television the vibe bbc2

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
When Emma Freud vacated her post as lunchtime presenter on Radio 1, they handed her job to MTV DJ Lisa I'Anson. It wouldn't be easy to put a finger precisely on the meaning of this, but when the BBC replace a woman whose surname says "I am brainy" with a woman whose surname says "I can't spell", you've got to ask questions. Like, is the country going to the dogs? Are they pulling our legs? And would the shrink's great-granddaughter have lasted longer if she'd changed her name to Emma Me'Freud?

I'Anson already has two jobs so, in accordance with guidelines laid down in the broadcasting employment handbook, they've given her another one. She's presenting The Vibe, a late-night black-music quiz show. It's a kind of Question of Sport with attitude. I'Anson takes on the David Coleman role, only she shows more chest and a less certain grasp of the language. "From what country does that dish come from?" she asked in the viewers' competition. From what grammar book does that double preposition come from?

It's easy to be stuffy, easier still to warm to a show with its heart in the right place. This is the show in which the vanquished team, when asked by I'Anson if they've enjoyed themselves, say they have with tremendous reluctance. It probably required several takes to extract any kind of acquiescence from them.

You could tell right from the start which team was going to win: it was written in their names. The three members of the Power Moves, from London, were called (in ascending order of brutherliness) Lee, Wayne and Kennedy. Plainly, they didn't stand a chance against the Vinyl Junkies from Manchester, also known as Delroy, Gladstone and Leaky Fresh. It's going to take a hell of a florid team to beat them: unless they're called Curtly, Holderness and MC DC Pee Wee Free Kee Dee Kee, or something, they're not going to have a prayer.

Consistent with the fact that he had the most ridiculous name, Leaky was the know-all. In the final round he strung together a blistering series of correct answers like some cranky, inbred swot from University Challenge. The only discernible difference between that platform for scholarship and this one is that these teammates perform triumphant knuckle-punches each time they get something right. Plus they dance and drum along whenever the question involves a musical excerpt.

Like another highbrow quiz show, each team member has a specialist subject, only here it's not the History of Rotherham's Sewage System, 1830 to 1907, but broader categories: rap, reggae or soul. As yet, no contestant has narrowed down their field of expertise to hardcore techno jungle ragga fusion. But there's still time.

The only false note in the show was I'Anson's Top of the Pops-style introduction from the gantry. A sprinkle of over-ornamented young things mooched behind her shoulder, one of them a dumpy blonde who was quite obviously the only white person in the studio. The Vibe is the last show anyone would accuse of tokenism. Maybe she was just there to make I'Anson look as thin as her vocabulary.