In the year of 2020, there hasn’t been too much to celebrate, but there’s one thing for certain – Christmas TV is looking pretty good this year.
There’s a stand-out show in the BBC schedules… returning after four years is classic British game show, ___. No, it’s not Wheel Of Fortune (yet, if reports are to be believed), it’s Blankety Blank.
Bradley Walsh follows an esteemed line of hosts including Terry Wogan, Les Dawson, Lily Savage and David Walliams in presenting the tongue-in-cheek quiz for a one-off Christmas special, through it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see it commissioned for a full series after what was always guaranteed to be a successful debut for Walsh, who also once appeared as a contestant.
The premise remains the same, with little of the core show changing too much. Four contestants must try to match their Blankety Blank answers with as many of the celebrity panelists as possible. There are two rounds and the top performing duo of members of the public go head-to-head for the chance to win an inflatable hot tub and a garden pub (which, given the pandemic, are actually two very practical prizes). They also win the famous chequebook and pen, though this time it’s had an upgrade…
Emilia Fox, Amir Khan, Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr, Anita Rani, and Danny Jones sit on the panel and it has to be said, they’ve clearly all done their homework as there wasn’t really one comically daft answer between them (the less said about Fox’s rather rude rhyme though, the better). On paper, the selection of names didn’t immediately jump out as iconic Blankety Blank stars, but how wrong I was. In reality, the six confident and funny celebrities prove to be the ultimate bunch of bantering pals, and the show is elevated because of it.
But of course, the star of the show is, without a doubt, Bradders himself. Walsh is very much a man who can do no wrong and his latest presenting gig goes some way to further solidifying his role as the UK’s safest pair of hosting hands. He picks up the presenting mantle with so much ease it’s surprising he hasn’t hosted Blankety Blank before.
What’s abundantly clear throughout the short time we’re with the iconic gameshow, is how much it – and its classic counterparts – are missed. Fun, cheeky and camp humour is abundant in shows like Blankety Blank, and after a year filled with doom and gloom, it’s old-fashioned stylings go down a treat. Shows like this are made for families coming together to have a right old giggle – (older) children can laugh at Walsh’s superb physical comedy, while the adults can laugh amongst themselves at the naughtier elements of the show.
Best of all? It’s a match made in heaven for Christmas Day, when everyone’s gathered around the TV, stuffed as much as the turkey but already digging into the Quality Street. Ah, maybe a 2020 Christmas won’t be so bad after all…