Game show to replace Referendum Special?

Posted on 01/04/2014 by

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 ‘Referendum makes for tedious television’

bbc scotland

 There has been a furious reaction to the BBC’s decision to replace ‘serious’ coverage of the Scottish referendum debate with a referendum game show. First Minister Alex Salmond says it is a slap in the face for democracy but BBC chiefs claim they are simply giving viewers what they want.

BBC chiefs had originally planned a series of factual programmes and documentaries in the run-up to the September referendum, supplemented by three set piece debates on the week of the big vote itself. A through the night Referendum Special, jointly hosted by ‘dream team’ David Dimbleby and Jackie Bird, was also scheduled.

However BBC bosses have decided instead to scrap the lot and will now air ‘The Yes No Show’, a light-hearted game show in which will give viewers an ‘alternative opportunity’ to cast their vote on Scotland’s future.

A BBC spokesman said: “I’ve only ever been to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival but chums tell me the natives up there are getting decidedly restless – lots of anger, claim and counter-claim and the level of debate has been decidedly dire. Wasn’t it P.G.Wodehouse who said: ‘’It has never been hard to tell the difference between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine’?

“Well, after careful consideration we thought it might be helpful to diffuse some of the heat by screening a game show that the whole family can enjoy – and not only the Jocks, either! Plans are at an advanced stage and we are really excited about the new show – we reckon it’s a real winner and we believe the public will really take to the format of the show”.

winton

All-round entertainer Dale Winton (pictured above) has been approached to front the referendum show. “I feel sorry for the Scotch, I really do – I mean, really – ‘yes’, ‘no’, sometimes there’s just too much choice! Their heads must be buzzing, it’s no wonder they get so angry and aggressive! I’m sworn to secrecy about the details of The Yes No Show, it’s all very cloak and dagger but very exciting. I’d really love to spill the beans but I’ve been warned that if I say anything at all I’ll be trussed up by the Trossachs, so for the moment at least I’m keeping mum!”

It’s understood that famous Scots entertainers like The Krankies, John Barrrowman, Susan Boyle and Sir Sean Connery were ruled out at an early stage as they are seen as ‘too Scotch’, but as a sop to nationalists ‘Go Compare’ tenor Wynne Evans, who was born in Carmarthen near Glasgow, has been pencilled in for a guest slot.

sir bruce

Another big name to miss out is showbiz legend Sir Bruce Forsyth (pictured above). The self-styled superstar of light entertainment was said to be devastated at missing out on the referendum special. “Bitter? Me? Never. It’s their loss – I’m probably the only all-round entertainer and variety superstar who was alive at the Treaty of the Union. I remember the Glasgow Empire – if they like you they let you live! – and the Jocks loved me, they just couldn’t get enough. Up there, they show their appreciation by throwing missiles onto the stage and goodness, was I bombarded that night? The more gags I cracked, the more the bottles rained down. Wonderful, wonderful memories as I remember saying to the ambulance driver”.

Forsyth went on (and on): “They had a few good comics of their own, like Harry Lauder, Will Fyfe and Little David Steel, but none in my league and I ask you – where are they now? And did any of them come up with a memorable catchphrase like ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice’? I don’t think so. Bitter? Keep dancing, that’s what I say”.

blair laughing

The highlight of the show is expected to be a surprise guest appearance by two former Prime Ministers. An entertainment insider said: “Double acts have always been very popular – Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello and Cannon and Ball, for example – and we think we’ve unearthed two more comedy greats in Tony and Gordon. We’ve dubbed them the Prime Ministers of Mirth and we think viewers will be blown away. Tony is a natural who can turn his hand to anything, but it’s Gordon who really steals the show. In one sketch Gordon has to hit Tony over the head with a large plank of wood – and we had to redo this take twelve times because everyone was laughing so much, particularly Gordon! Well, maybe not everyone – Tony was a bit miffed but he soon cheered up when we confirmed the details of his fee! He told us he’s going to speak to Ken Dodd for some tax advice and asked to be paid in used notes – what a guy!”

gordie

The sketch – ‘Mr Brown’s Boys’ – is also expected to feature Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Lord Foulkes as Granddad, and the ladies aren’t forgotten – Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont have confirmed that they will be taking part.

However while some politicians see the show as just a bit of fun some Holyrood politicians are furious that referendum coverage is to be scaled back and are particularly scathing about the game show phone vote plans.

Salmond Scotlands Future

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This decision is almost beyond belief and it shows the depths to which the Londoncentric BBC has plummeted – it takes ‘dumbing down’ to a whole new level. Perhaps the BBC is punishing Scotland for River City and our Hogmanay Specials, but this is a step too far. I have nothing against Dale Winton, or any other orange people – indeed I remain a huge fan of Supermarket Sweep – but the future of our nation cannot be decided by a phone-in during a game show, no matter how entertaining that game show may be. Scotland deserves better”.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Reform Society was less dismissive, however. “Lots of people just can’t be bothered voting, and as we believe that as many people as possible should take part in the democratic process we welcome this bold initiative. Eyebrows have been raised about the cost of phoning in to register your vote, but everything costs money these days and let’s be blunt: poor people don’t normally vote anyway, and if they can’t afford to phone in but still want to vote they can troop down to their local polling station if they want to. More affluent viewers will have the opportunity of voting as often as they can afford without having to leave the comfort of their own armchair.

ballot box

“As we see it, you’ll get more people voting, which is great for democracy, and the premium rate phone numbers will boost the much-loved BBC’s income. It’s a win, win situation but we would remind voters – particularly younger callers – to get the bill payer’s permission before phoning in”.

He went on: “The BBC is clearly thinking outside the box – the box, geddit? – and we hope that this new form of engagement will encourage more people to participate. We think it deserves to be a success, and if it works in Scotland in September I’m sure it will be rolled out across the rest of the UK – I believe that’s happened before. This could be a bold new dawn, both for democracy and for public service broadcasting.”

It’s understood that STV are now also rethinking their referendum coverage. While refusing to comment on programme plan details, a senior executive confirmed: “What the BBC broadcasts is up to them. Our own plans are a closely-guarded secret and will remain so until nearer the time – October or November perhaps. Yes, we have been speaking to both Johnny Beattie and Ronnie Corbett but we talk to top showbiz celebrities all the time – some mischievous media people are clearly speculating, putting two and two together and coming up with four.”

stv

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