Game Show Memories – Never Mind The Full Stops.

Never Mind The Full Stops (BBC4, 2006-2007)

When BBC4 launched back in 2002, this was the new digital channel that was “a place to think”, featuring all kinds of creative shows. These included an attempt at making some game shows, which were going to be rather different from what people might see elsewhere. Never Mind The Full Stops was a show all about the English language, focussing on things like spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

If you are one of those people who gets frustrated by there being an apostrophe in the wrong place, then this could be the one for you. In the trail for this, there are some examples of what is incorrect, including “Hare Dressers”. If you have come as far as completing the sign, you would’ve thought that somebody would’ve noticed the mistake before that.

The host was a somewhat unlikely choice, who usually didn’t work in TV in front of the camera. This was Julian Fellowes, who was better-known for being a writer, and he won an Oscar for the film Gosford Park. He then went on to further success by creating drama series Downton Abbey, which was one of the most popular TV shows of its era.

It seems that he is rather keen on people being able to use English properly, and in the time when “text talk” was becoming prominent, maybe there was a chance that we could learn something along the way. Two teams of two took part. These were celebrities who changed every week, although some appeared more than once, including Gyles Brandreth, Susie Dent, Barry Norman, and Sue Perkins.

There were various rounds, including having to put apostrophes in the right place, writing a sentence so it made sense, knowing the definitions of words, trying to determine where a dialect is from, and so on. There were points on offer, and a winning team was announced. Never Mind The Full Stops was considered by some to be one of the most absurd and dull ideas for a game show (and one of the most orange), that somehow seemed very British, and they couldn’t believe that this existed.

Somehow this extended to there being a second series (and at least one edition was repeated on BBC2). You might be beginning to wonder why I have decided to review this at all, but now here comes the twist. A while ago, my mum was in the studio audience for various radio shows, including a few comedy panel games like Just A Minute. It has to be said however that she isn’t as big a fan of TV game shows as I am.

It’s a long story, but somehow one day she ended up in the studio audience for this, just about the only TV show she went to. If you really want some gossip, there were only about 12 people in the audience, and Fellowes remembered the contestant’s names by writing them on notes that he stuck to his trousers, so when looked down he could see what they were. Not long after, Only Connect launched, BBC4 finally found a durable and challenging game show, and this nonsense was never seen again.


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