Reflex: The BBC’s latest Saturday night entertainment series fails to drag us in.

by | Jan 11, 2014 | All, Reviews

Somebody, somewhere, needs to take the top brass at the BBC aside, mop their fevered brows and whisper lovingly into their ears that they really, really don’t need a family-friendly gameshow to fill the Saturday night schedules. If it was down to me, this is what I’d say: “Leave it to ITV to cater to the masses clamouring for a show that blends competitive folk and miles of neon tubing, and let’s have a meaty Saturday night drama.”

Then, I’d bat my eyelashes and slip a crumpled fiver into their back pockets – anything to get them to see sense. This, after all, was the channel that brought us Don’t Scare the Hare. Instead, some twonk came up with Reflex. My most charitable description (at least one that keeps the swearing to a minimum) would be it’s a mixture of The Krypton Factor and The Cube, with pseudo-sporty challenges offering two teams, made up of three family members, the chance to win points and a place in the final, where 20 grand is up for grabs. Shane Richie is the host and Ken Bruce provides the commentary.

On paper it sounds quite good – the teams undertake a series of physical and mental tasks, which are then filmed in super slow-motion to see just how fast their reflexes really are (hence the show’s title). Unfortunately, Reflex is gasping, desperate proof that there’s a big difference between an apparently winning idea and its execution.

I loathe gameshows with a passion matched only by my hatred of the twin evils of football and snow, but I figured I’d give Reflex a whirl, thinking ‘what the hell?’. Eyebrow arched, I settled back to watch, but realised the magnitude of my error when one of the contestants admitted – without a trace of irony – that it was his dream to appear on a gameshow like this. It was everything I could do not to reach through the screen and throttle him.

God, it was awful. So fist-eatingly, tear-inducingly bad in fact, it actually made me angry. Reviewing it, it’s hard to know where to begin. The challenges, which included leaping through a pane of glass and catching coloured ping-pong balls, were dull to the point of moronic, while host Shane Richie channelled Alfie Moon every time the word “famlee” fell from his lips. Which was far, far too often. And I’m saying nothing about the uber-competitive, fist-pumping teams, lest I’m slapped with a libel suit.

Lingering about in the ether was Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce, whose commentary on Eurovision is legendarily witty and just a bit bitchy. I can only presume his voiceover was added in post-production, because not once did he ask why anyone would bother to waste their time with this gutrot. Instead he almost sounded like he was enjoying himself – which must have required about 50 takes.

On top of all that, with a run-time of an hour, Reflex is at least 30 minutes too long. It’s patronising, low-brow crud of the worst kind. But the most horrifying thing of all is it makes Splash! look inviting. How’s that for getting value from your licence fee..?

Reflex Continues Saturday’s at 6.15pm on BBC ONE.

Contributed by Scheenagh Harrington

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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