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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Paul Kaye in

Liar Liar, pants on fire

It pays to tell porky pies in BBC Two's new game show "Liar"

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

Where does this sit in the canon of game shows?

Somewhere in the middle. It doesn't fit in anywhere. It's like What's My Line without the niceness, like the Weakest Link without the pantomime campery. It's like Call My Bluff without the cleverness, but it doesn't actually fit in anywhere.

I was trying to think when I was watching this, what do you need in a really successful game show?

You need a great quiz master, a cracking format, and a wonderful revelation. You have to wait half an hour for that revelation, and it's too late.

Paul Kaye, who played Dennis Pennis, could have been a great quiz master, but it doesn't work here. He feels uncomfortable, he sometimes forgets people's names, and the script for him is just not right.

It would have been right for Dennis Pennis. He was the celebrity showbiz interviewer who once famously said to Demi Moore, "If the circumstances were right and it wasn't gratuitous, would you consider keeping your clothes on in a movie?"

I'm glad to see that he's coming back next year, he's trying to revive that character. This is not the right vehicle for him at all.

Rosie, did you take part at home?

No. I thought it was really very boring as a show. The problem with it is that you need good, interesting liars, and you have six people who get asked very trite questions.

There is a moment when there's somebody who is pretending that he looked after Princess Anne's horses, and a woman in the audience says, "That bit on the back of a horse's leg, is it at the top or the bottom?"

You think, "Sugar, this is not great television."

Alkarim's right, you are waiting too long for the punchlines, and you don't get to like any of them, although I did think that the liar in this one was quite clever.

He was brilliant, and I liked the fact in the end that he goes, "Wahey!", and he's obviously quite a nice guy.

What I really wanted to know was what happens when they share the money with the audience? Do they throw it up, is there a big fight, or do they get it handed neatly out in envelopes? We weren't allowed to see this bit. That bit I am looking forward to seeing.

Do you have any qualms about the morality of rewarding lying?

It's kind of interesting in the context of everything else that's happening, that the BBC should be coming up with, "Let's lie and see how well we can get away with it." Weird.

Could it catch on?

I think it's the greatest piece of TV I have ever seen, but I could be lying.

If the quiz show was an art form, which it may well be, then Who Wants to be a Millionaire is like Andrew Lloyd Webber, and this is like Stephen Sondheim.

It doesn't quite work, because when non-light entertainment people come in to do the quiz show, there are certain things that they miss, the timing, the music, the stings, the power, the dynamism.

But I pulled back from it slightly, and viewed it as a sitcom, a Dennis Pennis sitcom. There was a certain sense that it was kind of slightly meant to go wrong, and there were things happening within it that give it a crunchiness of meaning beyond it being a game show.

I think it's going to be a bit of runner. As was happening with Rosie, you do say, "He is a good liar," and once it's started to be put together well, it will run and run.

The problem is it is a runner. They will clean it up, and it will no longer have those rough edges.

I think Paul will get edgy, once he gets used to his new, fabulous role.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel
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