House of Games (2)



Alex Zane


"The girls": Kelly and Stacy Franklin


Shine for Channel 4, 12 May 2006


A pilot broadcast as part of Channel 4's "Comedy Lab" strand. Four strangers are invited to a house, a very big house, in the country, to compete for "the ultimate prize" - a paid month off work.

They take part in four games. "The First Game" is a comedy twist on those long rambling "Who am I?" questions that used to fill far more time than necessary on Going for Gold. The setting is a "seance" wherein Zane conducts imaginary conversations with the spirits of dead people, and contestants ring a bell when they've identified the mystery person. The first three to do so correctly go through to...

"The Second Game", in which Zane brings out his family tree and asks the contestants to select one of his five living relatives to ask them a question. However, there's a catch - each one is somehow unintelligible. One only speaks Urdu, another asks her question in sign language, and a third speaks so fast that only the occaisional word can be made out. Contestants have a choice of three possible answers, and are reliant on guesswork. One contestant is eliminated and the others progress to...

"The Third Game". Zane has five pictures, each one representing evil in some form. One player starts, and is asked to say whether the next picture in the sequence is more or less evil than the preceding one. Father Lionel Fanthorpe, off that Fortean Times show Channel 4 used to have, is on hand to tell us the correct answer. A wrong answer means control passes to the other player, and whoever is in control at the end moves on to...

"The Final Game". In the pilot, this was "human tug'o'war", in which two "flesh and blood" humans stood holding hands, BUT! one was an amputee with a false arm. The contestant picks one of the humans, Zane takes the other end, and they pull the two humans apart like a christmas cracker. If the false arm ended up on the contestant's side (which it did), they won a month off work (ditto).

You'll notice that, apart from the first game, this bears an uncanny resemblance (in spirit at least) to the short-lived Tim Vine vehicle Fluke. And like Fluke, it stands or falls on whether you enjoy the host's style of humour. Zane is very likeable, with a nice line in innocent mischief, and thankfully this pilot was free from the mean-spiritedness of his fake game shows in Balls of Steel. We're not sure all the elements quite hang together (the whole thing seems to be attempting to send up the trend toward "dark" television but it doesn't quite work) and we're not sure there's a series in it, but this was an enjoyable one-off.


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in