Boys and Girls
Dougie Anderson (Friday)
Chris Evans (chauffeur)
Orla O'Rourke (hostess)
UMTV for Channel 4, 1 March to 17 May 2003 (12 episodes in 1 series)
as Boys and Girls Friday, 7 March to 16 May 2003 (11 episodes in 1 series)
as Boys and Girls Do It With Dougie UMTV for E4, 1 March to 10 May 2003 (11 episodes in 1 series)
Boys And Girls was meant to be Chris Evans' grand return to prime-time television; though there was an excellent game lurking in there, other parts of the programme obscured the good bits.
About half the show was taken up by The Main Game, in which each team (males and females, hence the title) was asked three questions about the other side. For instance, "What do girls value more: their handbag or their makeup." Only far more salacious than that. Answers came through two minor celebrity captains, and the team with the more correct answers from three questions won.
Before the show, each team had voted for their preferred teammate to be the overall winner. That person from the winning team came from the serried ranks of the audience, and went backstage. Joining them: the player voted most attractive by the opposition in another pre-show poll, and a player drawn out at random. Each of these three had 30 seconds to address the other side, and voting by the other side determined who won.
The winner picked a partner from the opposition, and the two went off on the back of a golf buggy, driven by a Mr Chris Evans, proprietor of UMTV. Everyone else rushed the stage, credits roll, and fade to E4.
On Friday, viewers saw the winner's week. The winner - and their chosen partner - had been holed up in the Boys And Girls Penthouse Suite somewhere in London's Docklands, hadn't been able to talk to anyone they know, but had been set some shopping tasks and a budget. For instance, one task gave the winner a daily budget of £10,000 with the proviso that they had to buy exactly seven items, and each item had to cost more than twice as much as the one before - so they would have to start with something costing less than £40. Anything unspent from the daily budget was lost, and nothing could be resold for a year. The total budget for the week was a cool £100,000 - but the winner could lose the lot.
On the Saturday, they'd return to the studio. In the first episode, the viewing public was invited to call in and determine if they judged the winner had wasted their money. This interactive element was dropped, replaced by a studio game of luck - five true/false questions, get three right to retain the prize. Any comparisons with Don't Forget Your Toothbrush's Light Your Lemon round were completely misplaced.
The show contained other minigames. Babe or Minger was played most weeks - four contestants were pulled out of the audience, and the other sex had voted on how attractive they judge their opposition. Those who came in the top half were deemed "babes"; the remainder "mingers." The contestant simply had to guess whether they were deemed "babe" or "minger." A correct answer earned a holiday somewhere or other; an incorrect answer earned opprobrium from the audience.
Parents On Parade, in which embarrassing parents appeared on screen, thankfully lasted just one episode. It was replaced by Down Your Street, in which a camera went down a street, posting tickets to the show through someone's letterbox. There was also a musical interlude, featuring a popular singer of the day, such as Dannii Minogue.
The main show host was Vernon Kay, assisted by Orla O'Rourke. The set was made to look like something from around 1970, with silhouettes of stereotypical males and females in pastel circles on a white background.
Even though the weekly shopping game made for interesting television, and Dougie Anderson was a congenial host, it couldn't rescue the Saturday night show. There was just one major flaw: every show had roughly the same features in the same place as the previous one, only the people changed. We'd seen this problem before, not least on another previous Chris Evans show, Red Alert.
The average viewer remembered just one thing about Red Alert: never to watch that tripe again. So, when they watched that tripe again on Girls and Boys, they decided not to come back again. Low viewing figures pushed the show further and further back into Channel 4's Saturday night, and it wasn't renewed after its contract ended.
Apparently Chris Evans' first choice of presenter was top-heavy Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, but she turned it down.