The unique selling point of Impossible Celebrities – a sparkly new primetime variant on a daytime game show that has so far flown under my radar – is summed up by host Rick Edwards thus: ‘While most quizzes have just a right answer and a wrong answer, we also have impossible answers; they’re not just wrong, they couldn’t possibly be right.’
This, for me, raises a number of troubling existential questions, principally: in what circumstances can an answer be said to be wrong, yet still **hypothetically** be right? Have we, in fact, entered the abstract realm of theoretical quizzing?
By way of example, one question from this week’s opening show asked, ‘Which sitcom screen wife of Richard Briers went on to appear in Calendar Girls and Shaun of the Dead? Was it a) Felicity Kendal b) Penelope Keith or c) Penelope Wilton.’
While the correct answer was Penelope Wilton, the impossible answer, according to Edwards, was Penelope Keith, because – ha ha! – she’s never played Richard Briers’ wife.
Fair enough – but, equally, Felicity Kendall didn’t appear in Calendar Girls or Shaun of the Dead. So why, philosophically speaking, is Pen K playing Richard Briers’ missus any more ‘impossible’ than Flic K magically turning up in two films she wasn’t in? To make either ‘possible’ would require exactly the same things – i.e. a casting director and a rudimentary knowledge of time travel.
Anyway, if the ‘impossible’ part of the title is open to debate, that goes double for the ‘celebrities’ bit. ‘Reality TV legend’ – yes, legend – Spencer Matthews, anyone? ‘YouTube sensation’ Louise Pentland, aka Sprinkles of Glitter? (no, me neither). H from Steps? You get the idea.
To be fair, the 18-strong line-up does feature a handful of genuine household names, including ‘the magical Debbie McGee’ and ‘pudding king Gregg Wallace’, all competing on behalf of their chosen charities for the grand prize of a giant exclamation mark filled with 10,000 pound coins.
Why is the money in a giant exclamation mark? Your guess is as good as mine. But my sympathies to anyone who gets stuck behind the winner in the queue at the bank.
Saving Lives at Sea
If, like me, you’ve been guilty of taking the UK’s 5,000-strong army of RNLI volunteers for granted, you won’t after watching this new fly-on-the-boat documentary series, which shows crew members making daily split-second, life or death decisions, without asking for a penny in return. Mixing dramatic on-board camera footage with emotional survivor testimonies, it should serve as the charity’s most effective fundraising boost since we sent all those milk bottles tops into Blue Peter.
An oasis in the summer’s arid TV landscape, Unforgotten’s third series proved every bit as compelling as its predecessors. Around a gripping central murder mystery, writer Chris Lang once again wove a tapestry of stories that probed at the faultlines of modern society, from online rage to far-right hate groups, while interrogating our flaws as human beings. Brilliant work, too, from the ensemble cast – James Fleet, in particular, is surely a shoo-in for a Bafta nomination as the damaged Chris.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, August 23, 2018
(c) Waitrose Weekend