Blankety Blank 2020 Christmas Special revives the gameshow which, prior to this, was only ever good in its original form with Terry Wogan, from 1979-1983, before Les Dawson took over the year after, somehow making even more episodes overall.
Another time to forget was Paul O’Grady as Lily Savage, but now it’s the turn of Bradley Walsh, stalwart of ITV’s The Chase, and somehow the best thing in the recent incarnation of Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker and the two planks of wood joining them in the TARDIS, who go by the name of Ryan and Yaz.
At this point in the planet’s cycle, the best host for a knockabout quiz is probably Bradley Walsh. When ITV tried a 10pm chat show a few years ago, his week (out of 8 potential guests) showed that he was the best option. Sadly, the first week opened with David Walliams in a dress, and the viewers were as scared as the children he would frighten if he ever went up to talk to any of them.
What’s most surprising about this revamp is that, while the original show was 30 minutes, this is only extended to… 35. I’m surprised they’ve not spun it out for an hour. Everything else is. That said, I remember they did that with Mel & Sue’s attempt at the Generation Game, and that was too long. It was just basically two lots of contestants, from what I remember, hence two shows in one.
Anyhoo, when it comes to the guests, Danny Jones is the token guest who no-one’s ever heard of; Sue Perkins is someone I do find funny; Jimmy Carr less so as he does have talent, but he’s been resting on his laurels for years with Channel 4 gameshows; Amir Khan makes a living out of beating people in the head (and they complain about footballers getting dementia from heading a ball?!); Emilia Fox is an actress, and the sixth guest is Anita Rani, who’s somehow crafted a living out of presenting pointless TV shows. I first remember her on BBC3’s Destination Three, which had the standard channel’s fare linked in the same way which made Channel 4’s T4 strand lookintelligent, and its presenters look intellectual.
One week, Anita blessed us with the invitation to text in pictures of ourselves, by giving the phone number and enthusing, “Text ‘ME’,that’s M.E… (laughs) Not the disease!!“, etc.
She has such little talent, it’s like she was hired to fill a diversity gap, and never found the exit.
Aside from that, social distancing means the guests are about 300 miles apart on the set.
While the main games are exactly the same (each contestant has two attempts to score 6 points – one being circles and one being triangles), and the Supermatch Game goes up in scoring from 50, 100 and 150 points, absolutely zero thought has gone into the prizes. For the first two tiers, you win money… (tumbleweed for originality!), and 150 points would win a hot tub – which hardly anyone has room for, so it’s the equivalent of Bullseye’s speedboat.
Perhaps the only difference is that the Supermatch board is computerised rather than having someone pull pieces of card to reveal the answers.
Overall: Well, it’ll pass some time.
Blankety Blank 2020 Christmas Special is on Christmas Day on BBC1 at 7pm. The series is unlikely to ever be on Blu-ray and DVD, but you can watch each episode after broadcast on the BBC iPlayer.
Director: Richard Valentine
Producer: Emily Pickthall
Presenter: Bradley Walsh
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.