Dear Noel Edmonds: You may be the host with the most at a house party, but do you really think you can draw viewers aswell as numbers when you present the National Lottery programme?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I advise you to win the National Lottery. That is about the only way you are going to make the first Saturday night televised draw exciting.

Did you ever see that Michael Bentine sketch when he played the man who read out the football results and his voice changed from calm BBC correctness to a scream of orgasmic frenzy as he realised he had got eight draws on the pools? It was a fine example of how to turn numbers into tense, taut and thrilling television.

Because, Noel, that's what you will have to do when you host the lottery programme on 19 November (start practising: shout '19', shake your body, make it physical).

Without some smart lateral thinking, there's not a lot you can do with a list of numbers in prime-time viewing. The odd inflection here, a rub of the hands there, perhaps a guest appearance by Mr Blobby, who can drop one of the numbered balls and wobble madly round the floor hunting for it to inject a touch of suspense.

But even that will pale after a while. Viewers like something corporeal, even if it's just a hint of a recognisable animal, vegetable or mineral. In the FA Cup draw, for example, the numbers themselves arouse few passions, but when an off-camera voice whispers quizzically, but conspiratorially, to the viewer, 'well, well, well Chipping Sodbury' after number 145 and then, manically sotto voce, after No 4, 'You won't believe it - Manchester United,' the tension palpably mounts.

His whisper is the star of the show. The chaps from the FA who draw those numbered balls out of the cylinder, well, can you remember any of their names?

Let's be honest. The BBC has sold you a dud here. You and Mr Blobby prefer people to numbers. You can play off them, joke with them, even humiliate them. But a live draw means there is no winner to hug, send off on a holiday of a lifetime, shame into giving it all away to charity. No wonder the likes of Terry Wogan and Bruce Forsyth are reported not to want anything to do with it.

No wonder, too, that many of the lottery shows abroad are only a few minutes long. Tricky one, this, for the Beeb. If a show is less than a quarter of an hour long, it doesn't get official ratings figures. So somehow you've got to make it work for at least 16 minutes.

I suggest the sensuous approach. Like an enthusiastic aerobics coach, you could urge the viewers to 'feel those numbers, caress the digits' - 16, 41, 38, 11, 2, 95, 6 isn't just a list of figures, it's an out-of-body experience, a cosmic trip, an orgy of permutation.

But I guess you know this isn't going to be easy. And I suppose that's why you've agreed to host only the inaugural draw and then hand over the weekly show to two lesser-known celebrities who happen to be in the Television Centre corridor at the time.

And that's why, unlike most of us who will play the lottery, you're already a millionaire. You've got business sense.

(Photograph omitted)

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