A shamelessly patriotic new BBC1 Saturday night quiz show called I Love My Country is not a prime-time advertisement for Ukip, its star contestants have insisted.
Celebrity guests answer questions about the UK’s history, geography and popular culture in the series, presented by Gabby Logan, which is designed to celebrate national characteristics.
Frank Skinner and comic Micky Flanagan are team captains on the show, which was created by John de Mol, the Dutch television entrepreneur behind Big Brother, and has already been a hit in various national versions across Europe.
During the opening episode, the teams have to identify Peterborough on a map of the UK using a Yorkshire pudding.
Another round “celebrates the British traditions and past-times that make us what we are” – although in this case the activity is Brazilian samba dancing.
The audience is whipped up into a patriotic fervor and Mrs Logan signs off the show saying “They all love their country and so do I.”
Skinner said the show was not a response to the rise of Ukip. “It was after we recorded it that Ukip began to soar,” he said. “That was unplanned.”
Although the series was patriotic, Skinner said: “It’s like those Japanese fish. You take all the nasty bits out and it’s not poisonous. It’s that kind of patriotism."
Mrs Logan, who replaced David Walliams as quizmaster following the comic actor’s late withdrawal after recording a pilot episode, said the aspects of Britain she most loved are “our healthy cynicism and our ability to look sideways at everything and question things.”
Asked how he would encapsulate the British experience for someone who had never visited before, Flanagan said: “I would wait until the riots kicked off again and take them to Croydon.”
The BBC picked up I Love My Country, which will run for eight weeks from August 3, under a “first look” development deal with Talpa, de Mol’s company, which is also responsible for the BBC1 talent show, The Voice UK.
The series has been exported from the Netherlands, where it launched in 2008, to 25 countries. The French version was given the more imperial title, Tout le monde aime la France!
In the BBC version, a house band led by the pop star Jamelia plays excerpts of songs, ranging from The Beatles to Motorhead, which the contestants have to identify. In one round the teams have to guess the weight of the Mayor of High Wycombe.
Guests on the series include Dame Kelly Holmes, Christine Bleakley, Laurence Llewellyn Bowen and Paul Hollywood.