Genius

Genius, with Dave Gorman

So far we’ve had Catherine Tate, Frank Skinner, Jonathan Pryce and most recently the incomparable Johnny Vegas – but is Genius actually any good?

As with all shows with a simplistic, clear format – yes it is. Giving the great British public  (long since a source of eccentricity and insanity) a platform to make whatever declarations and announcements each with the singular aim of improving life was a moment of near genius itself, and throwing a comedy guest along with host Dave Gorman seals the deal.

Discovering the comic ability of guest Jonathan Pryce was a wonderful moment itself, but none so far has come close to the last edition in which Johnny Vegas and Dave Gorman tried out a looped duvet, invented to ensure that when one half of the co-habiting couple pulls the duvet around them, the other remains covered thanks to a loop of duvet hanging below the bed.

Anarchic is probably the best way to describe the ensuing madness which results in Vegas and Gorman becoming trapped under the bed, hanging in a cradle of duvet.

In the end, “the conveyor duvet” was not declared genius; “zip-up animal suits” for deceased pets to be cleverly replaced by in-costume replicas was declared a genius idea, but the overall genius of the edition was “torture box” – a device to torture inanimate objects such as keys and knives that might cause harm or distress to the user.

If that isn’t genius, I don’t know what is. Genius is a superb series that has fulfilled it’s pre-launch promise, transitioning well from the BBC Radio 4 version (of which I’m barely familiar). Given the laughs and potential, a second series must be commissioned.

Any show that gives credence and airtime to wonderful ideas such as:

  • Placing prisoners on exercise bikes attached to the national power grid.
  • The two hooded coat for protecting your date from the rain
  • Appropriate regional accents added to weather forecasts: So viewers know which bit to listen to.

…frankly gets my vote.

So thank goodness that the BBC Radio 4 show Genius has made its transition to television, hosted by Dave Gorman and broadcast 11.35pm Friday nights on BBC Two.

The first edition this week saw a fantastic selection of ideas which were then discussed with guest Catherine Tate. These ideas were:

  • The two hooded coat for protecting your date from the rain
  • The democratic bus – passengers get to say where the bus goes
  • Taxi drivers taking shoes as insurance
  • 100-metre-high running shoes, for easier sprint racing

…each of which generated plenty of opportunity for comedic analysis. The show then proceeds with Gorman guiding his guest (future weeks will see Jonathan Pryce and Frank Skinner following Catherine Tate into the judges chair) into dismissing ideas or putting them through to the final deliberation via a rotating stage with dry ice for added drama.

The two-hooded coat won the very first “Genius Trophy” – and quite an historic moment it was too.

British television is littered with eccentrics, from Magnus Pike and the legendary Bob Symes to The Gadget Show‘s Jason Bradbury and even Fourth Doctor Who Tom Baker.  As such, Genius presents a remarkable opportunity for the garden shed inventors to raise their profiles in a light-hearted Dragon’s Den – and what could be better than that?

If we remember that the Dyson vortex vacuum cleaner was a British invention funded by foreign investors due to the lack of vision and appreciation for British technical achievements at home, then a show like Genius which can promote great ideas is a positive step.

However a couple of things need changing – not least the set, which is perhaps a little too evocative of the series’ close relative Room 101. The opening titles meanwhile follow a stream of consciousness idea surely inspired by those of Have I Got News For You.

Otherwise, a great idea, a great show and a perfect piece of television for after the pub on a Friday night.

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