Good game? Even Brucie would struggle to make this gripping! CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV
Alan Carr’s Picture Slam
George Michael: Portrait Of An Artist
This time last year, Liz Truss was Prime Minister. So much has happened since her brief spell in No 10, the finalists on Alan Carr’s Picture Slam (BBC1) didn’t even recognise her picture.
It could be worse. The same duo, shown a photo of Agatha Christie, guessed she was Roald Dahl. At least they didn’t mistake Liz for a male MP — Michael Fabricant, for example, or Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Quiz game host Alan was enjoying the sex-swap jokes as well. Confronted with a picture of Romesh Ranganathan presenting The Weakest Link, he quipped, ‘Anne Robinson’s changed her look.’
Alan’s got the beginnings of a good show here. But that’s all it is — the beginnings. Picture Slam would make a fun, five-minute round on Richard Osman’s quiz compendium, House Of Games.
Players have to identify four pictures in a row, anything from animals to celebrities, flags to brand labels. As the game progresses, the contestants face bigger challenges — five pictures, and then six.
So much has happened since Truss’ brief spell in No 10, the finalists on Alan Carr’s Picture Slam (BBC1) didn’t even recognise her picture
Though it’s fun to play along at first, this quickly becomes monotonous. Pairs who are eliminated take home nothing, not even a cuddly toy, and even if the finalists finish with a flourish and 12 correct answers, they collect just £10,000.
That’s a lot of money, but not life-changing, so it’s hard to care very much whether they win the jackpot.
Alan works hard, but even Bruce Forsyth would struggle to make this gripping for 45 minutes. It doesn’t help that the laughter and applause is canned, and the one-liners are heavily scripted.
When a picture of a hairless Sphinx cat flashed up, Alan declared, ‘You wouldn’t know whether to give it a saucer of milk or stuff it like a turkey.’ That gag failed to get a titter even from the laughter machine.
And in a head-to-head round, with one from each pair opting to step back from the podium, Alan recited the worst catchphrase in game show history: ‘You’ve made the decision, now take the position.’
Over on ITV, he’s been presenting revivals of some classic Saturday night quizzes, such as The Price Is Right and Play Your Cards Right. He must be awkwardly aware that Picture Slam is no match for those.
The picture presented in George Michael: Portrait Of An Artist (Ch4) was recognisable at first but became darker and less familiar towards the tragic end of the singer’s life.
This documentary, directed by Wham!’s former manager Simon Napier-Bell, featured a glittering array of George’s friends and admirers — from Stevie Wonder and Tom Robinson to Stephen Fry and Piers Morgan.
The picture presented in George Michael: Portrait Of An Artist (Ch4) was recognisable at first but became darker and less familiar towards the tragic end of the singer’s life
But it suffered from the absence of Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley or any member of George’s family. There has been a rush of films re-evaluating the star’s life, including Wham! on Netflix (which does feature Andrew) and the seedier George Michael: Outed on Channel 4, concentrating on his sexuality.
There’s also a documentary on AppleTV+ called Freedom Uncut, with narration recorded by George before his death in 2016, that includes contributions from Elton John, Tracey Emin and Jean Paul Gaultier. Clearly, a lot of competing film-makers have been courting George’s A-list friends.
For a star who unashamedly embraced pop culture, having hits with everything from disco to Christmas songs, there’s a growing tendency to paint him as a Meaningful Artiste. Each segment of this film opened with a philosophical quote from thinkers such as Sartre and George Sand.
But the prize for pretentious twaddle goes to art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, who hailed the video for one lesser hit, A Different Corner, as reminiscent of ‘a Rembrandt late self-portrait’. And he said it with a straight face.
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