Paul Kaye


Talkback for BBC Two, 5 August to 23 September 2002 (8 episodes in 1 series)


Liar is a show where six people attempt to learn to play medieval stringed musical instruments within a 30-minute time period. At the end of the show, they play a tune to the crowd and whoever the crowd likes best wins £10,000.

Ha! Not really! We were lying, which spookily enough is the idea of this show. Led by Paul Kaye, six people all apparently share a similar claim to fame. However only one of them is telling the truth, the other five are big nasty liars and it's the audience's job, through questioning, to work out which one is the correct truth teller. If they can pick correctly then every member of the audience walks off with £50 each. If however they pick one of the liars, then that liar wins £10,000 to themselves. To make things a bit more interesting, each liar is given an assumed name and job throughout the show.

File:Liar kaye3.jpgKaye and a kouple of kontestants

In Round One the audience get to question each panellist. Whilst several questions are asked, these are cut down in the edit to about two per panellist and after each question Kaye tends to fit in an innuendo-laden joke. When everyone has been questioned the audience get a chance to vote. They must decide on their keypads which of the panellists is the biggest liar. Lots of flashing LIAR signs flash on and off in the background during this bit. After voting, Kaye reads out the voting percentages from left to right (revealed with a rather cool polygraph graph with the percentage overlayed on top). The person with the highest percentage is declared a big liar and has to sit down shamefaced, and a big computer graphic with the word LIAR is stamped on top of them just to rub it in.

Round Two and this is where the show starts coming into its own. Of the Liars, only one can walk away with the cash so now they get a chance to question each other in a bid to trip their opponents, and hopefully the truth teller, up. It's at this point the realisation of the fun of the show comes in - not only are the panellists expected to hold fast to their story but to win they've effectively got to sabotage their opponents chances through picking holes in their arguments and showing them up. Another audience vote, another player bites the dust.

File:Liar kaye and audience.jpgPaul Kaye asks the audience

Round Three and the audience are given the opportunity to point out mistakes in any of the remaining panellists stories, as well as ask questions. Another vote, another one bites the dust.

Round Four and there are only three people left in the game. Each one gets to ask one question/have an argument of both of the others before another vote leaving two people. They both step up to the Lectern of Lies in the centre of the studio and are given thirty seconds to look their opponent in the eye and tell them why they're a big fat liar. Then... the all important final vote. The audience vote one final time to vote off the liar so hopefully the one person remaining has been telling the truth all evening. If they haven't, they're ten grand richer.

Kaye opens up the envelope, looks surprised and then goes to each panellist in a random order (although leaving the person chosen by the audience and the truth teller until last to build up the tension and audience excitement, obviously). Each one gives their real name and real occupation. Finally we find out if the person the audience has decided is telling the truth is actually telling the truth. If they weren't, Kaye slams down the £10,000 in cash in front of them and then goes up to the truth teller and unmasks them, castigating the crowd. If the audience have been correct all evening then the cash is split amongst themselves. Hoorah!

File:Liar kaye2.jpgPaul Kaye seems awfully perturbed

Now, bluffing games tend to bore us a little at UKGSP Towers so it's nice to see one with lots of energy behind it and a real sense of achievement for the winners, to keep their side of the story up no matter what whilst simultaneously destroying their opponents and all in a comedy bear pit atmosphere. Paul Kaye is quite a good host - he keeps it going at quite a pace and needs a few more shows before he gets into his stride. He's quick with coming up with the gags but many fall a bit flat and the innuendo tends to become a bit tiresome after a while. To his credit, he is rather good at drawing out the tension at the votes and at the end.

The show's main flaw is that it seems to be an idea that's stretched just a little bit too far - the rounds aren't different enough to quite sustain the 30 minutes. The best part comes at the very end when a few of the biggest lies (or truths) are revealed by research notes which appear during the credits. It would have been nice to have a few more of these.

In closing, it's a good show which comes across as a real battle of wits as well as being fairly amusing to watch. We approve.


"Who is the liar?"


Harry Thompson

Web links

Newsnight Review discussion transcript


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