I Love My Country: Is the BBC's 'patriotic' celebrity quiz show television's most inane achievement yet?


When ITV1 launched its celebrity diving show Splash!, the critical derision it prompted only succeeded in driving masochistic viewers to the belly-flopping entertainment on offer.

So let’s help the BBC1 publicity machine out – I Love My Country, its new “patriotic” celebrity quiz show, is so thoroughly, idiotically inane, it could well be the worst entertainment offering that the corporation has yet dredged up for the edification of Saturday night viewers.

Presented by Splash! host Gabby Logan (can she repeat the magic?), after David Walliams fled the scene of the pilot episode, the entire venture appears to be a parody of some long-forgotten 1970s Seaside Special-style knees-up.

I Love My Country was imported from the Netherlands under a “first-look” deal with Talpa, the company which sold the BBC the middling talent show, The Voice.

It’s a “first look” in the sense that a bereaved family is asked to confirm the identity of a corpse.

The proceedings open with Mrs Logan dancing awkwardly to the strains of Queen’s totalitarian anthem "One Vision", played by a house band led by noughties pop singer Jamelia.

The camera swoops over the audience, hyped into a flag-waving frenzy, who are required to wear coloured comedy wigs. They are split into two teams, behind their captains, Frank Skinner and comic Micky Flanagan.

Skinner explores the comic potential of his teammate, Casualty actress Charlotte Salt, until every possible mirth-inducing permutation of her surname is ground to er, salt.

The teams compete for tonight’s star prize, a commemorative I Love My Country plate, displayed by two female “hostesses”.

A geographical test requires the teams to identify the village of Lickey End, to predictable hilarity. The captains must mark locations of interest on an oversized map of the UK, using a Yorkshire pudding to win points.

History next – who are the two figures of national importance whose faces have been digitally merged? Of course, it’s Winston Churchill and Ann Widdecombe.

The highlight of the episode is a sit-down game of Pass The Parcel. But someone in BBC Entertainment lacked the confidence that this party-stopper alone would give Saturday nights enough zing. The parcel will “explode” after three minutes of quick-fire questions. The bar is set by the conundrum, “What is the capital of Wales?”

Miranda actor Tom Ellis is asked how many letters make up the English alphabet. Under intense pressure, “28” is his best reckon. The parcel eventually emits a shower of paper and smoke with a health & safety-approved phut.

Jamelia leads the audience through a singalong of "All You Need Is Love", to lift spirits. Then out of nowhere, a question about sculptor Henry Moore is slipped into the increasingly odd cocktail.

Skinner and Flanagan are whisked off Generation Game-style to learn a “traditional British past-time”. They return, in feathered costume, to perform a spot of ye olde englishe samba dancing.

Behind Mrs Logan, a distracting Big Ben clock whirrs at ten times normal speed, giving the programme a deranged, almost psychedelic, Alice In Wonderland air.

After 45 baffling minutes, Mrs Logan signs off the show, thanking the audience and guests, with the words: “They all love their country and so do I.”

Has Mrs Logan been seized by the spirit of Hughie Green who notoriously hijacked a 1976 Opportunity Knocks to rant against bolshy unions and urge Britons to “stand up and be counted”?

Speaking at the series launch, Skinner declined to make any intellectual claims for the show, which has been adapted for national audiences across Europe and has even hit Chinese screens. “My British history is about the level of the programme. They’re not going to ask us anything about who killed the Princes in the Tower,” the comic predicted.

The Tower could be where everyone involved in I Love My Country’s garish parade of stupidity, deserves to end up. There – now watch the ratings soar.

I Love My Country, BBC1, Saturday, 7.30pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions