Flight of the Conchords, Mighty Boosh, Mitchell and Webb – the fact that these are all too-cool-for-school double acts isn’t the only thing that links them, they also all had their big break on radio before graduating to TV. It’s how comedy seems to work at the moment, and last night another show which started on the old wireless made its debut on primetime BBC Two – Dave Gorman’s Genius. But did the name turn out to be appropriate – or unfortunate?
The premise of the series is simple – innovators, dreamers, eccentrics and garden shed inventors send in their ideas in the hope that they will be invited onto the show where that eureka moment is assessed by Dave and a celebrity guest and ultimately judged either ‘Genius’ or ‘Not Genius’.
Now eccentricity and left-field thinking come pretty easily to us Brits, so I can’t imagine that the production team had any problems in getting people to submit their ideas – I mean, we’re all secretly budding Dragon’s Den contestants, aren’t we? Not that it’s likely that Duncan, Deborah, James et al would give any of these these particular suggestions their financial backing…
First up there’s Mark, whose apparently gallant idea was soon exposed. His idea, you see, was having hoods stitched into men’s coat sleeves so that when it rains, a kind gent can put his arm around his lady friend, pop the hood up and keep her nice and dry. “And then you’re in”, he said. Special guest Catherine Tate thought she could cope with her date “copping a feel” if it meant her hair didn’t get frizzy, but Dave was rather more sceptical, suggesting that an umbrella might be a “less pervy option.” “I didn’t think about an umbrella…” Mark replied. “But this has the element of surprise.” Making it Genius, obviously.
The other potential geniuses (I looked it up, genii is something different I’m afraid) were Mike whose democra-buses would go in the direction in which the majority of passengers wish to travel (the driver has the casting vote, naturally); Paul, a jolly if ever so slightly creepy cab driver who takes shoes instead of cash as a deposit; and Alex who thinks that unfit people could win 100m sprints by wearing 100m high shoes and just falling. They’d die but dammit they’d have Olympic glory. If it was the 100m sprint in the Olympics, I guess. Otherwise just common or garden glory.
This isn’t groundbreaking TV – if anything it felt slightly ’90s in its Room 101-ness – and the unnecessarily huge studio gave an strange atmosphere to proceedings at times. But it is a big-hearted, fun celebration of oddness which is no bad thing. And I’ve a feeling that the bit where they read ‘rejected’ ideas might become a highlight of each episode. Which reminds me – just what is ‘bicurious potholing’…?