Monday, August 14, 2006

All the con of the fair

Have you ever been to a fairground as a child and tried one of those games where you pay £3 for three balls or three hoops and you have to throw them over various prizes or knock down cans or whatever. The point of these games is that you can NEVER win. You might if you practiced for like, a year in your own home. But the average punter will never be able to knock down all the cans with the balls in just three goes. They're the sort of games that give fairground people a bad name. Well, the digital equivalent of that has just gone on the air. And now you can get suckered without leaving your home and traipsing round a muddy field.

Suddenly, late night tv has been taken over with these horrible "quizzes". I caught 20 minutes of one on Friday and instantly felt sick. A Tanya Turner clone, with eyes so cold and glazed over that she could have easily stood in as an extra on Zombie Dawn of the Dead, kept up a stream of inane babble only previously seen on QVC and other shopping channels. A kind of simplified cross-word was shown on the screen, and the Tanya Figure needed to know the missing word. You had to phone in with your answers. The winner got some money, the amount of which seemed to get larger every few minutes, yet was also vaguely indeterminate. "Can I have a 5 minute count-down?" shouted the Tanya Figure. Inexplicably, a count-down appeared, accompanied with frantic, tick-tock music that got faster and faster, always accelerating towards a conclusion, an insane monetary orgasm that was never going to come. I started to feel panicky and breathless as the music wound me up "Phone in now!" squawked the Tanya Figure. "This isn't my show! It's yours. We want to give you the money, but you have to phone in!"

Suddenly, the phone started ringing. Some saddo offered an answer. "No babe!" smiled Tanya, looking sad for a milisecond. Another and another phoned. One "lucky" person got through a couple of times. "It's a good time to phone in!" Tanya advised.

Every answer was wrong. Some of them were obviously wrong, as in, they could never be right in a month of Sundays and the cretins who offered them clearly needed to be taken out of society and put in a remedial educational facility. But a lot of the answers were possibly correct. That was the point of the game. There wasn't just one right answer, there were potentially hundreds. And let's just guess here, that the correct answer is basically the last possibility when all of the others have been exhausted and hundreds of pounds worth of phone calls have been made on the equally correct, but "wrong" ones. I didn't stay around to see whether someone won, but I'm guessing that when eventually a person did win, it turned out to be some stooge, standing slightly off-camera in the studio. Possibly the person who supplies Tanya with cocaine - because you can't humanly remain that hyperactive for that length of time without some sort of chemical pick-me-up. And then the whole thing would start again. They might let someone real win, like once in every 20 games, but it all seemed like the most despicable con.

I wish we could return to the innocent days of late night tv, when blonde, over-heated human Barbie dolls would incite drunken, masturbating loser men to phone in so they would flash their tits for half a second. At least that was a fair exchange.


matty said...

I can almost hear The San Antonio Stroll playing somewhere in the background as Chrissy and Jack prat fall over Janet and tacky whicker furnishings!

Deano said...

A sad mate of mine with too much time on his hands had a go at winning one of these phone ins. He's just recieved his reply from Ofcom who re-assaured him they are investigating these shows.

jetpack said...

I quite like those late night shows. They're quite comforting in their banality, and I'm ashamed to say I did phone a few times (but I wouldn't now, honest). I do wonder about the people that send in emails and photos saying how much they love the programme and that they watch it every night till 4am.

Tom SF said...

I have phoned in before - as far as I can tell, thereare two random selection procedures before getting on air and so your chances of speaking to the studio are something like 100 to 1.