – because we didn’t invite her.”
• Jimmy Carr: “Initially 11 women went into the house, and then Ziggy joined them – making a total of 12 twats.”
• Jimmy Carr: “Did you see Channelle back in the house?” Sean Lock: “Is she delivering pizzas already?” Rather predictable, but Lock’s dry delivery made it amusing.
• Jimmy Carr: “20% of Brits think that Charley should… do what?” Sean Lock: “Only communicate by post.”
• Charley became confused by the concept of brain surgery, and Carr suggested she should have a “cosmetic lobotomy”. “How much would it cost?” she asked. “I’ll pay for it!” quipped Carr.
• Billi, the sort of person who was granted the gift of life in the same way someone gets to keep a football when it is booted into their garden and the kids are too scared to ask for it back, finished a clear last in each of the polls about who from the assembled housemates you would like to perform brain surgery on you/ become your pub landlord/ and whose diary you would most like to read.
• This bit could either go here in the ‘good’ section because it was quite funny or in the ‘bad’ section for the merciless mockery of Charley’ cultural ignorance and the general University Challenge snobbery. But because it is her it’s ‘good’. Danny Wallace: “I’d love to see how long it would take for Charley to get into an argument with Ghandi.” Charley: “Who’s Ghandi?” Wallace: “Brilliant!”
What was bad about it?
• In his intro, Carr referred to the 24 housemates who had been part of Big Brother 8. With 18 of them already out of the house and with only one a pariah on a par with a child murderer, there were 17 to choose from to make up the six person Big Brother panel. So why was it necessary to reach back into the distant and largely forgotten past to retrieve Nicki, Lea and likeable goofball Eugene?
• Jimmy Carr: “I don’t like to think of there being winners and losers in Big Brother – they’re all losers.”
• Rotund comic Jason Manford: “Everyone describes Laura as ‘bubbly’ – that’s because she eats too many Aeros.”
• Charley is now too aware of her catchphrase “I’m not being funny”, and too often because her atrocious acting skills it was apparent she was deliberately pre-fixing her words in order to give Carr and the rest a goldmine of (weak) gags, dragging “I’m not being funny” in front of her sentences with all the calculated menace of an unscrupulous car clamper boxing in an unmindful motorist.
• Shabnam laughing hysterically whenever someone insulted her, or she was at least edited to look that way.
• Dull Nicki.
• Jimmy Carr – "The title Big Brother is inspired by George Orwell's novel 1984 but this year's casting was inspired by Animal Farm."
• Clips of the most-talked about moment from BB6 – Craig's unrequited love for AnTHony, with the hairdressing horror pawing away at the vomiting Geordie. Craig, we learned, is one of the 17 per cent of BB contestants who are hairdressers.
• Science being told that 10 per cent of Big Brother viewers think that Science is a silly name. He tried to rescue his dignity by breaking into one of his awful raps that make the average greeting card verse seem like a great work of poetry.
• Sean Lock suggesting that 34 per cent of BB contestants go back to Asda after they leave the house. The correct answer: they lose weight.
• Jimmy Carr – "Nadia's post-Big Brother diet was extreme. She cut out all meat and two veg."
• Dave Spikey envisaging how Jade Goody would fare on Mastermind. "You've passed on all 22 questions. The answer to question one was Jade."
• Jade proving how thick she is. Commenting on Craig creeping around AnTHony: "If that was a man and a woman, that would be called sexily harassment." Commenting on the suggestion that President Bush is more stupid than her, she said: "I don't know who these people all are."
• Clips of the third most-talked about moment from BB6 – Kinga The Bottle Bank aka Kinga The Novelty Wine Rack
• Clips of the second most-talked about moment from BB6 – the hot tub orgy when Makosi "fell pregnant".
• Science claiming he and Maxwell are "strong characters, strong personalities." No. You are both big-mouthed losers.
• The sight of Maxwell and Victor in stupid hats; Michelle in a stupid face; Kemal in a stupid haircut.
• The not-worth-the-fee appearances by Liza Tarbuck and Jeremy Edwards
Eight Out of Ten Cats, Channel 4
What to say of you liked it
A fabulously irreverent take on the comedy quiz show format that adds a distinct voice to the choir of quintessentially quality Friday night TV feasts.
What to say of you didn’t like it
If comedy quiz shows were organs in the human body, Have I Got News For You would be the vibrant heart, QI the buzzing brain and 29 Minutes of Fame the oozing foot sores, then this is the empty, wizened testicles sympathetically eyed by a doctor armed with a pair of bolt cutters.
What was good about it?
• The shameless pilfering from successful shows as inspiration for the rounds. The first round was a list of the most talked about topics of the past seven days a la Family Fortunes, while the Poll With A Hole section was essentially HIGNFY’s Missing Words round renamed.
• The panel, comprised of Dave Spikey, Sean Lock, Mel Giedroyc, Lee Mack, Simon Amstell and Richard Madeley, were a good mix and all made amusing contributions. Admittedly, Madeley’s seemed to have been fed to him prior to the recording, but he got the timing right.
• It was much, much better than the disastrous 29 Minutes Of Fame and there was no dead(Jason)Wood. Also, Sean Lock was able to achieve redemption and prove he is a genuinely funny bloke. In fact, going by our current exchange rate between Comedy Quiz Shows we’d swap one Eight Out of Ten Cats for three 29 Minutes and the whole series of Space Cadets (still the fathomless nadir of the genre), but only half a QI.
• Jimmy Carr was a slick host, but his impromptu wit appeared to be constricted by his role and the best gags all came from the panellists.
• Simon Amstell and Sean Lock were the pick of the panellists. Amstell made a series of sporadic quips such as: “My brother had one of those black and white anti-racist wristbands. But the black one fell off, so he’s now a racist.” And in answer to the question: Seven per cent of kids don’t know how …? “The correct way to prepare crack?”
• Lock’s best gag was when he explained why he was a lapsed Catholic. “I was at confession, and I thought hold on a minute. I’m in a little wooden room telling dirty stories to an Irishman who’s never had sex. I thought ‘It’s bollocks, this.’” Although he almost trumped that remark with his guess at the Most Frequently Told Lie (“I won’t come on your cat”).
What was bad about it?
• The introduction was done with an American accent. It’s bad enough that films are trailed with Yankee tones to suggest the UK market isn’t important enough to bother re-dubbing for or to award the product (or should that be “pro-duct”) a specious global
authenticity, but for the festering practice to spread onto British TV shows is an infection that quickly needs to be cleansed, preferably by tossing the offenders in an acid bath.
• The opening exchanges between Jimmy Carr and Sean Lock were the kind of stilted dialogue you would expect from regional theatre actors and as a consequence, much of the humour was stripped from the first five minutes.
• Jimmy Carr’s joke. “It’s been claimed that the Make Poverty History wristbands are made by children in China. But they may not be children as they are a lot shorter over there.” While questionable in taste, the worst crime was that it simply wasn’t funny.