Friday, March 05, 2010

Only Connect, the best programme on television

With the BBC deciding to kill off one of its best bits of expansionism, 6 Music (home of Pavement Panto fans Adam and Joe), we can only hope the cull doesn’t extend to the finest programme on television – by which I obviously refer to Only Connect.

Cunningly scheduled to begin on BBC 4 just as University Challenge finishes on 2, and heralded by a similar diddle-diddle theme maintaining the mood of slightly supercilious, peering-over-spectacles, tea-and-scone civility, much as one might find at feeding time in the Pump Rooms at Bath (though better than the daytime-ish comfort mush that introduces Fry-fest QI), Only Connect is a brainteaser quiz. It’s quite tricky, you have to connect stuff like Tube lines if they were translated into the colours of snooker balls and whatnot - though I get more answers than I do on University Challenge these days (those students seem to get quicker every year…hullo, perhaps A-levels aren’t being dumbed down at all!). I haven’t yet devised a similar drinking game for it. Only Connect’s contestants are not unlike those on University Challenge only older, smugger and arranged in trios with something nerdish in common. "The Steam Railway Enthusiasts" might take on the "Series 1 to 4 of Red Dwarf Fans", for example. The team members always look like each other regardless of age or gender though sometimes the connections between them are pretty weak, such as that they all like quizzes containing the sorts of questions that are asked on Only Connect. It cannot be long before the “Only Connect Would-be Contestants” take on the “Victoria Cohen Coren Admirers.”

I for one would be proud to join the latter team. Victoria Coren is a lovely poker-player, daughter of the late Alan Coren (a witty, likeable columnist and celebrity) and sister of Giles Coren (a columnist and celebrity). She is the presenter of Only Connect. In both looks and in the timbre of her voice Victoria is striking in her resemblance to the actress Joan Greenwood (who was, by the way, surely one of the very worst British actresses to have appeared on the silver screen, her mannered delivery wrecking The Importance of Being Earnest and threatening but not quite bringing down Kind Hearts and Coronets).

Also striking is the lack of a studio audience. Only Connect is a clap-free zone. This makes a refreshing change since most shows, such as Celebrity Family Fortunes or Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Plebian Clap-A-Long consist of little else. (Wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment, though, to film Family Fortunes without the audience? The processes of the show – playing or passing, attempting to ‘steal’ - would take on an air of business-like gravitas; the inexplicably daft answers - “Name a Shakespeare play”, “Baa baa black sheep” - would produce just tense sighs and glares from team-mates; best of all, a good twenty minutes would be shaved off the running time.)

The empty studio on Only Connect means that Victoria’s little witticisms and monologues are greeted with nothing but self-conscious chortling and snickering from the Railway Enthusiasts and Red Dwarf Fans. It’s infectious; I find myself self-consciously chortling and snickering along often. But then they are unusually good witticisms and monologues. Viva Vic. Well anyway, that’s Only Connect, it’s very British, check it out. Hang on I probably need one of these (thanks, Outer Spaceman)…


Gareth Williams said...

Must check that one out. But we're usually so spent after University Challenge I'm not sure we'd be able to give it our best.

La Coren (as I feel she should be addressed) is also a director and author of pornography, is she not? What a a string to have on your fiddle.

David said...

It cannot be long before the “Only Connect Would-be Contestants” take on the “Victoria Cohen Admirers.”

I believe that there's a telling typo there.

(Some comments are born, some comments are achieved, and some comments are thrust upon us.)

Brit said...

Gaw - so it appears. A lady of many parts.

David - more Freud, eh? Don't flatter yourself. And I have to leave it in, now.

Recusant said...

Brit, she may not have been RADA's finest, but Joan Greenwood's voice was sexy as hell.

2202 said...

It is a good quiz, but I just can't stand VC. Get me someone else!

sildenafil citrate said...

WHAT IS DOING BBC decided to kill one of his best parts of expansionism, 6 Music (home of Pavement fans Panto Adam and Joe), we can only hope the sacrifice does not extend to the best programs on television