500 Questions and Spotless. ITV’s dazzling double bill bores for Britain

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500 Questions and Spotless. ITV’s dazzling double bill bores for Britain

August 23, 2016 - 18:06
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Which is worse? ITV’s new quiz show 500 Questions or ITV’s new game show Spotless? Hard to say. Let’s call it a deadbeat heat. They’re both awful.


Which is worse? ITV’s new quiz show 500 Questions or ITV’s new game show Spotless? Hard to say. Let’s call it a deadbeat heat. They’re both awful.

Make that 502 questions. Because I’ve got two more. What the hell is this mundane confusathon doing clogging up the airwaves at prime time? And why on earth is gastro-geek Giles Coren hosting the damn thing? He’s like his late, great dad Alan without the humour and his sister Victoria minus the charm.

But if you think this tedious, blue neon nightmare is as bad as it gets, the profoundly pathetic Spotless may just change your mind. Definitely one of worst programmes ever made. So boring it hurts.

It’s Saturday night and Essex sweethearts Mercedes and Brad are playing catch with balloons full of paint. And they keep dropping them. Er… that’s it. That’s entertainment.

When he finally prevents one from bursting, Brad gasps: “Straight into my hands. I’m buzzing.” The long-suffering viewers… not so much. Following the crappy couple’s life-sapping battle to stay clean, the paint is drying and guess who’s watching it? Us. For now.

When this grotesquely gormless game mercifully grinds to a halt, our paint spattered heroes enter a chamber full of “revolutionary technology to determine how spotless they really are”. Take it away Mercedes: “66 per cent! You can’t do better than that can you?” Yes.

Clearly, Vernon Kay wasn’t available so there’s no host. Just an annoying faux dramatic deep American voiceover guy. “Next,” he booms. “We break out the big guns as the players go head to head.” The sense of occasion is non-existent. Non-event TV.

Dressed in white body suits, the cackling contestants prance around a white studio trying to avoid brightly coloured paint. You can’t imagine how exciting it is. Or rather, you probably can. It isn’t.

Luckily, the dazzling dialogue really lifts the proceedings. Here’s Geordie hopeful Elliott explaining the high-concept Rope Maze: “There’s pink ropes, blue ropes, red ropes… there’s lots of ropes.” I think I understand.

This ropey rubbish stands about as much chance of becoming a hit as a new single by Gary Glitter. Which clueless clot decided this guaranteed mega flop was a good idea? One of those clever telly types who thinks the audience are all utter morons? They’re not. And that’s why brainless Spotless is doomed.

In fairness, 500 Questions is a tad more highbrow than people chucking paint at each other. But if the top team at ITV reckon they’ve found their new Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? they’ve got another thing coming.

At the helm, high voiced Coren has all the charisma of an earthworm. To make matters even worse, he’s not funny. And the ludicrously complicated game itself has more rules than chess.

Over to you, Giles: “The board also contains traps. There are lightning runs, there are triple traps, there are battles against the challenger… they’re not good news.” You can say that again. What’s he talking about?

The basic idea is to not get three general knowledge teasers in a row wrong. If you do, you’re out. The questions aren’t easy. That’s why most of the dim contestants just belt out any old words on the off chance they might be right.

Who was the first figure skater to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award? Memo to admin assistant Nu… it was John Curry, not X Factor hopeful Rebecca Ferguson.

Who played the headmistress in the St Trinian’s films? Nu: “Maria Smith, Lucy Wire… er.” Simply making up names. What 1950s puppet had friends called Teddy and Looby Loo? Nu: “Potter something.” No, Andy Pandy.

But when Dame Edna lookalike Mickie comes along the prize money is finally at risk. A children’s author anxious to prove that “wrinklies have brains” she walks away with £12,000.

Filmed in Cologne before a muted studio audience of Germans who probably can’t understand a word, this underwhelming nightly unspectacular is dreadfully dreary. Just because it enjoyed some success in America doesn’t mean it will prosper on this side of the pond. It’s a mediocre daytime show they’re screening way too late.

But back to the sensational Spotless where, confident that he will triumph in the stupid paint-based challenge ahead, Elliott declares: “It is so on!” Unlike the TV sets all over the land which by now are so off. Click.