Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Right Royal let down or Its A Muck-up... - A look at The Grand Knockout Tournament

Having now seen 'The Royal Knockout Tournament' for myself, well since it had appeared on television. With everything that surrounds Stuart Hall's links with it, one question to come out of it is, why? The initial idea put onto paper seems a good one, get the royals and some celebrities to play some wacky games all for charity. Then again how can this fail at all, though perhaps maybe on how it can succeed at all. Apart from Mr Hall, the line up seems like a who's who of mid to late 80's celebrities from both sides of the Atlantic. The likes of Chicago Bears players rubbing shoulders with Gary Lineker, Geoff Capes on centurion guard duty, Les Dawson trying to be some sort of foil where Eddie Waring once stood.

Though itself, the actual games could be transferred into any era. But yet, it seems to be trying to hard. With Rowan Atkinson in full on Blackadder mode, with a seeming disinterested face that he's been dragged along to Alton Towers for an afternoon's 'fun'. Fun by proxy, it seems. Seemingly where seeing giant costumes and people falling in the water, maybe conceived as fun. However the reality is something different, expecting lots to wet faces, actually some of the celebrities are quite able. The site of Toyah Wicox shinning along a wet spinning log, is some what surreal and surprising when she is rather good at it. Actually, it is hardly surprising that Christopher Reeve, then at the peak of full fitness can be as adept as the character he plays on screen. Then again, the site of him flying off and smiling at the camera as he does so, maybe have been too much even for some of our star studded stars themselves.

Clearly with the programme trying to appeal to more global audience, with Meatloaf turning up to rub shoulders with Mel Smith, knowing about Mel's Meatloaf parody can seem slightly surreal. Coming with this is that all the events are sponsored from the likes of McDonalds through to Asda putting their names to games, when maybe time spent on thinking up new product ranges might be a bit more profitable then getting involved with this. But then again the whole thing does have a whiff of Fine Fare about it, cheap and cheerful. Knowing with the afterwards, with questions being thrown at Prince Edward or lack of them it seems for all its efforts that it doesn't even have a proper feel of something special. Its more akin to a wet Wednesday trudging around a half completed theme park then actually something most people would be proud to have taken part in. Though not surprising that most of the celebrities would not have put it on their showreel at all. 

For all its efforts in trying too hard, this is the final nail in the coffin for Its A Knockout as a format. Yes, there was that Channel 5 revival with Keith Chegwin and the woman who now does 'Homes Under The Hammer'. Its is the death knell for a format that with S. Hall taken out of it, did quite well for itself. Though laughter maybe a tonic, its not laughing along with it. By the year of its broadcast in 1987, the public are laughing at it. Something from a bygone age dragged out once again to fill a gap, yet as such it does say more about why it was dragged out. An idea thought up by a Prince, filled in by the BBC and finished with a side order of fries.

The connotations are now there, allowing for something to be viewed as ironic. But for all the irony, I can't see Charlie Brooker dressing up as a foam rubber giant for our entertainment. Perhaps celebrities are above that now, with an easy choice of learning how to twirl a hoola-hoop or ballroom dancing. Celebrity had become sofa based, just like the people who were watching this. For all a level of smart intelligence, comes a need to make a fool of one's self. It its self-evident in The Grand Knockout Tournament, but yet without it would not have been half as much fun pulling it apart. Cruel but purposeful, of which it can be said on reflection that it does say a lot about 1987 itself.

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