Good television is hard to find at the moment because of Euro 2012. However, there are some parts of the schedule that can still be enjoyed that are not football. I thought Channel 4′s new comedy panel show A Short History of Everything Else would be one of those shows. I think I may have been wrong.
The show sees host, Griff Rhys Jones, ask his panelists, Marcus Brigstocke and Charlie Baker, a variety of questions about the past which they answer with jokes. The premise seems simple enough, and the people involved are funny and enjoyable to watch so surely not much can go wrong. But somehow the show just doesn’t seem to go anywhere and ended up being just something to have on in the background.
The questions about the country’s recent social history didn’t really delve back further than the 1980s, which made it feel like you were watching snippets of old episodes of Have I Got News For You. On top of that just as the contestants were getting to a funny bit they would be cut off by another question. As a result no one on the show came across as funny as they actually could be.
Now having seen what the show is like, it reminds me of another short-lived Channel 4 panel show called Back in the Day, which was on air back in 2005. It was presented by Clive Anderson who asked the show’s contestants a variety of questions about the last five decades. The nostalgia packed show had clips of news events ranging from 1950-1999, as well as panelists whose answers and memories were supposed to bring some humour into the mix. As Back in the Day only lasted one series, it clearly didn’t work. But seeing as it was a long time ago, and was hidden away in the schedule, Channel 4 seem to think they could get away with trying the format out again.
It is a shame that A Short History of Everything Else doesn’t work because everyone involved is good, I am really glad that Marcus Brigstocke is back on-screen. However, the current version of the show is too fixated on working properly as a quiz and educating people about our social history, rather than concentrating on being funny. It’s not bad, just forgettable.
If you want to see what a Short History of Everything Else is like for yourself then head over to 4OD .