Clever v Stupid, BBC3

by | Sep 9, 2009 | All, Reviews

We haven’t seen a quiz as cheap as this since we lived in Romania. And we’ve never seen a quiz as confused and contrived as this miasma of fetid porridge.

The simple premise runs thus: a team of ‘clever’ people – doctors, literary experts, Latin scholars, biologists – are pitted against a team of ‘stupid’ people employed in a profession ‘renowned’ for idiocy – glamour models, supermarket check-out staff – in a series of rounds that tests the ‘intelligence’ of the teams.

Only the concept of ‘intelligence’ is corrupted and twisted to suit the ideology of the programme. “Some psychologists,” said presenter Matt Edmondson, the one bright spark in the show, “believe intelligence is about emotions.” ‘Some psychologists’? The show is based on such feeble scientific principles that it makes the philosophy of creationism plausible.

The first round proved this. Each team member approached a panel of strangers and tried to make a good impression upon them without speaking. This would demonstrate their ‘emotional intelligence’ apparently. Rubbish! This was about social confidence and had as much to do with intelligence as Des Lynam is to do with the composition of the Marseillaise. The task was won by glamour model Cara who kissed and hugged the strangers, while the more awkward ‘Clever’ team seemed constrained by shyness not stupidity as they predominantly settled for a formal handshake.

An interval followed in which the concept of ‘emotional intelligence’ and all other types of ‘intelligence’ fabricated for the credibility of the show were jettisoned in favour of asking idiots in the street simple questions in an effort to humiliate them for their stupidity.

Back then to warping intelligence into whatever form was necessary to remove cerebral acuity, and so disadvantage the ‘Clever’ team. ‘Physical intelligence’ was the rebranding of hand-eye coordination as one from each team made a cake, while the word ‘imagination’ was disregarded for the prolix ‘creative intelligence’ as the teams splashed some paint on a canvas and were judged on their efforts by an excruciatingly embarrassed art critic who resembled Mark Gatiss with a clay model of a foaming wave breaking on his forehead. More pictorial beauty has been disgorged from the stomach of a drunken tramp lurching along the high street molesting unsuspecting lampposts with his vomit.

It was in the ‘practical intelligence’ round that the show gleefully kneecapped itself. Here the teams had to unblock a sink unit and retrieve a ring from the pipes. And what was the focus of this keen adversarial duel? The quick-witted minds sorting out which would best shift the blockage out of the plunger and bicarbonate of soda? The cutting thrust and counter-thrust of witticisms between the teams that were flung this way and that like thundering cannons over the cowering trenches of Ypres?

No, the camera was hypnotised by the pendulous breasts of one of the models as she leaned over the sink with the plunger, despoiling all aspirations of resolving an already redundant intellectual dispute and seeking sanctuary in the cesspit of licentiousness.

The last round was ‘conventional intelligence’, and what questions would stretch the minds of both teams? The liquid boiling point of mercury? Who wrote Mrs Dalloway? Wrong again, one of the answers was ‘Shakira’. And the sorry abomination was concluded by a game of mind-controlled toy cars racing round a track, which was as enthralling as watching the London Marathon from the planet Saturn with the naked eye in which all the runners have broken legs.

Even laying aside the corrosive endemic flaws, the whole philosophy of the show is crippled. Only morons would hold the misconception that all glamour models are stupid as the correlation between beauty and intellect is as cogent as that between the length of Marxists’ fingernails and the annual amount of sunlight swallowed by basking crocodiles. And as a consequence, only the ‘stupid’ will watch, while the ‘clever’ will do something less boring instead.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


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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