‘House of Games’ – BBC2

First things first, a disclaimer. I love Richard Osman. Tall, speccy, a little bit awkward, loves telly, trivia and making people laugh. Those features can easily describe us both. Insert dull-sounding tv show here; Nope, I’m not going to watch it. Oh, Richard Osman’s on it? Well I guess I’ll take a look. He is of course the quizzing genius behind the daytime TV phenomenon that is Pointless. A producer and director Pointless was in fact his first foray into jobs in front of the camera.

His new quiz show House of Games is in an early evening slot. I’ve seen it described as Only Connect for everyone, but the one loyal set of celebrities appearing for fives shows over a week reminds me of Dave’s supberb Taskmaster.  In week one comedians Nish Kumar and Al Murray are joined by TV presenter Anneka Rice, and Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo. The celebs are well chosen and well mixed, bound to be a bit reliant on stand-up comics for quick wit and general show-off skills. As Taskmaster proves, this is no bad thing.

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‘Horizon: Clean Eating – the Dirty Truth’

Sometimes the BBC’s flagship science programme serves up a well-timed piece of investigative journalism, and this was a doozy. Dr Giles Yeo is a geneticist studying obesity at Cambridge University, so is well placed to investigate ‘clean eating’, a recent diet craze and social media sensation. He nicely separates fact from fiction in the bizarro but strangely attractive world of green juices, spiralized vegetables and Instagram meals.

Dr Yeo is a bit of a superstar, with a calm demeanor in the face of utter nonsense and appalling pseudoscience. I would not want to play him at poker. He looks super cool driving a Mustang around America. His style reminded me of Louis Theroux; he’s very kind to nutters. He is measured and thoughtful;  willing to engage and break bread with crazy people (although of course not actual bread – it’s got the twin evils of gluten and grain in it and it will KILL YOU DEAD!!) He seems patient and doesn’t get riled easily. I’d just want to shout, which sadly doesn’t have the desired effect on idiots. He on the other hand is happy to listen and then explain with empirical and measurable data exactly why your claims are nonsense.

The first person he meets is food writer and clean-eating superstar Deliciously Ella (seriously, I’m not about to accept advice from anyone with a cutesy baby name, on any subject, ever). Her cookbooks and philosophy seem like entry-level woo. It’s largely sensible advice about diet – eat more fruit and veg, eat less processed stuff, cook from scratch more. However she then claims she cured a rare illness she was suffering from by making changes to her diet. This big change to her diet seems to have worked for her, and good for her. But what works for one person may not work for another. In fact, a radical change in diet may be significantly unhealthy if you discount your doctor’s advice and just work by what’s popular on the internet or what looks pretty on Instagram. Can you see how easy it is to slip into nonsense?

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‘Robot Wars’ – On the Box

It’s finally here! And it’s safe to say guest blogger Jontosaurus was pretty darn excited about it!

It only took twelve years, but it arrived in blistering fashion. Although I was somewhat disappointed that the show was devoid of its once amazing theme tune. Yes, Robot Wars returned to our screens, with the first frantic and destructive episode proving that the new boys can do it alongside the old ones.

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“Mr vs Mrs: Call the Mediator” – On the Box

When your friends fall in love, and they invariably, do it’s ALL they can talk about. In a very real and present danger of you being bored death, but you’re a good friend so you sit and smile and try not to puke when they get on to the topic of nicknames *shudder*. Well shnookums, if friends are getting divorced, however supportive you are by nature, I recommend running screaming for the hills.

This new insight is based on BBC 2 documentary Mr vs Mrs: Call the Mediator which I sat and watched, despite the silly name. It’s a view into the rather secretive work of the National Family Mediation service which has 500 locations across England and Wales and plenty of warring couples to offer up to the tv cameras.

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‘Versailles’ – On the Box

BBC 2’s newest lavish period drama is a British-Franco-Canadian collaboration about the building of the fabulous Palace of Versailles. A second season was already ordered ahead of the premiere. I guess that’s the thing with history – there’s a whole lot of story to tell.  It’s part produced by Canal+ but in English with no phony French accents, which is great. There’s nothing more jarring in a drama than hearing accented English that sounds like Vicki Michelle in Allo ‘Allo.

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‘Shakespeare Live! from the RSC’ – On the Box

Wow! The Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC should get together more often. Shakespeare Live! on Saturday night BBC2 was fabulous heady mix of serious high-brow culture, show tunes and comic relief. The whole format made me think of Comic Relief or Children In Need, a telethon with sketches, songs and dance.

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‘Shakespeare Live! From the RSC’ – Seeing the Future

It’s been a loooong week. But yay, the weekend is finally here and it’s nearly Saturday night. Going out? Gonna party hard? Getting so drunk you mistake your shoe for you phone? Nope, not me. I’m staying in and celebrating – it’s a strange sort of birthday party. And I’d be very surprised if the birthday boy turned up.

The BBC and Royal Shakespeare Company are getting together to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth with his dramatic best bits and song, dance and comedy celebrating his legacy. It’s a star studded event featuring such big names as Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes, Ian McKellan, Tim Minchin, Helen Mirren, the cast of Horrible Histories, English National Opera and Birmingham Royal Ballet (to name but a few) hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate. A little something there for everyone, wouldn’t you say?

Why the exclamation point? I don’t know. But if anyone deserves a little dramatic emphasis and poetic licence I think it’s probably the Bard himself. This event had been plugged for ages as a live event in Stratford (with a complicated ballot for tickets) and a live cinematic event, with cinemas across the country getting involved and charging a pretty penny for the experience, so I’m delighted to find out it’s on BBC2 tonight at 8:30pm. Culture on the cheap! I’m a happy little groundling.

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Many groundlings at The Globe Theatre, London (photo ayoungertheatre.com)