TV Quickfire: We need to get over the P – Dara O Briain on his Blockbusters reboot
Dara O Brian (47) has helmed various panel programmes but now the Co Wicklow-born comedian is taking on the younger generation as the host of Comedy Central UK's Blockbusters reboot. We quizzed him about the show
MOCK The Week star Dara O Briain follows in the footsteps of presenters from original host Bob Holness to, most recently, Simon Mayo when he takes the helm on nostalgic family hit quiz Blockbusters.
The new Comedy Central UK series will once again see contestants answering trivia questions to light up hexagonal segments across a playing board. The winner then has the chance to take on the Gold Run to bag themselves a prize.
WHAT'S THE SECRET OF THE SHOW'S SUCCESS?
"[It's] the simplicity of it. Now quizzes have to have a mechanic to work – we can't just ask what the capital of Sweden is any more, we have to have something involving answers in a series of envelopes or whatever. Blockbusters is straightforward general knowledge, but the board is an easy thing to get. Obviously now we have a shinier computer version of it [but] there's something about the sheer play-along-ability."
HAS THE FORMAT CHANGED?
"So it's slightly different because we're not doing it five days a week at teatime [20 weekly episodes will be broadcast over two series] and so the narrative can't be people coming back for five gold runs. Each show has to be more of a standalone event, so there's more messing around at the start and more chat with the contestants. It should be more gag heavy."
WHAT ABOUT THE INEVITABLE COMPARISONS?
"Since Bob, there has been four attempts to bring it back, each of which has lasted for one series. So there's a distance and this feels like we've shifted the emphasis – we've made it more about the jokes than the quiz, and we're coasting on the goodwill of the memory of it and the simplicity of the format. But as a comic when you get asked to do a quiz show you think, 'Oh am I there now?' When are the cruise ships and panto coming?'"
AND THE TONE?
"Possibly my only concern was because contestants would uniformly be 16 to 19, keeping it as a young person's quiz, you've got to make sure that the tone is OK so it doesn't turn into roasting some kids and you, as a 47-year-old man, are bullying people from across the room. So I was slightly worried I wouldn't find some sort of comedy ground with them but they were lovely. They just took it really well, messed around, and offered things back."
HOW DID YOU FIND WORKING WITH TEENS?
"It was great because we tend to think of this generation in a relatively negative way. We stick them on a beach and tell them to fall in love with each other in a reality show or it's avocado and toast and complaining about them... But they're bright and do tonnes of things, and their confidence was lovely to watch. Somebody at one stage did a Rubik's Cube while telling a joke and you're going, 'Bravo.' It was grand."
HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE 'CAN I HAVE A P PLEASE, BOB?' PUN
"It was as disappointing as I thought it would be [when I first heard it] because I would like to think that we've evolved as a humanity. That we're able to get over a P. As a general rule in comedy you don't do jokes about pee and poo because they're not a thing. And so I would have expected a greater level of sophistication than for every single time somebody said, 'Can I have a P please, Dara?' the audience laughed and applauded. Forty times!"
:: Blockbusters launches on Comedy Central UK on Thursday March 21.