Before watching The Button, my expectations were, perhaps understandably, rather low.
Brand new TV entertainment formats that look and sound a bit like this often end up falling flat – Don’t Scare the Hare anyone? Genuinely interesting new game show concepts are a rare breed – but luckily, this is one of them.
Billed as a cross between Gogglebox and Taskmaster, The Button sees five families sit around a box called The Button in their own living rooms (Gogglebox) as they are given instructions to go head-to-head in very silly games, attempting to outsmart their opponents and win money (Taskmaster).
Episode one stars the Halls, the Ward and the Mills, the Marchants, the Garstons and the McCulloughs, who have to perform low-budget tasks including getting a ping pong ball in a cup, putting forks on a plate or reciting the alphabet backwards (without any vowels) in the fastest time possible.
If that sounds a bit too naff, it isn’t. The show is helped hugely by the involvement of the ever-brilliant Alex Horne, who delivers a big dose of irreverent humour to a programme which (in the wrong hands) could easily tip into cheesy, lazy dullness. As the voice inside The Button, he’s pared down, purposely underwhelmed, adding a much-needed zing to the show.
As well as Horne’s one-liners and seeing the families running around like blue-arsed flies, the hidden genius of the show is how, much like Taskmaster, it so unforgivably reveals the contestants’ flaws. When under pressure, even the most intelligent become blithering idiots in the face of simple instructions.
Scheduled in a similar Friday night slot to Gogglebox and from production company Avalon (who also make Taskmaster and Modern Life is Goodish), the show is surprisingly simple and effective. Chuck in an amiable mix of contestants, a good twist at the end for the winner and a roomful of giant inflatables, and the result is a surprisingly good Friday night game show.
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