My Pointless Friend

“It’s like Family Fortunes. In reverse” – not the most promising tagline for a quiz show, and I do admit I have some difficulty explaining the peculiar magic of my current, indeed probably all-time, favourite quiz show, ‘Pointless’, to people. But it is clearly a show with a burgeoning fanbase, after its switch from BBC2 to a later slot on BBC1.

It’s not my intention to compare other shows unfavourably to ‘Pointless’ – different people want different things from quizzes. I know my colleague is a big fan of its ITV rival ‘The Chase’, a show on which you get plenty of questions for your money, and having watched it in full for the first time recently, I agree it’s a pretty good format. Since the end of ’15 to 1′ I’ve shared the feeling that a lot of the big shows don’t give a real quiz fan enough questions to get their teeth into, so why then am I so enamoured of ‘Pointless’, which really only has four questions all show?

Well, for starters, I think it’s a very nice premise and a very nice format. Obscure knowledge is rewarded, which appeals to the quizzy quizzer, but there is a sliding scale of reward, so just knowing something about the given category can be good enough. There is right and wrong, but not just one right answer (or one wrong answer). The knowledge starts off very general, but becomes more and more specific as it moves on, so that you tend to actually have to be pretty smart AND lucky to win the jackpot, which is just what you want.

But who am I kidding? Why is ‘Pointless’ great? Because of the banter. I may be wrong, but Alexander Armstrong is one of those genially funny men who is thoroughly undivisive. Who could hold it in their heart to loathe him? He’s funny, of course, and very charming to the contestants, albeit sometimes in an ever so slightly bemused, superior way.

But he’s not even the star of the show. In the standard role of quiz sidekick, we have “my pointless friend” Richard Osman (brother of Mat Osman from Suede, fact fans) who, unless i’m very much mistaken, is a genuinely hilarious man. Ben Miller needs to watch out, as this is a great double act – both are clever and prepared to mock the contestants, but always in a gentle, good-natured way.

Add to that the fact that the show provides great opportunities for viewer participation, as you’re not in a race against the contestants – there’s plenty of time to think about your answers, and to feel pleased and smug if you better them.

I haven’t been this excited about a teatime TV show since ‘Home and Away’ returned to our screens on Channel 5!!!

Have you seen ‘Pointless’? Any flaws? Not a fan of Armstrong? Or Osman? And are there any other quiz show gems out there I’m missing?


2 replies
  1. Dave Bill
    Dave Bill says:

    As a former contestant (series 1), I’ve got a few opinions i’d like to share about ‘Pointless’.
    Firstly, the show you see today is nothing like the series 1 show, less contestants (10 down to 8).. Not really a major change, just thought i’d mention it.
    Secondly, VERY few of the questions asked are of the ‘carte-blanche’, answer what you like variety. Pick one of these 7 options is the new way forward.
    My partner Jamie and I worked REALLY hard to ensure we had a workable revision list for the game. We went through and chose about 300 topics and found our required answers for those. It served us well, we won £3000 (People with access to our list have won over £15000 at the last count) – on the flip side, I reckon we rang some alarm bells when we got 4 pointless answers and 4 single digit answers in the same show. Thus i’m taking some credit for bringing about the changes that i’ve mentioned above!!
    I enjoy the show, it’s a good format and as you say, Osman is a legend. However it’s not as watchable for the serious quizzer as it used to be, for that reason, I know record this and watch ‘The Chase’..

  2. David McGaughey
    David McGaughey says:

    Thanks Dave, I actually missed the first series so interesting to find out about how it’s developed.
    Having enjoyed The Chase enormously on my first viewing, I may end up following suit, though it rather depends whether I’m in the mood for a serious quiz or a bit of banter.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *