Leigh Francis as "Keith Lemon"
Stand-in team captain for Holly Willoughby:
Chanelle Hayes (episode 4, series 2)
Gok Wan (episode 3, series 5)
Rufus Hound (episodes 10 & 12, series 5)
Chris Moyles (episodes 11 & 14, series 5)
Davina McCall (episode 13, series 5)
Emma Bunton (episode 2, series 7)
Regular Panellist: Rufus Hound (2010-2)
Regular Guests: Jedward (John and Edward Grimes) (2010-)
TalkbackThames for ITV2, 24 September 2008 to 29 December 2011 (62 episodes in 6 series + 9 specials)
bbc.co.uk webcast, 5 to 6 March 2011 (24 Hour Panel People)
Talkback for ITV2, 9 February 2012 to present
ITV1, 21 December 2012 (as part of Text Santa appeal)
Before we start, a little confession: having watched the first episode of Celebrity Juice, we then proceeded to merrily ignore the show for two years, during which time it evolved quite considerably. So if you want an overview of the show as it stands after bedding in and weeding out the ideas that didn't work, you should head directly to the "See also" bit at the bottom, where you'll find a link to Iain Weaver's review of the show from the autumn of 2010. For our impressions of the very first episode, read on.
Keith Lemon's Celebrity Juice is a comedy panel game which according to its original deleted Wikipedia article "will take an irrelevant look at the week's showbiz stories". We're not sure sure whether that's deliberate, but it has the ring of truth about it. Apparently the show "has been described as Have I Got News for You meets Heat Magazine" (i.e. in its own press release), which isn't a great omen as that sort of thing's been tried before and flopped every time (Casting Couch, anyone? How about 29 Minutes of Fame?) And it's wrong anyway, as the model is quite blatantly not HIGNFY at all but Shooting Stars, especially the "Have a Dig in Amy Winehouse's Wig" round which is pretty much Dove From Above by any other name. Almost interestingly, the titular diva is portrayed by Lesley Joseph off of Birds of a Feather. She used to be genuinely famous! [We are given to believe that Ms Winehouse was actually portrayed by various different people of one gender or another during the first series. - Ed.]
So anyway, as a HIGNFY rip-off there's clearly no comparison, but viewed as a
rip-off copy spiritual successor to Shooting Stars, the show makes some kind of sense. Your reviewer is not hugely familiar with Leigh Francis' previous work, and is probably missing some nuances (for instance, there may be some prior explanation for the phrase "bang tidy") but the Keith Lemon character works in the context of the show without the viewer having to know where he's coming from. Which is good news for us, obviously.
The format, then: two teams of three, headed by Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton. Four rounds, which may or may not vary over the course of the series, but in the first show were The Picture Round, Caught on Camera Keith, Have A Dig In Amy Winehouse's Wig and The Buzzer Round. All rounds are based on celebrity gossip, the sort of thing you'd read in Heat, OK!, Reveal, Huh? or Whoop! (we may have made some of those up, since we're too posh to read those sorts of magazines and get all our celebrity gossip from watching comedy panel shows).
The Picture Round offers four pictures of celebrities and five pictures of things, with points awarded for pairing them up according to the celebrity gossip of the week.
Caught on Camera Keith (which actually doesn't feature the Keith Lemon character at all, and includes his name purely for the sake of a contrived acronym) features bizarre skits with Francis in his Bo Selecta! masks, acting out celeb gossip stories. The crueler humour of the skits seems out of kilter with the rest of the show, and in the first show, one sketch in particular - a George Michael lampoon - seemed a bit, shall we say, "off-colour". These skits may work better if you know Francis' previous work and are more in tune with his humour, but without that context they feel a bit out of place. Anyway, there's then an observation question, and points may or may not be awarded for providing the story behind the skit. The scoring system is as inexplicable as it usually is in this type of show.
Have A Dig In Amy Winehouse's Wig we've already covered. A place to put all the random ideas that don't fit anywhere else in the show, most of which will be lost in the edit anyway.
The Buzzer Round... it's a buzzer round. You know what that involves. It involves buzzers. The buzzers, incidentally, consist of Keith saying "bang" and "tidy", and at first we thought they didn't actually do anything and he was just saying the appropriate word depending on who he saw hit theirs first. Which would have been quite funny, actually. But we were mistaken.
The one aspect of the show in which it does resemble HIGNFY (and to be fair, it's quite an important aspect) is its topicality. It does however take the notion of a "trivia quiz" to new depths, requiring panellists to know, for example, that it was Liam Gallagher's birthday that week (he didn't do anything noteworthy to celebrate, nor did anything of any consequence came of it, it just happened to be that time of the year) or that Jamie Oliver's wife is pregnant (which is nice for them both, but not much of a story really). That's not a complaint, by the way, just an observation. Well, we're hardly in a position to complain about obscure trivia, are we?
Anyway, the show is as inconsequential as the gossip it's based on, but it's entertaining nonsense. As topical quizzes go, it's hovering somewhere around the Bognor or Bust mark. As Shooting Stars homages go, it's agreeable enough, probably not as good as Tiny and Mr Duk's Huge Show, but then what is? If we knew what "bang tidy" meant, we might well sum it up thus. But we have a sneaking suspicion it might be a bit rude, so we won't.
The show publicised the attag @CelebJuice.