Preview: The Guess List, BBC1

The Guess List

On Fridays Rob Brydon is currently quoting Shelley and Byron, on Saturdays he is indulging in the poetry of the shiny-floored game show. The Guess List, which is a pleasure to review, is the kind of show where the rules don’t need explaining because most of us will be watching it simply to enjoy Brydon's brilliant banter and people skills. Not so much The Trip To Italy as The Trip Into Light Entertainment. 

If you do want the rules, however, they are pretty basic. Or at least I thought they were until the winner of the first episode seemed completely baffled by them during a frankly hilarious finale. As far as I can tell, Brydon asks questions based on audience surveys ("what should old people do three times a week to help them look younger?"), the celebrity panel has to suggest the answers and then the contestants have to guess the right answer from the options offered or from their own ideas. In other words think Family Fortunes by way of Celebrity Squares.

The fun is in the sparky, spikey script and the chemistry between Brydon and the celebs – Olympian Louis Smith, foxy Emilia Fox, James Corden (who has a bit of a bromance thing with RB), the wonderfully ubiquitous Jennifer Saunders and curveball of the week, Simon Callow. Brydon is the perfect mix of flirting, mockery and comedy indignation as he invites Fox to carry out his autopsy when he is dead, asks Jennifer Saunders if she is doing more Vicar of Dibley and generally treats Callow as a dotty old git. Maybe they wanted Simon Cowell and the office intern sent the email to the wrong Simon.

There are only a few of Brydon's trademark impressions, but they are good ones and include Bruce Forsyth, which is pretty appropriate, because with the old Strictly Come Dancing hoofer hanging up his clogs if this show works out the Welsh wag could be the new face of Saturday night telly. Personally I could watch Brydon in anything from The Trip To Italy to this. As he says straight after the cheesy opening credits have finished, "if you like game shows with celebrities and exciting prizes you are in luck, this is just the programme for you." Though he does add a cautionary note: “If you like ballroom dancing, I’m sorry, come back in the autumn.” 

The Guess List, Saturdays, BBC1, 9.30pm.

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