King David

Monday, June 18, 2007 by

When it comes to panel games, it doesn’t really matter as to the format or the questions – probably about 95% of the appeal is down to the participants. So nobody really cares that 8 out of 10 Cats is about opinion polls – all that matters is that Sean Lock is there being funny. Hence, BBC1′s new panel game Would I Lie to You is likely to prove enjoyable due to the masterstroke of hiring David Mitchell as a team captain.

David is already a first-rate comic writer and actor but in the past year or so he’s proven to be a brilliant participant in panel games. Not since Paul Merton has someone seemed so at home behind a desk. He’s fantastically quick-witted and has a wonderful delivery, and better yet he does it all without overshadowing the game, taking advantage of his fellow guests – indeed, he’s generous in his laughter at the others – and using bad language.

On Would I Lie To You he demonstrated these talents again. He was able to take issue with Duncan Bannantyne’s claim that anyone reading his book could make a hundred million pounds – “If everyone had a hundred million pounds, won’t that be terribly inflationary?” – and brilliantly went off at a tangent when asked to guess whether Jodie Marsh’s claim to have won “nearly six pounds” on a quiz machine was true, saying “These things only pay out in quids, so the nearest thing to six pounds is five pounds! What sort of accountancy is it when five pounds is described as ‘nearly six pounds’?”

He’s also able to get laughs from his posh persona. There was a great moment when David admitted that, at the age of five, he wrote to the BBC with regards to the industrial dispute that had silenced the Play School clock (“I was a formal little thing!”), while at the end the opposition correctly guessed that David had not, as claimed, fainted in the cinema while watching Kill Bill. Brilliantly, this wasn’t because they didn’t think he’d faint in the cinema, but because they didn’t think he’d see Kill Bill, which amused David no end – “He only goes and sees silent films! He doesn’t know how to buy a ticket, the love!”

David was the best thing about Channel4′s Best of the Worst last year and he’ll be the best thing about Would I Lie To You. I hope for further success from the great man – especially as it might give him less time to do those Mac adverts.


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