Richard Osman: why Pointless will never leave the BBC

The quiz show co-host explains that the BBC series won’t go the same way as Bake Off or The Voice UK

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Richard Osman, the 6ft 7in obscure answer master of game show Pointless, has said the quiz won’t be moving from the BBC “as long as the viewers want it”. 

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Speaking in this week’s issue of Radio Times, the co-host said the show would stay on the BBC after the current deal between the corporation and production company Endemol – of which he’s creative director – ends this series.

“I think Pointless is a BBC show, and will remain a BBC show,” said Osman. “Look, we live in a very different TV environment now. The move of Bake Off [to Channel 4] I understand, The Voice UK [to ITV] I understand. But there would be no commercial reason to move Pointless, and we’d never want to because the BBC have backed it from day one – from BBC2 to BBC1 and to Saturday-night specials, they’ve looked after it.”

He added: “I think we have a duty of care to the people who watch it on BBC1 to say we’ll do it on this channel for as long as you want it.” 

The Voice UK, produced by Wall to Wall and Talpa Productions, left the corporation in 2016 after five series when the BBC chose not to pay “inflated prices” for the show, in the words of then-acting director of television Mark Linsey. The latest series of the singing talent contest began on ITV last weekend.

And The Great British Bake Off, made by Love Productions, moved minus Mel, Sue and Mary to Channel 4 late last year after the broadcaster outbid the BBC. At the time, the Beeb released a statement saying their “resources are not infinite”.

Osman – who has also served as executive producer on a number of series – has his own take on two of the BBC’s biggest shows jumping ship: 

“The BBC used to be a huge production powerhouse, and now isn’t so much. Most of the independent production companies are run by ex-BBC staffers. But the big story is that ITV is now essentially what the BBC used to be: a series of production companies that they own and commission through. It’s now very hard for an indie to get a show on ITV, but much easier to get one on the BBC. Which is a complete reversal of how it used to be.” 

However, for the time being, it’s not an industry change Osman and co-host Alexander Armstrong will be worrying about. The pair will present their 1000th episode of Pointless next Monday – with a slight twist: Osman will be the main presenter of the show, swapping his desk and prop laptop with Armstrong.

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It’s going to be weird.

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Pointless is on 5.15pm weekdays, BBC1