“ Genre: Game Show / Broadcaster: BBC4 / Game show in which celebrities must answer questions set by the public. „
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We Need Answers is an untypical quiz show, currently in its second series and being shown on BBC Four at various times.
Hosted by stand-up comic Mark Watson, the idea is that two 'celebrity' contestants answer questions that were originally sent to the text answering service 63336. Watson is ably supported by two other established circuit stand-up comedians - Alex Horne and the winner of the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Prize - Tim Key.
Against a retro type orange and white background - Horne's role is to supply the simplistic type computer graphics that appear on the back of the stage to accompany the questions, apparently via a laptop also on the stage. Key is the question master, positioning himself between the two contestants on the stage by the means of an armchair that shoots through from the back of the set.
As you might guess by now this is not a convention celebrity quiz show by any means. It has a slightly surreal tone to it , not altogether dissimilar from Shooting Stars with the feel of spoof educational science show 'Look Around You' to a certain degree.
There is a lot of charm in this show, added to by the conscious awkwardness of Key and Horne, in particular.
Each show has a theme, eg love, Christmas on which the celebrities have to answer questions. The identity of the 'celebrities' varies wildly and is extremely eclectic - eg Vanessa Feltz, Germaine Greer, Miranda Hart, Kristen O'Brien, Martin Offiah. What is important is that the guests take it in the spirit that it is meant and any mocking tends to be affectionate and ribbing rather than malicious.
Sometimes the rounds themselves are introduced by silly dances and songs such as the "lets meet the contestants" with which the studio audience get involved (and which I currently have going around in my head!) Contestants get points for being right or 'quite right'.
There are a number of rounds. Firstly, 'Burning Themes and Fiddly Questions' - a straightforward question and answer round. Secondly there is 'You or Him/Her' where the questions can elect to answer questions on themselves or the other contestant. 'The Physical Challenge round' in which the contestants compete in a daft activity, to give an example would ruin the surprise! Then its the 'Quick Fire Meltdown Round' where each contestant tries to as many questions correctly as they can against the clock. The final round is the 'House Prize Showdown' where the winning contestant wagers the game on the chance to win a branded piece of 'We Need Answers' tat.
As i have alluded to previously this review, this is full of charm. The silliness is tempered by a real sense of fun and affection. And the interaction between the three hosts is great and quite naturalistic. Watson, Key and Horne are all perfect foils for each other. Key is particularly good, I had only ever seen him on TV performing poetry on 'Charlie Brooker's 'Screenwipe' and was not a huge fan, but here he is really very good.
And, of course, I find this show to be very, very funny. Even the first series which consisted of 3 pilot episodes was remarkably accomplished and well put together.
I personally only stumbled across this initally by accident. I do not think that it has had a a massive amount of publicity, but is rather being picked up on by word of mouth. There is a sort of undiscovered element to it but I think that some newspapers are picking up on it now.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of comedy, I would definitely recommend that you give this a try. It is probably a bit of a love-it of hate-it type thing though, given the sillyish nature of the show.