The Bubble (BBC2, 2010)
A huge amount of comedy panel games have come and gone over the years, but this one had a more interesting idea than most, and it was rather a shame that there was only one series. The Bubble was hosted by David Mitchell. Each week, three celebrities took part, and for four days they have to live in a house together that is cut off from the outside world, with no access to any sources of information whatsoever.
This means that they have no TV, radio, newspapers, or internet, and just like Big Brother, they have to pass the time with each other, and hopefully none of them will end up doing a runner. This is because the idea of the show is that they will be given news stories, and they will have to work out which ones really were reported throughout the week while they were locked away, but as fact can be stranger than fiction, this won’t be as easy as it seems.
After re-entering the world, they had various rounds, including one where they were shown three news reports. As some of them would be on things that hadn’t really happened, they would have to be faked especially for the show. While ITN and Sky took part in these, rather oddly the BBC wouldn’t let any of their reporters take part. This was then turned into a story itself, and none of the panellists guessed that this was true.
There is another round that is rather similar, featuring three newspaper articles, and again having to guess the one that was really featured. Mitchell hosts this show in his usual style, and it was rather amusing when he started to pick apart the format. I know that in radio comedy panel game The Unbelievable Truth, which he also hosted, he occasionally liked to discuss the flaws in the rules, and it was rather unusual to hear a host do that.
Between rounds, we also saw some brief highlights of what the panellists had got up to while they were in the house, and this was always seemed to deliberately be the most boring thing that they did, whether it was something like playing a board game, or reading a book. There was also an amusing edition when Mitchell’s old mate Robert Webb was a panellist, and he teased him in an “I know something you don’t” style.
The Bubble is a format that has been sold around the world, and I thought that this was good enough for there to be a second series, but rather surprisingly there wasn’t one. It turned out that BBC2 were keen to continue, but the rather busy Mitchell was unavailable, as he was working on another project, and that was the end of that really. Not long after the end though, there was a short repeat run on Dave.