Graham Norton is here to play so…

Saturday, December 31, 2005 by

It takes an awful lot to make you pine for Jim Davidson, but Graham Norton damn near managed it with Generation Fame. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this whole dismal exercise was that you knew exactly what it was going to be like beforehand, and yet the Gen Game still had enough goodwill in the tank to make you give it a go.

It’s pretty clear they wanted to Strictly-fy the old format, but the brilliant thing about Strictly Come Dancing is that, for all the kitsch element, it’s played exactly straight, whereas Generation Fame was presented entirely in quotation marks and ironic glitter. They even roped in Bruno from Strictly Come Dancing to “choreograph” the contestants through the inevitable dance-off, but given that this turned out to be blokes in drag arseing about for two minutes, what was the point?

Graham Norton can truly be a dreadful host when he tries, here shrieking and corpsing at all his own “jokes” and taking the piss out of Belgians. The conveyor belt prizes turned out to be vaguely ironic gifts for members of the audience, enabling Graham to mock them in that inimitable style which peaked in about 2001. The hateful Johnny Vegas, bad sight of the week any time he turns up, lolled on to charmlessly bellow and shout his way through an interminable pottery game.

And yet … some of the games still had a bit of that old Gen Game magic, not least Harry Hill playing the theme from Animal Hospital on a load of car horns – essentially the exact same game as Larry Grayson in a chef’s hat played with a load of pots and pans all those years ago. The skipping game, and the bloke who painted upside down, essentially it could have all come from a Saturday night in 1978, proving again what a robust format this is.

But it was so slow, the game forever mired in Graham’s humourless meanderings, and his pointless interaction with the audience member who’d been plucked to keep the scores in a “funny” costume. Even at 77, Brucie CBE would still have made a better job of it. Graham, shut that door on your way out.


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