Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Top 10 - Television Panel Shows

This week I'm bringing the weekly Top 10 back to the sofa and focusing on television once again. It is the life blood of the modern generation and the panel show as a comedy/TV love child has raced onto the scene at an alarming rate in the 21st century, taking viewers by storm and encapsulating an ever returning audience. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 television panel shows...

10. Would I Lie To You?

Knowing me, I probably would. Fortunately, that wasn't a question - it's the the name of the number ten panel show on my list. 'WILTY' as I will now fondly refer to it as; is a programme featuring celebrity guests who either have to lie through their teeth with ridiculous tales or pretend to make ridiculous tales seem like lies when in fact they are actually the truth. So in the Layman's terms, the concept is simple - is the story a lie or the truth? There is no need to answer that question either by the way. It wasn't quiet rhetorical, but it definitely wasn't directed at you. 'WILTY' offers a couple of laughs for an evening in front of the television, but isn't exactly anything revolutionary. And that's why it isn't my number 1. Next!

9. The Bubble

Hosted by David Mitchell, 'The Bubble' presents three minor celebrities (usually comedians) who have been locked in confinement for a week with no access to the internet, television or radio. In short - no media coverage. They are then brought back to a studio, in which Mitchell asks them various questions regarding the week's news through a multiple choice system. As in most quiz type panel shows, none of the guests take it very seriously; playing primarily for humour; and in the end the winner never really deserves the accolade. I haven't seen the show on the air for a good few months now due to its probable decommissioning. But in my eyes, it was a minor success and well worth a watch.

8. A Question of Sport

The sports quiz panel show in which Sue Barker and regular team captains - rugby mad Matt Dawson and chirpy cricketer Phil Tufnell send 'At the Races' to the cleaners. A well rounded and 'sports icon big' programme brings together the best in the industry for twelve rounds of intense and sweaty quizzical conundrums. The contestants in this one (all being either current or ex sports men and women) actually take the show seriously, spewing out specific knowledge that I had no idea existed. Obviously being heavy on one particular field means 'QOS' isn't to everyone's taste, but I enjoy if for its perfect mix of meaty sports nourishment and humorous banter. They may have just hit a hole in one.

7. 8 out of 10 Cats

Jimmy Carr's perilously close to unairable stance on comedy, this time sets its beady eyes on the world of Friday night panel shows. In '8 out of 10 Cats,' celebrities (who would have guessed it) clamber into the lime light in response to current affairs and quirky statistics. Thankfully Carr's foul mouthed repetitious is shunned by a moderately light hearted approach to comedy in this show, making for a very comfortable evening viewing. It is however a long running concept which is in my view coming to a slow end. As competing shows arrive with fresh ideas, cats seems to be lying at the sidelines struggling to come up with anything new. Shamefully meowing at number 7, it seems to have honourably run its course.

6. Whose Line is it Anyway?

Again, this is not another question but the title of the hilariously imaginative improvisation show. 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' brings together the greatest physical comedians in the business, with a plot line waiting to explode. In each episode, audience members get to choose many of the scenarios that the comedians in turn have to act out. The unplanned nature of the programme is what makes it so terrific, with the sound effects round sending me into stitches every time. The US version is undoubtedly more exhilarating than its British counterpart, but both are more than definitely worth a watch. I cannot justify through words how funny this programme can be. Watch it if you get a chance.

5. Shooting Stars

'Shooting Stars' presents Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in the quintessentially odd panel show featuring current score keeper Angelos Epithemiou and captains Ulrika Jonsson and Jack Dee. Its twisted approach to comedy is what clinches 'Shooting Stars' fifth place in the list, reinforced by Angelos' dead pan and combustible persona as the hilarious points hoarder. A slice of Reeves' and Mortimer's world is essentially what you get with the show, and half an hour is all you really need before finding yourself fixated to the screen in a daze of confusion. Some of the antics they pull have no real meaning or explanation and in saying that, I still haven't quite worked out what Matt Lucas' previous score keeper character (George Dawes) actually signified. An overweight five foot baby dressed in a sleep suit whilst playing drums was all a little too much for my mind to comprehend.

4. The Big Fat Quiz of the Year

After Christmas is over, and the whole family seems to be down in the dumps with the realisation that a return to work is just around the corner, there is one reprieve - that being the gloriously exciting 'Big Fat Quiz of the Year.' 'BFQOTY,' which as an abbreviation I admit looks laughably stupid, gives Jimmy Carr his headline gig of the television calender with the help of a panel consisting of three comedic duos (basically Noel Fielding, that guy out the IT Crowd, Jonathan Ross when he's not in jail and a few others). It lasts ages, is a great watch and brings back to life some of the forgotten memories of the previous year. It should be seasonal tradition to watch it.

3. Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Never mind watching anything else, let's get on to never minding those Buzzcocks! This show gives music a new identity and I genuinely think every round is my favourite. The differing guests and hosts from week to week give the programme a new spin on every episode, making it so unique in the way the producers have decided to present the show. Noel Fielding has become part of the furniture as a team captain on Buzzcocks, as has opposing leader Phil Jupitus. Both have differing comedic approaches, which respectively work impeccably. The last series of the show was my favourite by some margin and in all honesty, it can only get better. Roll on more musical mayhem please.

2. Mock the Week

'Mock the Week' is undoubtedly the most popular panel show out there at the moment, or at least was a year or two ago. Even after Frankie Boyle's untimely departure from the programme, it still maintained its humour and wit - replacing Boyle with a whole host of new and hilarious talent. Careers for some of the guest on 'MTW' have been made from appearing on the show and the thorough bred talent we see on our screens in recent episodes is comedic gold. The rounds are formulated to suit all of the guest's styles and the final stage of the show (in which comedians comment on a particular 'scene we'd like to see') almost always raises the roof through laughter. You can't mock it, you can only applaud it.

1. QI

Stephen Fry's masterpiece of intellect and humour breaths new life on to the television panel show. It is hard to explain the interest I have in 'QI,' because it interests me so much. It not only teaches me new and different things, it also provides me with the laughs (primarily thanks to Alan Davies) that I expect from all other shows of the same ilk. The concoction created through these two fundamentals intertwined make for an unmistakably fascinating programme. Bravo QI, bravo.

Want more Top 10s? Click HERE.


  1. Couldn't agree more, then again... under my construction cats would have been a little higher :P... However, QI undoubtedly rocks!

  2. This blog is really awesome and it's very interesting to read...Thanks!

    Sharp Mobile Prices