Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mike Read returns

An email from James Page, which deserves to be shared in full:

I'm at a loss to describe what I've just seen... I was channel-hopping this evening when I stumbled across 'Red TV' (Sky 186), one of those channels whose main purpose seems to be to rebroadcast the 'Psychic Interactive' feed and 'Crown Court' repeats. But it gets better. At around 6pm every Saturday on Red TV, you can enjoy 'Mike Read's Pop Quiz'.

Sadly, this is not a genius bit of nostalgia scheduling, repeating old episodes of a classic show in its original timeslot, like 'Vault TV' did with The Chart Show. Oh no. Mike Read has actually come back and remade 'Mike Read's Pop Quiz'. And it's genuinely jaw-dropping TV.

Gone are the celebrity guests like Meatloaf and One Of Kane Gang. Gone are the big sets and funky production techniques. In comes a quaint little pub quiz with two teams of ordinary people (complete with comedy pub-quiz team-names), staged in an all-purpose studio which looks like how I imagine those karaoke booths which let you record your own CD, only with the sound quality of a dictaphone. Read himself sits in front of a small flat-screen TV which displays a Powerpoint demonstration of each question, and both teams of three perch behind tiny desks just about big enough for one. Awkward witty banter abounds.

Really, you have to see it to believe it. Please set yourself a reminder to watch next Saturday's episode. You will not be disappointed (by which I mean you *will* be disappointed, but won't be disappointed by failing to be disappointed). It's so completely strange to see a once-huge TV show brought back in such Tesco-Value style. It's startlingly reminiscent of the time Alan Partridge tried to recreate his chat-show in the travel tavern.

Sadly the set isn't constructed by Read himself from assorted chocolate products.

Presumably they'd use the old Mike Read Pop Quiz board game, only he was made promises about storage that he was let down by...

Talking of Pop Quiz - and bless you, James, for giving us an excuse to bring this to the table - OddBob0 has posted this to YouTube: footage of him playing, well, Mike Read's Pop Quiz - the ZX Spectrum version [Possibly more fun to listen to with the sound off, to be honest]:

We're trying to work out who the faces you can choose for your team are - Marilyn, certainly; is that Hank Marvin or Pete Waterman with the glasses?


Anonymous said...

There was also a BBC1 revival of Pop Quiz in 1994, but that I think was hosted by Chris Tarrant, back when he was struggling to find a successful TV format - and I swear that one of the guests was Jarvis Cocker, *before* Pulp had gone stellar.

Mike Read's day job these days, of course, is as morning presenter on the extraordinary Big L radio station, which redefines the meaning of the word "naff" on all levels (as featured in that Harvey Goldsmith C4 prog).

Chris Brown said...

Yes, that's right about the revival - Mark Sturdy's very thorough book dates it to the summer of 1994, ie after the first couple of hits but before 'Common People'. Jarvis was apparently teamed up with Chesney Hawkes and Des'ree to take on the might of Marcella Detroit, Toby Jepson and Patric from Worlds Apart. I promise I'm not making any of this up.

I do remember seeing one episode while I was visiting somebody in hospital. But I can't swear that it was that one.

Anonymous said...

Crumbs, I remember the Jarvis episode very clearly (he was great, of course). I did think it came back again a few years after that, but I've just realised that I'm confusing it with 'A Question of Pop', a short-lived (but quite good) Jamie Theakston vehicle which closely followed the 'Question of Sport' format, up to the 'Mystery Guest' round, but not including jocular team-mates craning their heads upside down to get better views of the photos in the Numbers Board round. Or Pringle sweaters.

Anyhoo, thanks for printing the story! Please, I implore everyone reading this to watch or record channel 186 next Saturday at 6pm. You will be amazed. And we could probably double the viewing figures too.

Chris Brown said...

I don't remember A Question Of Pop, but I do remember Pop Down The Pub on some cable channel late at night, presented by Phil Alexander who was editing Kerrang!! at the time. And didn't Noddy Holder do some really shoddy one on Men & Motors for a while?

Anonymous said...

Pop Down the Pub was aces! As was the follow-up, Popped In Crashed Out (different only in name, I think). The guest contestants were always brilliantly unguessable (the bassist from the Pecadilloes, one of the Voodoo Queens, the brother of the drummer from Mambo Taxi etc), and Phil Alexander made a great host. I think around the same time, he was a regular guest ('Cultural attaché') on Mary Anne-Hobbs' Radio 1 show when she took over from Mark Radcliffe.

Man alive, I miss late-night ITV. 'Bingo Night Live' just isn't the same.

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