Z for Fake



Captain Z, the bus driver (voiced by Jake Yapp)


Associated-Rediffusion for BBC Two, 20 May to 15 July 2001 (8 episodes in 1 series)


Hey, how often do game shows beginning with Z come along? Not very often, so how pleased were we when this arrived? Zestful.

Z For Fake is a short 15-minute filler show. On the plus side: it's a lot better than Stash. On the down side: so is a frontal lobotomy without anaesthetic. OR IS IT?

The "Z for Fake" bus

Essentially it's a "Is this tune/picture/fact real or fake" show, certainly nothing we haven't seen before. Except of course it has a somewhat outlandish sense of humour. Of this we approve, particularly as it's so rare to see a game show that's prepared to stretch the genre into new styles.

Another willing hostage gets ready to play Z for Fake.

At the beginning, a random member of the public is bundled onto a red London double-decker (yummm... Double Decker) and driven around while being quizzed about bizarre things by a computer graphic bus driver in a pink bodysuit [Not again? - Ed]. A bit like Time Busters then, except completely different.

But is it art? In this case, yes it is.

The running gag storyline involves the fate of a defenceless animal. If the contestant gets too many questions wrong, various mock penalties are inflicted on the bunny-wunny. So, after every round, cue a short piece of film of rabbit bearing two giant crocodile clips if MOTP does badly, or rabbit sniffing flowers if they do well. Aaaaaaah. There's also a random woman holding up the score from time to time.

"And what's the scores on the white placard-type thing?"

The standard of research is very good and while some of the more obvious fakes are included "just for fun", there's quite a lot of questions that are actually very convincing, so "well done" to the writers. What seems a little unnecessary is the reliance on scatological shock tactics at times.

Real or fake?

After a few rounds involving various books, TV programmes, art objects, music singles and a variety of other stuff, there's a speed round called "Sort Out My Crap" where it's a quick True or False to a series of outrageous-sounding statements.

All in all, funny but vaguely disturbing, although as it comes from Associated Rediffusion - the same people who bought us Victor Lewis-Smith's TV Offal and Ads Infinitum - we're not too shocked about that.

Chinese "three penis" wine - fake, thankfully for the contestant that had just tasted some


The title is a reference to Orson Welles' second-last film, called F for Fake.

This show was made by Victor Lewis-Smith's production company, Associated-Rediffusion. Though it does legally own the rights to the name (and the accompanying "adastral" star logo), it's not otherwise connected with the original Associated-Rediffusion TV company.


The host, Captain Z
They're not one to "mince" their graphics (ha, ha)
The bus's control panel


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