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Friday, 3 June 2005

Eight Of Out 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.

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