Celebrity Ding Dong
Leslie Phillips (series 1)
Peter Dickson (series 2)
Open Mike Productions for Channel 4, 1 February to 23 December 2008 (11 episodes in 2 series + 1 special)
Five celebs take on five members of the public (or in the language of this show, "civilians" - apparently something to do with something Liz Hurley said once) in a comedy quiz. The winning team get to go on holiday, the losing team get to do a trolley-dash skit under the end credits.
The set looks cheap (which we guess is deliberate) and is dominated by giant letters spelling out DING behind the celebrities and DONG behind the civilians. Each team stands behind a single wide desk with a giant communal buzzer in the middle.
Four rounds are played. The first is always How The Other Half Live, asking the teams to compare a celebrity thing and a civilian thing (and we can take the question cited in pre-publicity as a representative example here: who has more shoes - Mariah Carey or the Glasgow branch of Schuch?). It doesn't matter about the scoring too much - you just need to win the round to score a point for your team.
The next three rounds vary depending on the show. For example, in the second episode Round 2 was Crypts, featuring "psychic" Derek Acorah giving clues leading to a deceased celebrity, as if being possessed by them (so somebody else saw Alex Zane's House of Games then?). The third round, Life Swap, is a simple head-to-head round that takes a different form each week, and finally Pap Attack is basically the same game as Crypts, but with clues to a living celebrity given by a fake paparazzo. Each round produces a winning team, and a lead over the four rounds is coverted into a pathetic one-point advantage in the endgame.
In the final round, quickfire general knowledge questions are read out and the team buzz in to answer (more accurately: whack the big buzzery thing several times and shout various answers at Carr until he's bored into submission). Each correct answer lights up one of the letters behind the team (DING or DONG). The first team to light their whole word being declared Winners and therefore officially better than the other team.
Being so unashamedly cheap and camp, it could probably be fairly said that this is not a show designed to be watched in a state of sobriety. Alan Carr's stand-up persona (think Austin Powers meets Larry Grayson) fits the format perfectly, but like the show it becomes a bit wearing over the course of an hour, and it feels like the whole ding dong would benefit from being condensed a little and made a bit more pacey and a bit less freeform. Also, the scoring is so strangely low-key that there's not much of a game, but we suppose that's the point.
It's amusing enough as "post-pub TV" goes, but would we actually leave the pub to watch it? Don't think so.
The imminent second series will apparently ditch the whole celebs vs civilians aspect and be a straight celebs vs celebs battle. A curious decision, wethinks, considering that the bits which worked in the first series tended to be those which played on the whole "separate worlds" concept. But then again, maybe the new format will impart a bit of much-needed focus to the show. We shall have to wait and see...
The opening theme is a cheapo cover of Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice by Mr & Mrs Smith - quite possibly the same cheapo cover that was used for Liar a few years back.
Closing theme: Before You Leave by Pepe Deluxe.