Fanorama (E4, 2001-2003)
Another game show review, I hear you ask? Well, yes, indeed it is, so there. This one is notable because it’s from the early days of digital TV, when Channel 4’s companion E4 tried out a comedy panel game inbetween the imports and the adverts. Fanorama (what a great pun) was a show where people aimed to show off what they knew about their favourite subject, along with pop culture in general.
Two teams of three took part, including one team captain. Fans of a variety of things took part, from TV shows to pop groups. The captains were Rhys Thomas, who would go on to appear in sitcom Swiss Toni, and also produce other comedy shows, and David Mitchell, before he hit the big time with Peep Show and went on to appear and laugh too much on every other comedy panel game made since.
One amusing element was the captains trying to bluff their way through the show and insist they were a big a fan as their teammates. I do have a memory of when Fanorama was being promoted on E4 with a trail, Mitchell introduced a contestant by saying “and this is a fan of Britney Spears” to which this middle-aged man (dressed like Britney in the “Baby One More Time” video) interrupted “er, I actually am Britney Spears”, and they didn’t seem to be joking, it was mildly creepy.
The original host of Fanorama was Claudia Winkleman, who was replaced in the later editions by Lauren Laverne. Lots of rounds where played where the teams could show off their knowledge. One of the more bizarre rounds was where various people interpreted a pop song’s video by doing some mime, and the teams had to write down what they thought it was.
Maybe the bickering between the captains overshadowed the main game a little, amusing as it was. There was also a round where the captains took part in some comedy sketches doing some silly impressions that gained a lot of laughs, and questions were asked after. It might not seem much, but don’t forget this was the early-2000s where technology had advanced to the point where people could now download endless polyphonic ringtones, and making sure they haven’t used up all the memory in their digital camera was rather important. With possibilities like this, life in the 21st century is going to be fun.
The final round was on the buzzer, with more questions asked on the team’s subjects, with a bonus if the opposing team managed to get it right. Although the scores seemed to be made up as it went long, there were still lots of well-earned prizes on offer for both teams. Fanorama was usually shown in the afternoon, but E4 didn’t seem that interested in making any similar shows, and after it ended it’s barely been seen since.