James Delingpole James Delingpole

Family favourites | 23 November 2017

Why the Detectorists is the most subversive sitcom on the BBC

It’s a weird sensation getting your child back for an extended period when for the previous decade you’ve been packing him off every few weeks back to boarding school. Obviously, it’s quite pleasant, amusing and enlightening to study at close hand and at length this alien thing that you’ve bred. At the same time, though, they don’t half become a discombobulatingly overbearing presence.

For example, in the old days I would definitely have reviewed Howards End, even though I can’t stand E.M. Forster or the ghastly pinko Schlegel sisters. But now that the Fawn and I no longer have the house to ourselves, we have to fall in with Boy’s viewing schedule, which is largely comprised of quiz shows.

Any quiz show, pretty much. His tastes extend from the most intellectual of intellectual — the painfully abstruse Only Connect, with its horned vipers and twisted sheaves and Victoria Coren with her Sphinx-like smile — to the veritably brainless (but horribly addictive) Tipping Point, where the skill owes less to general knowledge than to judging when to release the disc that pushes all the other discs over the edge, as in that cascade game they have in penny arcades.

Our three family favourites, though —the only ones we can all agree to watch at all times without bloodshed — are the Aldi, Waitrose and M&S of quiz shows: The Chase, Eggheads and Pointless. I’ve probably only space for Pointless this week, so that’s what I’ll concentrate on.

Recently, it celebrated its thousandth episode, which I watched with a mix of joy and disgust. The disgust is a product of my bitterness and seething envy that, unlike Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, there’s never going to be a moment in my life where a giant forefinger points down from the skies and says: ‘YOU have been chosen to present the funniest, most likable quiz show in TV history.

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