I was busily doing the washing up on Saturday night when the sounds from the TV in the living room began to assault my senses; before long they were insulting them.
The programme that was causing me such distress was part of the National Lottery Live TV show--- The segment was called, ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’. This, to all my readers outside of the UK, is a quiz show that gives the contestant three options to a question; get it right and you stay in the game, get it wrong and you go to some kind of idiot sin bin.
Anyway, the bit that ‘insulted’ my senses was when the presenter, a sort of orange man with mincing tendencies, was asking the question; What is the Black and white animal used by the World Wildlife Fund as its mascot, is it A: A blue whale, B: A Pink Flamingo or C: A black and white Panda.
Now it’s not necessarily the mind numbing banality of the question that got to me but the fact that the idiot in the chair was pondering over the answer---he was actually making his decision based on trail by elimination. I kid you not, he sat there, scratched his head (having first moved his jauntily positioned Burberry baseball cap to better display his spider web tattoo and the ear ring that looked like the lug nut from a 1957 Morris Minor) and said, and I quote:
“I know this one, Dale. I can see it in my mind...it’s a Black and white image innit?”
I sat there with incredulity etched on my features. Dale Winton, the orange presenter, looked at him too, fighting hard to control his features. I thought any second now he’s going to bitch slap the little dick head, but instead he calmly leant over his shoulder and in reassuring tones said “Don’t rush, take your time and just think about it. Which BLACK AND WHITE animal, possibly from China--- famed for its none breeding abilities--- is used by the World Wildlife Fund as their mascot?”
And the nonce actually said: “I’d like to say it’s the Blue Whale, Dale, as I’m sure that’s grey and therefore almost black, and I’m pretty sure it’s not the Pink Flamingo...” Cut to Dale who is now obviously wondering how his career ended up at such an all time low, that all that was left of his crumbling career was to coax social retards through basic elementary questions for money. But, trooper as he is, he persisted.
“So would you like me to accept BLUE Whale as your answer to the question, which BLACK AND WHITE , that’s BLACK AND WHITE animal--- which you used to be able to see at the London zoo--- and who is most famous for not getting it on with his partner, Chi-Chi?” And the moron in the seat then sat back with the kind of smile you’d have if you really weren’t quite sure if you’d got the decimal point one space in the wrong direction to signify the mathematical theorem for DNA.
He looked to the audience who were now shouting out the answer. Great, I thought. The great unwashed and lightly showered are giving him a hand. That was until I actually started picking out some of the individual calls. Most of them, thankfully, were shouting ‘Panda’, about a quarter of them were yelling Pink Flamingo and at least one at the back, yelled Golden Eagle; presumably the contestants elder brother (who probably had sex with his mother to produce him) and therefore was the brains of the outfit.
Burberry hat-man eventually plumped for Blue Whale and was duly consigned to the sin bin where he walked off with the awkward smile of a contestant who narrowly missed giving a word perfect explanation to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
Okay, so I slightly exaggerated what Dale Winton said, but if I’m absolutely honest, his face was a picture of dumb disbelief, and if things like contract re negotiation didn’t exist, I think Dale would have probably clubbed him to death on the grounds of crass stupidity---I know I would’ve.
But it got me to thinking. When I was a kid the TV quiz shows were actually hard, you really needed to know your stuff. Programmes like Mastermind required you having an amazing knowledge of a specialist subject and a vast sideways grasp of general knowledge; there was no financial prize--- but the kudos of being called ‘Mastermind’ for that year was an honour worth more than money.
With questions like: What do you call a device capable of storing electricity, consisting of conducting plates separated by a layer of insulating material?’ I mean, can you imagine Burberry hat- man actually saying “You know Dale, I honestly believe, and after due consideration and careful deliberation, that the answer is a Capacitor”
So I began to wonder what the fourteen carat Dick-head on, ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’ would do on Mastermind. I think it would go something like this:
Quiz master: Can I have the next contestant please--- Your name is Dwayne Elvis Nelson Mandela Smiff and you scored minus 12 on your specialist subject of ‘the life and breast surgery of Jordan’. You have two minutes on general Knowledge and your time starts now: Which US state has a Capital called Pierre?
Dwayne: Er, France?
Quiz master No its South Dakota—what do people suffering from trichotillomania have an impulse to do?
Dwayne: Is it watch the only way is Essex?
Quiz Master: No, it’s pull your hair out: In Greek mythology, what did Prometheus steal from the gods?
Dwayne: Tyres off their Type R
Quiz Master: Tyres of thei... What’s a Type R?
Dwayne: It’s a car?
Quiz Master Mr Smiff; do you even know what Greek Mythology is?
Dwayne: Yeah, it’s the Kebab house on the Streatham High Street innit?
The quiz master pauses for a nano second and looks at Dwayne with the same look Dale Winton had. But he pushes on regardless, with visions of baseball bats dancing in his eyes.
Quiz Master: Your next question: The orphan Rosa Bud is one of the leading characters in which Charles Dickens Novel?
Dwayne: I know this one!
Quiz Master: You do?!!
Dwayne: Yeah, its Gardeners World innit?
Quiz Master: Gardeners World? How the f**k did you get Gardeners World from that?
Dwayne: Well, Duh! Rose Bud. That’s somfink wot you pick of the flowers in the old gits garden down the road innit, and my old ma identi...intemti...islentify.... She knows wot dey looks like, don’t she?
The Quiz Master’s eye twitches, there is a pause. Someone in the audience coughs, and then....
Headlines in the next day’s press: MASTERMIND QUIZ HOST SLAYS CONTESTENT DWAYNE SMIFF WITH A BASEBALL BAT---He won’t be missed, said Jon Humphries, 69, from his padded cell at the Dale Winton Home for Disillusioned Game show hosts.
I switched the TV off and went back to my dishes making a mental note to check and see how long it would be before Dwayne made it onto the Jeremy Kyle Show.
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