Sitcom Showdown (UKTV Gold, 2006)
UK Gold (as it used to be called) was a channel that used to show various classic TV series before they just started to show the same sitcoms all day. Occasionally they have recycled their archive for a game show format. In the 90s there was Tellystack (that I reviewed a while ago), and there were also Classic Comeback with Les Dennis, Great Wall Of Comedy, and this one.
Now this was rather interesting because it was all about sitcoms and hosted by Danny Baker, who really did have a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject, and he could be described as full of information and even a walking BBC Genome (well probably). And I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this one was produced by his old mate Chris Evans’s production company.
Danny was clearly into his comedy and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the nostalgia shows he hosted in the 90s including TV Heroes and Bygones where where he would randomly give out bonus points if people knew who Peter Glaze was. Sitcom Showdown came across as a sort-of more surreal version of Telly Addicts, looked like it was taking place in Danny’s front room, and featured two teams of three that contained a self-confessed sitcom superfan.
Each team represented a sitcom such as Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, Only Fools And Horses, Yes, Minister, and so on, all of the big hitters that also conveniently filled most of the channel’s schedule at the time. The superfans would play alongside a B-and-a-bit-list celebrity, Sue Perkins, Linda Robson, those type of people. There were five rounds.
In the first, they watched clips of their favourite sitcom, and then answered a few questions about them. Round two was like Call My Bluff, where daft sitcom ideas were discussed, and their opponents had to guess which one was made up. Round three is where they have to re-enact a classic scene from their chosen sitcom with only a few props, and they are then given points on how well they did.
Round four featured the opening sequence of a sitcom and the theme of another, and they had to guess both. The final round was quickfire. Answer questions on their own sitcom, or on others for bonuses. The winning team with the highest score were rightfully proud and won a terrible prize, while the losers would have endless shame heaped upon them.
Danny’s hosting was much praised by critics, saying that he was “a true professional” and “an effortless combination of humour and erudition”, as he made it look easy. That makes it all the more surprising that there were only five editions of Sitcom Showdown, and Danny himself said that he thought the format was “a stinker”. Unfortunately doing a podcast from his shed is the best work that he can hope for nowadays.