Spelling Bee, ITV1

by | Jul 14, 2005 | All, Reviews

Favourite – “Definition?” The most liked of a particular group. Alternative definition (British TV): the best we could afford with a budget not even long enough to strangle Chris Tarrant.

“Example?” With your favourite celebrities Edwina Currie, Roger Black, Patrick Mower, Fiona Phillips and Andrew Castle.

Ultimate – “Definition?” The last one; the best instance of a kind. Alt (British TV): A word stripped of all meaning through overuse by blank-faced hosts when they want you to deify their genius at a humdrum format dreamt up in a rushed five-minute meeting as executives were forced to find a filler after axing poorly performing reality shows.

“Example?” Edwina Currie is the ultimate endorsement for compulsory, democratic adult euthanasia.

Charity – “Definition?” An act of selfless benevolence usually manifested in the form of money or time. Alt (British TV): A fatuous justification for a cheap, moronic TV show to be broadcast because, hey, as long as one hospitalised child benefits, it’s all worthwhile.

“Example?” I will donate a million pounds to charity if you can guarantee that Fiona Phillips will never appear on TV again.

Genius – “Definition?” An intellect or artistic skill way beyond the capabilities of the majority. Alt (British TV): A disposable sobriquet furnished by an excitable, exclamatory host upon anyone who happens to do something slightly better than average which would otherwise pass unnoticed by the sweetly sedated audience.

“Example?” It’s pure genius the way in which Tara Palmer-Tomkinson has become famous despite exhibiting less talent for television than a dried trickle of blood which oozed slowly out of a squashed badger.

Contestant – “Definition?” Those participating in a challenge of some sort. Alt (British TV): Desperate, slimy, odious half-human entities that have undeveloped photographic fluid running through their veins and that will crawl on to any TV show as long as they are certain of meagre exposure.

“Example?” Please welcome contestants Edwina Currie, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Patrick Mower.

Secret Weapon – “Definition?” Armament which one side will use to conclusively shift a conflict in their favour, often through the element of surprise. Alt (British TV): Stupid, non-entity who has no other positive characteristics and so has to be awarded a silly name which will give her some illusory potency.

“Example?” But Patrick’s team have their secret weapon, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

Precocious – “Definition?” Outstanding talent, often among the very young. Alt (British TV): Annoying, arrogant little brat named Samir who if he wasn’t such a damn fine speller would spend all day having his knuckles rapped by fellow pupils transformed into vicious bullies by his supercilious nature.

Arguably – “Definition?” Moot point of a discussion which can swing opinion one way or the other. Alt (British TV): Highly implausible theory which only gains credibility because it’s been spoken by a TV host who has the trust of the British populace.

“Example?” Roger Black is arguably the least charismatic man ever to appear on British television, even the cloth capped old grump who turned the scores on We Are The Champions was a bonfire of charisma in comparison.

Famously – “Definition?” Something of note, often from a long while ago. Alt (British TV): Any event that has happened on American TV ever, and is so much “cooler” than anything we Brits could ever come up with.

“Example?” Gracious is famously a word which has never been placed adjacent to the name Chris Tarrant.

Cutthroat – “Definition?” Phrase meaning to ruthlessly apply, originated among 18th pirate captains who would agree to split the spoils of a joint venture but then one would end the contract by cutting the throats of his rivals and claiming all the treasure. Alt (British TV): Corporate expressions of dashing vigour used to embolden the motives of asinine game shows.

“Example?” Over three cutthroat rounds the celebrities will be whittled down to a single winner.

Teeth – “Definition?” Organic enamel tools affixed to the upper and lower jaw used to cut, tear and grind food. Alt (British TV): Superficial extension of an expertly carved plastic face which is whitened to the glare of the midday sun and then flashed like a lighthouse beacon to ward off vessels from running aground.

“Example?” When Fiona Phillips grinned, she ensured that her teeth were exposed; while in their homes, hundreds of mortally-scared pensioners rang hospitals to claim they were eerily travelling down a tunnel towards an opaque bright light in the distance.

