I absolutely loved Dave Gorman’s show Genius on Radio 4. I used to listen to it in the night when I was breastfeeding Joe (What? TMI?) and occasionally laughed so hard he lost his, er, grip. (Definitely TMI…)
But when it transferred to BBC2, it didn’t quite work. It was okay, it was funny enough, but something wasn’t quite right. Fortunately for this second series, they’ve made some changes and it’s greatly improved. But more of that in a mo’.
If case you’ve never seen or heard of it, the idea is very simple. Members of the public come up with ideas and inventions that they think might be “genius”. It’s then up to Dave Gorman and celebrity guests to decide whether or not they are.
But it’s not Tomorrow’s World – the ideas are usually entertainingly bonkers. For example, the first idea of this new series was Jim’s: “To stop people falling asleep behind the wheel, every car should have a wasp in it.”
Obviously that is genius… until you start looking at the logistics. And it’s often when Gorman and guests start looking at the logistics that Genius really hits its stride. Even when the guests aren’t comedians they seem to get into the spirit of the show. For example, one of my favourite guests on the radio was Germaine Greer.
So the format change: There are now two guests instead of one – last night it was Russell Howard and Hazel Irvine – and instead of having the potential genius present from a kind of pulpit on the stage, they just present from the audience (which is I think is how the radio show was done, but I can’t be sure since, you know, I couldn’t see it on the radio).
They also have the audience vote on everyone’s ideas and then the guests have to guess which one won. This results in the audience shouting “Higher!” “Lower!” – anything that harkens back to the glory days of Play Your Cards Right is always good with me.
This week they also did a kind of spoof Mastermind with a man who’d sent the most ideas – more than a hundred – into the show. Like putting dead things inside of Easter Eggs to teach children the real meaning of Easter, which made me snort.
After the last series, I wasn’t particularly excited about watching Genius again – I would have watched it, but just because it was on, if you know what I mean. But with the new format, I’m adding it to my list of excellent Monday night viewing. Genius. (Probably.)