TV review: I Love My Country - Be patriotic and turn off your set right now
With a set like an explosion in a Cath Kidston shop, a quiz on Britain is little short of treason
We're obviously living through a Golden Age of patriotism in the UK, but unfortunately the trickledown wealth from royal weddings/jubilees/babies and Olympic/Wimbledon wins only really amounts to the following: bunting; Union Jack cupcakes; Nigel Farage positioning himself as normal pint-loving bloke; Pippa Middleton's party-planning book; the inability to tell if someone with a flag in their window is a racist or not, and now I Love My Country.
This comedy quiz show pitches itself as good old-fashioned light entertainment – nudge-nudge naughtiness, a live band, "lovely girlies" in patriotically hued skimpy outfits. Gabby Logan beams in a set stuffed with sheep and corgis, white picket fences and red phone boxes and flags, as if a Cath Kidston shop had exploded over an episode of Last of the Summer Wine. Comedians Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan lead teams of smiles-on-legs "stars" off EastEnders, Casualty, Saturday Kitchen. Sample comedy gem from Micky: "Gordon Ramsay on the telly. Why is he so angry? Is it because he's ended up doing a woman's job?" This man had the best-selling stand-up DVD of 2012, ladies and gentlemen.
Guests answer (incorrectly) questions such as "How many letters are there in the alphabet?", and try to place a Yorkshire pudding on a giant map to show where they think Peterborough is. Apt, given the whole thing is as stiffly formatted but soggy-bottomed and unappealing as an Iceland ready-made that's been left out of the freezer.
Another round involves guessing the song from the live band's rendition, and features wilfully obscure numbers such as the Beatles' "All You Need is Love", which turns into a singalong with words running along the screen, karaoke-style. The studio audience wear giant red or blue Afro wigs, and I Love My Country's most cringe-worthy moment comes when it attempts to celebrate diversity: about 22 seconds of London School of Samba, for a cynical splash of multiculturalism, followed by Frank and Micky attempting to samba too, in sequined bras and headdresses. Cross-dressing is another great British tradition, of course, but still ….
I Love My Country aims at the spirit of the Olympic opening ceremony only with the budget of your local pub quiz and the ambition of a primary school assembly. Don't get out your bunting; it only encourages them.
Channel 4 also brought out its own new quiz last week. That Music Show (Friday **) smacks of development desperation: part Top of the Pops-style live music show, and part Never Mind The Buzzcocks-style panel show, with an attempt at anarchic edginess à la The Word. Filmed in a Brixton gig venue, for "authenticity", presumably, the sound quality isn't great, and songs by electro-pop duo AlunaGeorge seem oddly truncated.
You would think a Nick Grimshaw-fronted music show would be after the yoof vote, but it's more likely to appeal to older viewers too knackered to do anything but collapse on the sofa after the working week. And That Music Show is nostalgia heavy: each team is allocated a year – 1995 and 2005 – to be quizzed on.
Alongside team captains Shaun Keaveny (of 6 Music) and stand-up Seann Walsh, guests are mostly from the archives, including Heather Small of M People, Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, Maggot of Goldie Lookin Chain, and – with a sigh of inevitability – Alex James of Blur.
Shaun and Alex go on about how wasted they were back in 1995 while ruefully drinking pints, but the show does hit certain "oh-my-God-I'd-forgotten-that-song" sweet spots. And if you'd had as many pints as the contestants – not implausible by 10pm on a Friday – the show's charms would likely be greater.
Grimmers does a lot of ironic grinning or grimacing at clips of embarrassing old pop antics, and although he lacks the satirical bite of, say, Simon Amstell on Buzzcocks, the more wilfully eccentric elements aren't as annoying as they could be. Scores are kept with the quirkiness of Shooting Stars – by an actual ferret.
But best is Hammered Time, where well-known recording artists are described by very sloshed members of the Great British public for the teams to guess. Honestly, it's funnier than it sounds. Turns out drunkenly blathering rude things about pop stars is more of a national skill than mastering British geography. Who'd have thought it?
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'We're not heroes, just tourists': Swedish police officers on holiday stop vicious assault on New York subway
- 2 Black Mass trailer: Johnny Depp might have started making good films again
- 3 Head transplant: man will be attached to new body in under an hour and aim is immortality, doctor says
- 4 Jacob Lescenski and Anthony Martinez: Straight student asks gay friend to High School prom and makes a million Twitter friends
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
MasterChef, TV review: The final climaxed in a frenzy of herbs and hyperbole
Male student sues Columbia University for 'gender-based harassment' after alleged 'Mattress Performance' rape victim Emma Sulkowicz went public with claims
MasterChef 2015: Simon Wood named winner
Black Mass trailer: Johnny Depp might have started making good films again
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election