Banzai (E4, 2001-2003)
When the digital channel E4 launched in 2001, among the repeats and imports, there was some space in the schedule for some original comedy programming. This included the final series of The Adam And Joe Show, and TVGoHome, but there was also this rather bizarre game show, which led to some critics saying that they were knocking spots off what some of the competition had to offer.
Banzai was essentially a parody of those Japanese game shows that were sometimes shown in this country where contestants had to endure some rather bizarre things. But this one had betting elements, and viewers were invited to guess the outcome of some rather unusual challenges. Some of these were rather bad taste, and some featured celebrities, who probably wondered what they were getting themselves into.
Look, there’s Pat Sharp! Look, there’s Peter Davison! He used to be on the telly! The challenges would be explained, we would then be asked to bet, and the outcome would be revealed. This was all usually accompanied by some breathless commentary from Harry Hill’s mate Burt Kwouk (there was no in-vision host as such). And there were also a few regular features.
These included Lady One Question, who simply asked a celebrity just one question, and viewers would have to guess how long it would be before they walked off. And there was also Mr Shake Hands Man, who would interview someone whilst shaking their hand for as long as possible. He started to become well-known to the point that he was replaced by someone else for the second series.
I also remember at the NME Awards one year somebody thought that it would be good to do this (I can’t remember if it was connected to this show or not), so there was a page with lots of short interviews that mostly consisted of “yeah, it’s been great, I’ve been having a good time… er, you can stop shaking my hand now”. 32 seconds, wow!
Viewers at home really could play along though. If they pressed the red button on their remote control, they could make their choices, and their score would be calculated and revealed at the end. I remember that I did play this once, although I don’t think I did that well. There was some merchandise released too, including a book, DVD, and even a soundtrack of the music. Banzai ran its course after a few series though.