Applause – “Definition?” Cumulative noise made by an audience simultaneously clapping to indicate their approval of a certain element of the performance. Alt (British TV): Myopic, pre-programmed reaction induced by amoral floor managers to ensure that the Spelling Bee studio was forever filling up with fake warm appreciation rather resemble the empty, icy tomb of some Norse chief.

“Example?” “Tara’s spelled “Posh” correctly. A round of applause, please.”

Smile – “Definition?” A facial expression which shows approval and delight. Alt (British TV): A wholly false expression of happiness used by TV veterans to mask the genuine sensations of bitterness and jealousy they feel towards their celebrity rivals.

“Example?” When his team were eliminated, Andrew Castle cast warm smiles in the direction of his victorious adversaries.

Crossed Fingers – “Definition?” An act of pulling the index finger over the forefinger in the hope of bringing good luck. Alt (British TV): TV host desperately concocts a futile and meaningless physical gesture to pad out some time.

Celebrity – “Definition?” Someone in the public eye, usually because of some outstanding talent in the arts or sport. Alt (British TV): Anyone who has ever appeared, only if it’s just an fake-tanned foot, in the paparazzi section of the tabloid weekend supplements.

“Example?” Tara Palmer-Tomkinson is the archetypal modern-day celebrity who achieved fame through her zany, madcap personality which if, she didn’t have a double-barrelled surname or “know” royalty, would be enough to section her in the nearest asylum.

Conceit – “Definition?” The belief that you are superior to your peers, often delusional. Alt (British TV): Trait held by 11-year-old spelling prodigy shipped over to Britain to spit out his cute bile at Chris Tarrant in the futile hope of securing a permanent cameo role in the new series of CSI as an office-bound teen-phenomenon.

Tough – “Definition?” Difficult to cut through; hard to overcome; dogged. Alt (British TV): Astonishingly easy questions in an idiots’ spelling test.

“Example?” If Tony Slattery turned cannibal, he would find it tough to bite through Chris Tarrant’s leathery skin.

Innuendo – “Definition?” Ostensibly harmless words or phrases engendered with a mischievous, licentious double-meaning. Alt (British TV): Desperate gags concocted by scriptwriters to elicit uncontrollable, and slightly embarrassed, cackling from elderly harridans in the audience who last saw a penis when they gave birth to their now adult son.

“Example?” The next round is ‘I may be small, but I’m hard’.

Dignity – “Definition?” The quality of being able to retain self-respect in trying circumstances. Alt (British TV): None, the attribute has been extinct since 1997, and can therefore only be expressed as an antonym – Edwina Currie.

“Example?” Despite being surrounded by exemplary acts of dishonour, Samantha Bond maintained her dignity.

Flotsam and Jetsam – “Definition?” The splintered remains of a sunken ship (often cheaply and shoddily fitted) which resurface after the vessel has sunk to the depths. Alt (British TV): Any group of celebrities called up like unwanted spirits at a séance to appear on a cheap and shoddy game show, often for charity.

“Example?” Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Edwina Currie are the flotsam and jetsam of reality TV, floating aimlessly from show to show.

Sincerity – “Definition?” Words and sentiments expressed with genuine feeling. Alt (British TV): Empty words exchanged between celebrities as they are eliminated from game shows and then return to their dressing rooms to stick pins in effigies of their successful rivals.

“Example?” When Tara got a question wrong Andrew Castle cried: “Oh! Bad luck, Tara.”

Right back – “Definition?” To return instantaneously from a destination. Alt (British TV): To return after a tortuous five minute advert break during which time slugs in human form (known colloquially as “advertisers”) try to sell you products which will pollute the environment, your body or your soul.

Great – “Definition?” Of particular worthiness, often indicative of being lauded for an extended period. Alt (British TV): Anyone who is leaving the show no matter how pitiably they performed.

“Example?” “Well done, Edwina. You were great.”

Terrorism – “Definition?” Acts of creating fear in a populace through threats to kill and maim and carrying out those threats. Alt (British TV): Phrase employed by television news stations to increase their viewing figures three-fold to please their advertisers.

“Example?” Trevor McDonald: “Find out more about the bombers in 20 minutes.”

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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