Would I Lie To You? is one of those TV comedy shows that arrives on our screens without fanfare and will as likely leave them without fanfare and which is none the poorer for it.
Would I Lie To You? is another contribution to the vast BBC Comedy Archive having commenced its tell-tale life back in 2007, and has continued its half-truths and spinning sallies to this its fifth 2011 series.
This is made for radio TV for those who don’t know what a radio is.
The original host was Angus Deayton still, 9 years later, in the wilderness from Have I Got News For You – next year he will be a decade away and do you feel it will be his second coming? TV can be sentimental. We will see. Anyhow Deayton was only two years at the helm of Would I Lie To You but did not this time leave for any sexual transgressions – at least I think not. I am assuming he just got bored with it or wanted a new challenge or a better paying gig, and I digress.
Now it is hosted by Rob Brydon – who himself has hosted a panel show before, well a fictional parodic one – remember Reeling in the Years on Annually Retentive? His role is serious, as serious as comedy should be anyway, and he does resist too his other talent that of impressions, forgiving the one time when he lapsed into Terry Wogan when the recently knighted one was sitting aside him as one of the contestants.
I wonder though if comedians are the ideal profession for Would I Lie To You? The show is a comedy so comedians are naturally on show but are they the best dissemblers? Brydon as noted himself is also an Impressionist and perhaps that is a profession with its art of disguise that is better suited to this show – and perhaps the likes of Steve Coogan and Rory Bremner or even those described ambivalently as mentalists such as Derren Brown and David Blaine would rack up the Would I Lie To You points as prime practitioners of deceit.
Trust – or rather mistrust – is perhaps the candidate quality. Alas we live in times when many high-ranking professions such as politics, law and dare I say it journalism are no longer held in the same reverent-esteem though perhaps that is also rose-tinted spectacles and it was ever thus that those who have occupations and positions close to the seats of power achieved such as much for their scheming and flattery as their own particular talents. Each after all are professions where the power of persuasion is paramount.
Unlike Have I Got News For You where politicians are keen to appear as panel contestants as much to show that they have a sense of humour and ‘really are one of us’ – you know of the 99 and not 1% – I cannot see very many of our MP’s queuing up to appear on Would I Lie To You?! Though I guess we could play our own version of ‘Would I Lie To You’ watching Prime Minister’s Questions of a Wednesday afternoon – okay enough easy remarks at the expense of our politicians!
Estate Agents are another profession not known for their veracity and integrity but I am not aware of any famous realtor’s that could be called upon – I don’t think Phil Spencer and Kirsty Allsop quite count?
Yet another profession of liars where false-hood is not merely practised but is praised and is requisite is poker. And one member of its twilight profession, Victoria Coren, appeared on the show. She afterwards tweeted that she was so focused on doing her poker profession proud by calling out all bluffs on the show that she completely forgot about being witty!
The two regular team captains are David Mitchell and Lee Mack …where Mitchell is Rodney Bewes Bob to Mack’s James Bolam Terry. What Ever Happened to the Likely Lad’s? – the show got decommissioned by the BBC in 1974, that is what. And for those of you too young or not British that was my allusive way of saying there is a slight North South comedy divide in the Would I Lie To You? studio.
The format is simple enough – in fact without having seen the show if you were to take a guess I am pretty sure your first guess would be close to correct – that contestants have to lie to each other and those successful in pulling the wool over the others eyes get awarded points and those whose porkie-pies are not swallowed forfeit a point to the other team.
One slight variance and concession to spending up the budget is an invited guest who is related to one of the team members in some way past or present and who is not famous, where again the other team has to establish which of the other team they are related to by distinguishing the facts from the fictions.
…basically then it is just a parlour game in our collective parlours – does anyone call their living rooms parlours anymore?! – in the same way that Whose Line Is It Anyway? was or Argumental and King Of are.
Though the purpose of the game is for one team to out-lie the other team rather like other comedy panel-shows such as QI, 8 out of 10 Cats and Have I Got News For You we the audience do not really care about the score or who the victors are (anymore then the teams do themselves). Rather we are hoping to be entertained and informed and frankly we can be outright misinformed as long as we are made to laugh along the way.
And both team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack manage that – either seems to be able to pontificate on any subject under the sun and ring a few jokes out in the process.
Most of the guests tend to be fellow comedians but not all of them. And it is often the non-comedians that prove to be if not especially more mendacious then the comedians the more entertaining. In the most recent series this year Nick Hewer (one of Alan Sugar’s henchmen on The Apprentice) and actor Nigel Havers turned in memorable performances as well as proving to be able liars – well okay I guess a business-man and an actor are two other professions where a little spin and creative fiction are more of a help than a hindrance in your day-to-day. Hmm – are there any other professions left for me to slander?!
My favourite downright liar in the last series was Irish comedian David O’Doherty – as much for the ineptness of his lying as the creative and rambling nature of his tales.
Would I Lie To You? reminds that a big budget does not a TV success make, that with imaginative ideas and creative guests all the change that can be mustered from the production company’s petty cash box is actually all you need.
- Rob Brydon: ‘I used to be ambitious, but now I’m more like JR Hartley’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Would I Lie to You? – BBC1, 9.30pm, Scotland 10.35pm (mirror.co.uk)