Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman long to make a children’s version of their hugely successful quiz show Pointless but the BBC have vetoed the idea.
“I think it would be absolutely brilliant but we are not allowed to do it,” explained Osman, speaking at a Radio Times event at Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday. “We ask all the time. There are all sorts of BBC guidelines that say you’re not allowed to give money to children, you’re not allowed to put children under pressure, and things like that. They won’t let us do it.”
They’ve tried circumventing the guidelines by suggesting prize money is awarded to schools instead – to no avail. “We have honestly suggested everything. I would love to do it because so many kids watch it and kids are so brilliant at quizzes. It would be perfect. I would adore it to do it but we’re not allowed.”
Under-16s are not even allowed to be in the audience.
Osman also revealed that it takes twice as long to film a celebrity episode and their famous guests always bend the rules. “Everyone is mic-ed up so we can hear everything people are saying even if they’re whispering. I’ve never seen or heard anyone on the non-celebrity one cheat. I’ve never had an episode of Pointless Celebrities where someone hasn’t tried to cheat.”
Among the most blatant cheaters – Armstrong confided – were veteran double-acts Bobby Davro and Kenny Lynch, and Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball: conferring and then acting innocent when confronted. However, the quiz masters denied that the questions are “dumbed down” in celebrity episodes.
“We don’t but it seems like we do,” said Osman, eyes twinkling. “It is on Saturday nights so we try and have more entertainment questions. That’s the official line.”
At one stage the pair worried Pointless – which started life on BBC2 – would not survive the move to BBC1 and subsequently to Saturday evenings. In fact, it’s continued to be hugely successful both at home and abroad: the format been sold to 400 countries and another 204 episodes have been ordered by the BBC.
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