Some months ago I was privileged to witness the future of British game shows.
The scenario: punter wants to get home. Punter hails black taxi. Enters taxi. Lights flash, punter looks shocked. Lovable grey haired bespectacled professional cockney (the man Moody – a bona fide cabbie) says, ” ‘allo guv’nor. you ‘ave entered Cash Cab.” (like the fonetix?) then witters on about taking said individual to their destination but there will be no fare. Instead he offers lots of money for answering questions. “But, if you get three questions wrong I’ll stop the cab and ask you to get out and walk the rest of the way home. And you lose all the money.”
It is simple. The cab Y974 CGP is followed by another vehicle V 262 KGT and punters have to answer questions. Every one correct gives them cash. The first 5 worth £10 each, the next 5 £50 each, the remainder £100 each. The contestants can phone anyone, stop anyone, seek any assistance they like in answering the questions. But when they get three questions wrong they’re out.
The shows were based in various cities (my most bizarre experience was watching someone travelling to Victoria Quay, home of the Scottish Executive, via a circuitous route of the type I experienced once with a taxi driver in Edinburgh who taking advantage of the fact that I fell asleep in the cab decided that the route from the new Edinburgh Royal to Parkgrove – following the birth of our first child after a prolonged labour and surgical intervention – warranted his running up £30 on the clock).
My favourite was in Liverpool. The people of Liverpool lived up to their reputations as regular wits and entertainers (ah, the home of Stan Boardman and the Tarbuck – who was never the same after Geoffrey Wheeler replaced him on Winner Takes All). Sadly, aside from two Everton fans, they weren’t that bright.
“Spell vacuum” one couple of middle-aged Liver Birds were asked (Carla Lane obviously produced a fly on the wall documentary – these two were as unfunny as anything she’s ever written). They leaned out of the window and asked a young man with girlfried.
“Oi”, they cried in their best scouse.”‘ow do ya spell vacuum?”
“Vee. Ay. See. Double ewe. Em.”
“That’s wrong” said blond Liver Bird. “There’s no “W” in vacuum.”
Helpful cabby tries to persuade her to repeat what the passer-by had said.
“Vee. Ay. See. Ewe. Em.” she says.
Helpful cabby asks her again to repeat what was said by the passer-by.
She protests that there is no “W” in vacuum.
Long argument ensues.
Brilliant television. Cheap, too. Ideal for the daytime schedules. Two cars, two or three cameras, a presenter that’s quite personable, and a format to die for. This is the future of game shows. Expect Celebrity Cash Cab (“your cab driven by Richard Stilgoe with Carol Vorderman in the boot”) any day now.