The marvellous Richard Osman, of Pointless fame (which, anecdotally, seems to be everyone's favourite quiz show), has been running a game on Twiter called World Cup Of Sitcoms. He preceded this with a World Cup of Chocolate, and no doubt has more such ideas to come. It's jolly good fun and I urge everyone to join in. Just don't forget one important thing - I've been doing it for years.
The head-to-head elimination game that Richard calls World Cup Of... is a game show format that I first piloted back in 1998 as The Best. Somewhere I have a VHS recording of a stage version we made in Bristol, with panelists including Justin Lee Collins and Danny Robins, since which time a simplified flipchart version of the game has been the warm-up routine for The Sitcom Trials. Above we see me preparing the grid for a game of The Best ahead of the Eurovision Sitcom Contest back in May.
Having long since got past the "Best Sitcom" version of the game, we've played innumerable variations over the year, from Best Sitcom Sidekick (usually Baldrick), Best Sitcom Pet (won in the past by Santa's Little Helper), Best Sitcom Location (Torquay has played Tooting in the final), Best Sitcom Catchphrase (How You Doin'? vs I Don't Believe It) and my personal favourite Best Sitcom Vehicle (won at least twice by Compo, Clegg & Foggy in a bathtub).
My attempts to pitch The Best as a TV gameshow didn't get very far, the problem being that once a panellist has extolled the virtue of an item in their first head-to-head round, they end up having to repeat themselves when said items comes up again in the semi final and again in the final. The flipchart version, pitting just 9 audience suggestions in contest, with me drawing an improvised cartoon version of each suggestion, lasts about 5 minutes (up to 10 if it's going particularly well) and is an ideal warm-up for a show which is all about sitcoms. I've even performed The Best as the warm up for a studio recording in the BBC Radio Theatre (Hey Hey We're The Monks starring Bill Bailey & Simon Bates, now you ask).
So, there's another footnote in comedy history to add to the list. On with your business.
Kev F Sutherland
The Sitcom Trials