Ask the Family, BBC2

by | Apr 4, 2005 | All, Reviews

Comparing and contrasting the old version hosted by Robert Robinson and the revival with Dom and Dick

Presenters

Old – Robert Robinson was like a benevolent headmaster, getting mildly cross when faced with stupidity. He’s the sort who’d hang out in a Soho pub, drinking real ale and discussing literature at length. He sits rigid at his desk, well away from the weird contestants.

New – Dom and Dick are like the misbehaving boys at the back of the classroom. The sort who’d hang out at McDonald’s, drinking too much coke and smashing up the toys they got with their Happy Meal. They dance around the studio and clamber all over the contestants.

Old – Robert Robinson was the king of the comb-over

New – Dom and Dick look like they’ve never seen a comb

Title sequence

Old – Happy Families playing cards/teapots

New – Dick and Dom’s school reports and pictures of them looking daft

The set

Old – Sober green walls, formal desks. Occasional invasions by tumbleweed.

New – Garish colours, sofas. Occasional invasions by glam girls.

Contestants

Old – Really odd-looking freaks with bizarre hairstyles, facial tics and awful fashion sense. Parents were always referred to Mr and Mrs Dull. Kids were prone to shy giggles. The show ended with the losing family’s father looking forward to administering the cane on his offspring for failing to identify an Arctic tern.

New – Not quite chavs but almost. Kids are prone to shy giggles but not too shy to give cheek back. The show ended with the families having to shove cream cakes down their throats.

Questions

Old – Subjects included plurals, Bugsy Malone, dog breeds, art, pound notes, history, dictionary definitions, geography, Greek gods and the Royal Family.

New – Questions on hip-hop, The Jungle Book and celebrities.

Old – Lots of mental arithmetic, word games and equations

New – None of the above. There was a round in which celebrities had to be arranged in height order which almost bordered on a maths problem.

Old – Lots of questions about classical music, accompanied by lingering shots of the Radio 3-loving families enjoying every note

New – Lots of questions about stupid sound effects

Old – The hippest question required the link between the song Sherry Baby and composer Vivaldi.

New – The least hip question was about Condoleezza Rice. (Unscramble Bonza Coodle Needle)

Old – The round demanding the identification of everyday objects from close-up pictures featured a garlic press and casserole dish – things the Dom and Dick generation never need because all food comes in boxes and goes straight into a microwave

New – The round demanding the identification everyday objects from close-up pictures featured a feather duster and a close-up of an elbow that looked like a bum

Special effects

Old – Rubbish, despite the efforts of Eric

New – Even more rubbish

Humiliation

Old – Robert could sometimes be a little disdainful (but nowhere near as disdainful as Jeremy Paxman manages on University Challenge)

New – Wrong answers lead to a silly ass mask being placed on the head.

Humour

Old – You must be joking.

New – Lots of infantile gags/mucking-about delivered in slapdash style. May have amused preteen kids.

Highlights

Old – Robert saying pretentious things such as: “Two more families pit themselves at the vaulting horses of abstraction, stripped to the intellectual buff.” We also loved his catchphrase: “So with the scores on 180-130 we come to the last question.”

New – The picture round that’s like that thing you get near the back of the Independent magazine on Saturdays. Answers were Bar Bra Wind Saw and Billy Bob Thorn Ton. We also liked the round featuring questions from the old show.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

04/04/2005

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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