How long does it take to get an answer round here?

You’re a very busy person. I know that. You’re either weighed down each week with a scholastic timetable of contact hours, or else expected to read half the books on the fifth floor as background to your compulsory course texts. Biochemistry students won’t be reading this; there simply aren’t the hours in the day.

For the rest it may be a question of perusing this paper whilst on the bus. Others, a certain type of man, will roll it up, tuck beneath the arm and proceed to the nearest lavatory, complete with a steely glint in his eye. Nothing is as enjoyable as those solitary hours spent on the toilet.

This leaves TV in a somewhat sticky situation. Though the far easier medium to take in, it also tends to be more time consuming. I have one friend who now only watches television during meal times; oddly enough we don’t speak much anymore.

For those of you who want to feel your life hasn’t been entirely compartmentalised then the only alternative is to focus upon shows you actually enjoy. Separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were. Like most this won’t follow a specific line of reasoning: one week rom-com, the next reality TV, maybe a bit of ITV drama at weekends.

Personally? I go for quiz shows. Just quiz shows. Such a pronouncement is certain to have you glazing over and reaching for the corner of the page, thoughts wandering towards some other topic entirely, like the fifth floor of the library. Allow me a mere 295 words more to explain, though. Please.

Quiz shows have exploded in recent years. Much like “reality” entertainment and comedian driven programming they appeal to production companies and broadcasters in being cheap to develop.

Only this has led to a catastrophic, apocalyptic and arguably terminal weakening of the brand. The basic premise of question, answer, tallied score and conclusion has swelled to incorporate things like human interest and monetary tension. Said shift means the straight quiz show is a dying breed, set to be entirely replaced by its bastardised cousin the game show.

Game shows are fine, one would imagine, if you have time to kill or a particularly empathetic disposition. But a busy person doesn’t care what today’s contestant is going to spend the money on if they win. Likewise, adding money to the equation skews the purpose, it gives each question an artificial life force which is totally unnecessary. From this the host – normally chippy and interfering – can string things out, well beyond the stretches of human concentration, before finally revealing the answer.

In an ideal world all quiz shows would return to the fundamental guiding principles listed above. It should be about speed, beating the clock or the opponent, and about facts, knowledge and a pure unmotivated desire to win.

Is it wrong of me to want all presenters to be crusty and intellectual, whose accoutrements include tweed and a tendency to let the questions do the talking? Is it wrong of me to desire robotic responses rather than hysterical emotion-driven tangents? Is it wrong that I even find the brief preamble between rounds of Mastermind (BBC2) to be an affront to my enjoyment?

Supposing these beliefs are wrong then this is one quiz where I most emphatically do not want to be right.

Thank goodness for University Challenge (BBC2).

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