So after 25 years, the BBC has decided to pass on the option of another series of Mastermind and offer Magnus Magnusson the opportunity to "pursue other interests". I never watched the programme and I certainly never harboured an ambition to sit in the famous black chair. My Uncle Bob had one the same so I could visit him and spend hours whirling round in it until I flew off, demolishing whole shelves of bric-a-brac. Myself, I always felt this was far more televisual than some anorak answering questions about 17th Century French bed pans, but the Beeb passed on a series of that too. Of course, Magnus never asked Fred Housego, the genius taxi driver, the most difficult question of all:
"If you're so pigging smart, how come you're driving taxis?"
He was probably a student trying to supplement his grant.
What we really need now is an updated Mastermind for the 90s. And fortunately John Birt must be a really lucky man, because I have it! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new series of Stupid Twats , the game show that challenges ordinary people to prove there's no such thing as idiot-proof or underestimating the public intelligence.
Much like Chris Evans' "Ugly Blokes" spot on TFI Friday , every week ST will highlight regular nonentities who are incredibly, mind-bogglingly dense. There's a bit of Ask the Family in there too, except with Mr & Mrs Thick and the Thick kids as panellists. You may be wondering where we're going to find these people, in which case you must be pretty dumb yourself and should therefore apply at once (we accept crayon on the application form, don't worry.) The problem is more likely to be stopping ourselves from using large chunks of the intended audience. I actually have a whole series' worth of contestants already lined up and can now exclusively reveal that they will consist entirely of former school "mates" who thought I was a swotty geek and weren't slow to demonstrate their disapproval. For example, in the first show we're going to be featuring Bill H, who made my first year at secondary so pleasant and welcoming, and pitting his limited IQ against some pretty tough questions:
"Bill, you never rated academic achievement highly during your school days. Can you tell us what sense of achievement you get out of serving fries in MacDonalds?"
"Never mind, Bill, we'll go on to the next one. Once upon a time, one of us used to beat the other up. Now one of us can afford to pay a whole gang of thugs to beat the other up. Isn't this ironic?"
"Well here's your chance to FIND OUT, Bill!!!"
After Bill has had a good kicking live on TV, the show proceeds to the track events, hopefully on a stretcher in Bill's case. Here we will lay his half-dead remains on a race track while I drive my rather nice car over it. Then we'll see if it's had any noticeable effect on his powers of reasoning. Can you imagine the ratings at this point?!
I can already foresee the hoards of liberal Courier readers putting pen to paper and scribbling, "That's how Nazi Germany started, you know!" Wrong (don't forget, crayon will do!). First of all, they didn't have TV. And secondly, we're only following in a long tradition of Saturday evening programmes basing their whole concept around the fact that some people are daft enough to do anything to get on TV. I see Stupid Twats as bringing the glamour and sophistication of Blind Date and Gladiators to the tired Mastermind format. While one channel is featuring people who've won a lot of money on the lottery, we'll be meeting people who lost all their money playing it! But we're adding one crucial ingredient that those shows lack: honesty. Our contestants are little more than low grade protein and we'll be telling them so. You can't complain we lack a moral foundation.
Now you may feel it's rather cruel to victimise people who, in the end, were only disadvantaged children taking out their frustrations on a system that was failing them. Kids, after all, have only a limited amount of personal responsibility. And exercising my incredible honesty again, I have to say that I agree. But my newfound honesty also impels me to point out that I hope Bill suffers inutterable agonies, mental and especially physical, for every day of the rest of his miserable and regrettable life, and when it's ended prematurely I hope the afterlife elevator is taking him down. Because as you can tell, he's not the only one who's screwed up. It's a good job I'm not religious or I'd be feeling really guilty about this.
Stupid Twats is only one small step on the road to realising this dream. I'm particularly excited about the second programme in which, not only will we be boiling Arnold R alive in a vat full of tomatoes (it's a long story), but I'll be snogging his ex-girlfriend in front of him while it's happening (as I say, some people will do anything to get on TV). And after we've got through all my former classmates (don't worry, Greeney, I won't forget you like you forgot me!), we'll expand the brief of the show in the next series to include people who get in your way in Safeways, who cut you up at traffic lights, who refuse to serve you at the bar and who you just don't like. There are 57 million people in this country and simple observation suggests a good 20% are eligible for Stupid Twats ; certainly enough for 25 years, if not decades. And that's before we sell the overseas rights, at which point most of America will be queuing up to appear. Join us on Saturday when we'll be watching you, watching us, making you, look like chumps.
Ade "Nice to see you, to see you sliced" Rixon