Oh Dermot what have you done? Saturday night Light Entertainment formats are notoriously difficult to get right. For every Gladiators, House Party or Take Away there are a dozen Hole in the Wall, Families at War or I Love my Country. In recent years the BBC has probably had more hits than misses (not that ITV is completely blameless. Splashanyone?). This latest attempt to hit that early evening/tea time/getting ready to go out slot is The Getaway Car.
The producers have actually drawn on a lot of previous programmes to create a mash up. It uses a physical assault course in a hot country, South Africa (like Total Wipeout did in Argentina); revolves around how well couples get on (like Mr and Mrs); and have thrown in a bit of cross fertilisation from Top Gear with the addition of the Stig (like….well actually I can’t think of any other programme that has done this in quite this manner. It could start a trend though. Perhaps the Chasers from The Chase could appear as a pub quiz team in Midsommer Murders or the Goggleboxers will get their own panel show. I blame 8 out of 10 cats does Countdown for all this).
The game consists of 3 rounds and a final chase. The first round looks like the unholy offspring of the Wipeout course and most of the games from It’s A Knockout. (The Jeux sans Frontiers version where we got play against the Belgians in giant foam costumes. Not the UK heats which appeared to take place on a school playing field between a team of chartered accountants from Tunbridge Wells vs a team of medical secretaries from Littlehampton.) Round 2 consisted of driving off road buggies very quickly around a course and round 3 was a bit like Runaroundwhere you had to choose an answer but carried out in a 90 hp car and without Mike Reid shouting “Runaround…Naaahhhhhhh”. It all culminated the final couple being chased around a course by the Stig picking up money as they went. Oh and I forgot, the Race Off where the co-pilot gets driven around a track by the Stig’s nephews whilst trying to answer questions. Rumour has it that the idea was stolen from interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.
Presiding over all this madness if the ever personable Dermot O’Leary. Dermot appears to be stuck between a rock and hard place at the moment (or BBC and ITV in this case). Some celebs are on what are referred to as “Golden Handcuffs” i.e. they are on big money contracts to stay with a channel. So Graham Norton is handcuffed to the BBC, Ant and Dec to ITV and Jeremy Clarkson was handcuffed to the BBC but found himself handcuffed to a police officer so is now handcuffed to Amazon. Dermot doesn’t appear to be handcuffed to anyone. He left ITV and the X Factor (just in time judging by the ratings for last season) but still pops up on ITV to present the NTA’s (more on which later in the week), but has presented a BBC Radio 2 programme since 2004 and is a regular on Comic and Sports Relief. He really is keeping his options open. I’d love to have heard the phone call from his agent. I imagine it started with the fee and the prospect of filming in the Southern hemisphere in autumn before moving onto the fact that it is a live action version of Wacky Races. Bless him thoug, he really is giving his all on this. He greets the couples in his ever so slightly too tight shirt with the same enthusiasm as he does The X Factor hopefuls even though these contestants are clearly mad as they have voluntarily entered a competition to slide a VW Polo down a waterfall. All said and done I was left a bit bemused by it all. The really worrying thing though is that I have set it on series link.