The Bubbe, BBC2

A topical news quiz on Friday night in which a witty panel are quizzed about the week’s events. Hang on, haven’t we seen this before? For the past 20 years?

Well, the Bubble has a twist. The guests are shut away from the world for a few days beforehand so they are oblivious to the stories, and then have to guess which one of a selection of them is true, and which are false.

Despite a few clunky elements, we enjoyed it. We’re not sure we’ll enjoy it every week, but in this opener the blend of guests and host was perfect.

Host David Mitchell’s awkwardness in chairing proceedings amused through his discomfort in having to control and guide a show rather than the liberation of a panellist who can rant and rave without restriction. A weakness that Reginald D Hunter took full advantage of, hilariously mocking the subdued Mitchell at every opportunity.

Victoria Coren’s simmering disdain for the mothers of ‘mumsnet’, whom she vilified for their shameless advertising of their fertility and deluded faith that they are in someway important, was a compelling advert for enforced national sterilisation in the belief that an extinct population is better than a conceited one. And she has a point.

While Frank Skinner picked out the idiosyncrasies in the stories, illuminating their absurdity. In the first round, he guessed that a report on Merseyside Police receiving a fine for using a mini-flying camera without permission because he thought an interview with a solicitor was too real: “No actor would play him that bleak.”

We’re not sure that the guests will be good enough to save it every week. If things get dour, we suppose Mitchell can always storm off on one of his tangential rants about the ridiculousness of the world. The opening news reports, however, were far too long and quite dull, while the show seemed to lack flow. You could see the join between each of the rounds as though the three rounds had been assembled from a much larger kit, most of which had been discarded because of obsolescence.
Although next week we’ll be back. Tempted by the prospect of lines as good as: “The man who has celebrated Christmas every day for 14 years has been found crucified in his back garden.”

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