Grand Slam: not a documentary about the national rugby team, not a children's show about a WWF wrestling move and certainly not an organisation of hunter-conservationists dedicated to improving and perpetuating wild sheep and goat populations worldwide. Grand Slam is, in fact, Channel 4's first peaktime quiz show since Celebrity Countdown several years ago, this time up against East-Enders in the 8pm slot.
Grand Slam replaces Can You Live Without ... and precedes the typically young Friday night line-up of Big Brother and Friends, attempting to fill a void and attract an upmarket audience of eyes not distracted by Albert Square. Competition such as House Doctor (five), Tonight With Trevor McDonald (ITV) and The Flying Gardener (BBC2) are not exactly ratings winners compared with BBC1 at 8pm, although they do pull in a more affluent audience, perhaps preferring moisturiser from Covent Garden's The Sanctuary rather than the average soap. Grand Slam washes in the same water.
The host of the show is none other than the "dirty, loud and brilliant" brainbox Carol Vorderman. She quizzes selected winners from the armchair favourites of Fifteen to One, Countdown, Mastermind, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Weakest Link and they pay to play for the £50,000 prize. The 16 contestants have to risk £1,000 of their own money and negotiate their way round a mixture of tactics and general knowledge to outmanoeuvre their opponents and claim the money.
Vorderman, who is soon to switch allegiance and present five's Telepathic and who is supremely clever herself, might have been better as a Slater sister on BBC1 since Grand Slam only did 2.5 ratings for ABC1 adults. The distracting voices in the background and the scarecrow-like appearance of the presenter made Grand Slam seem like a daytime chat show masquerading as something better.
After questioning why I was watching TV on a Friday night, my thoughts wandered unwittingly towards a quote from Franz Beckenbauer during the World Cup last year, where he said that if you put all the German players in a sack and punched it, whichever player you hit would deserve it. It was no coincidence that William G Stewart, Richard Whiteley, Magnus Magnusson, Chris Tarrant, Anne Robinson, Carol Vorderman and the same sack appeared in my mind.
It seems that the winner of Grand Slam has to survive the eight-week duration and presumably not complain about the jackpot being 20 times less than Tarrant's potential Saturday night cheque. It doesn't take the combined IQs on the show to realise that the audience will be about the same as the prize money.
Stuart Kuczynsk, a TV planner/buyer at Initiative Media London, is usually to be found propping up the bar at the London nightspot Digress on a Friday night
Broadcaster: Channel 4
Frequency: Friday at 8pm
Audience: 1.2 million
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