Did I imagine this, or did it really happen?

Saturday night, remote in hand, flicking the channels. X Factor comes on, and three thoughts rapidly line up in my mind:

a) Cheryl Cole needs a good meal.

b) Cheryl Cole needs a hairdresser who’s willing to tell her that less is more.

c) Cheryl Cole needs subtitles.

Anyway, it’s not worth watching after the audition stages. Thank heavens Strictly is back.

But the hell with that, what I really wanted to see was the Beeb’s new celebrity game show Hole In The Wall. Having had my curiosity piqued by Charlie Brooker’s preview, I was dying to see if it was really as transcendentally stupid as Charlie reckoned.

Well, yes it was. Perhaps even more so. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a show open-mouthed because you literally can’t believe what’s going on, but this is probably the first time since Cheggers’ Naked Jungle that I’ve done so. Hole In The Wall goes beyond simple stupidity, to being so unbelievably dumb it’s almost brilliant.

Let Charlie explain the high-concept format:

It’s been described as “human Tetris”, which it is. Each week, two teams of celebrity contestants go head to head. One-by-one, the players stand on a pad in front of a pool while a wall moves slowly toward them, ready to shovel them into the water. The wall has a hole in it. A person-shaped hole. The sort of hole Wile E Coyote would leave in the side of a cliff when blasted through it by a cannon. The contestant has to contort themselves into the right position, like a key going through a lock, so the wall can pass them by without knocking them into the drink.

Yes, and that’s it. You think there’ll be some clever twist or something, but that’s it. The celeb gets into the correct shape and goes through the hole, or gets drenched. Usually they get drenched.

This whole farrago, by the way, is hosted by Dale Winton, who must be wondering where he went wrong, and what he has to do to get back onto quality shows like Supermarket Sweep. And the contestants included the dead giveaways of Andi Peters and Anton Du Beke, both renowned for their willingness to appear in any old tosh. I was actually wondering a little about Andi, who’s a high-powered executive these days and has surely earned some credibility by making the final of Celebrity Masterchef. But then I remembered him falling on his arse in Dancing On Ice, and it all made sense.

Oh, and the outfits. The outfits really are something else. Hideous wouldn’t be putting it too strongly. Our celebs need to be wearing something waterproof, so they’re bedecked in what appear to be silvery Lycra jumpsuits. And not the flattering kind of Lycra. When Zoe Salmon is wearing skintight Lycra and even she doesn’t look good, then you know something is very very wrong. Not to mention the cycling helmets, so the teams begin to bear a startling resemblance to the good old Smash Martians.

When I was watching this, my first instinct was to record it for posterity on the grounds that surely it couldn’t last long, and surely even the most desperate celebs with the most ruthless agents would begin to dry up. I’m not sure about this in retrospect. There is something appealing about the sheer dopiness of the show, so it may actually catch on, especially if the students decide it’s ironic. And then you consider the list of people you could reliably count on to volunteer for the most stupid game show imaginable. John Barrowman? Kerry Katona? Indeed, what of the mighty Cheggers? And that’s before you even start thinking of the Big Brother and X Factor retreads.

By the bye, if Japanese TV has an equivalent of Chris Tarrant, they should think about buying up the rights immediately. In fact, and thanks to Martin for pointing this out, it’s an adaptation of a Japanese format. You know, I thought there was a definite Tarrant on TV quality about proceedings.


  1. September 23, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Sweet heavens man, whatever happened to your website? It was once gorgeous and now is bland. For the sake of the stars, I implore you, return the former format immediately!

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 23, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Have no fear, just a little tinkering. Although if a suitably garish format catches my eye, I’m making no promises.

  3. harpymarx said,

    September 23, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I am disappointed in you Splintered One, Strictly Come Dancing…. tut and I thought you would cheerin’ those wannabes at the X-Factor auditions. Though i do agree about Cheryl’s hair tho’…. My mum used to say all a woman needs is a good haircut and polished pair of shoes to look good. My mum spoke a lot of crap mind you.

    Ahh, the delights of Saturday prime time telly…!!

  4. Martin Wisse said,

    September 23, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Japanese television needs to buy up these rights? Where the hell do you think the BBC got the idea from in the first place?

    There were “wacky” youtube videos of the original version all over the interwebs a year or so ago.

  5. Madam Miaow said,

    September 23, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Lycra jumpsuits? Holy Miaow! This takes me back to …. a ba-a-a-ad place. The last time we registered shiny lycra jumpsuits on the telly they were crushing the ball-bags of our favourite Rees nemesisisisisisis!

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 24, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Yes, well picture that and then picture one of the Hairy Bikers in George’s place, and you won’t be far off.

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