When Bill Turnbull revealed he was leaving BBC Breakfast, we were worried the personable newsreader might be off our screens for a good long while – tending to his bees and revelling in a bit of rest and relaxation.
But no sooner had Bill turned off his early morning alarm that he’s returned to BBC daytime – albeit in the afternoon.
In an interesting move, Bill has turned quiz host for Think Tank – a new game show that sees three contestants having to answer general knowledge questions with the help of a regular bunch of brains.
The regular quizzers – who have been chosen for their varying areas of knowledge – are there to assist the players and make up the ‘Think Tank’. From an English graduate to an ice hockey player; a dance teacher to a doctor, they have a large and varied range of knowledge to draw on.
After answering hundreds of general knowledge questions, their answers form the basis of the quiz which is then posed to the contestants. In today’s first episode, they were Lucinda, Rachel and Chris.
Suffice to say, Think Tank got off to a slow start. And a slower middle. But had a relatively interesting end.
Firstly, it’s important to point out what was immediately noticeable on Think Tank was how comfortable Bill Turnbull was in this arena. Chatting with the contestants and giving his unique spin on proceedings ensured Bill has effortlessly made the leap from presenter to quiz host. Quietly understated, he’s the perfect presenter for this gentle BBC One daytime slot.
What, sadly, wasn’t so enjoyable was the show itself. The first round saw the contestants asked questions like ‘What breed was the cartoon dog Snoopy?’. The Think Tank answered with dogs including a Spaniel, a Great Dane and a Dalmatian before the contestant had to then pick which of the answers they thought was correct.
However, the flaw here is that if you knew the answer anyway, the use of the Think Tank was all but pointless. Additionally, if the members of the Think Tank got an answer correct, they didn’t receive any points or reward for it whatsoever. The Think Tank do a lot of the work – and get none of the glory.
But it was the second round that was especially baffling. The three contestants had to choose the different members of the Think Tank to pose the questions to them, but who they chose seemed largely irrelevant. Instead, it was more about showcasing the personalities of those in the Think Tank – from charismatic Max to affable Cleve – as they read out the questions. Which Bill would then promptly repeat straight afterwards, anyway.
After Rachel had been knocked out at the second round, the third saw Lucinda and Chris going head to head answering questions in a sort of penalty shootout scenario. Immediately it was more exciting and made for a much more interesting finale. Well, for the viewers that had stayed with Think Tank for more than 30 minutes, anyway.
The problem was that everyone taking part in Think Tank seemed to be having a jolly good laugh. It’s just that excitement was difficult to transfer through the screen to us watching at home.
And at 45 minutes, Think Tank felt very drawn out. It needed to be far more snappy and interesting, and so if it was shortened to half an hour and some of the rounds tweaked – and some of the waffle cut – it could be quite an innovative and engaging quiz show.
Think Tank is actually from the same production company that brought us the likes of The Weakest Link and Eggheads. Sadly, as it stands, it doesn’t feel as though Think Tank has their staying power.
This article is the opinion of Frances Taylor and not necessarily that of BT. Frances Taylor is a TV writer for BT.com.