Happy New Year to you. You probably spent New Year’s Day rather differently from the four of us here. For most of the day our TV was tuned in to a station called Challenge (46 on our multi-channel box) which was showing old editions of the ITV quiz show “The Chase”. The days either side of Christmas were similar. From Christmas Eve through till 27 December there was an unbroken run of at least 72 hours when “The Chase” was the only show being broadcast on Challenge. It was advertised heavily with the phrase “Merry Chasemas”.
My interest in the show lies primarily in the questions. My son and daughter care more than I do about the drama. How many contestants make it to the final chase? Do they win the money? We have seen some of these repeated episodes more than once and I rarely recall the outcome. My wife has spent fewer hours watching the show then we have but still joins us for the odd episode or two. Now that “Strictly Come Dancing” has finished its run, quiz shows constitute most of our family viewing, though on the evening of 27 December we did watch the 1992 movie “Wayne’s World” together. I had picked up the DVD for 99p at the local Oxfam bookshop and it was still in its shrink-wrap. Like the 1996 version of “Matilda”, which we have watched as a family more than once, it fulfils one of my main criteria for family films: it’s short, only 90 minutes long. That’s the equivalent of one and a half episodes of “The Chase”, or two episodes of “Pointless”. Most excellent, in the words of Wayne and Garth.
Returning to yesterday’s quiz show marathon none of us spent more than an hour at a time actively watching the box but I did manage to catch the final rounds of 12 successive episodes, with the benefit of being able to rewind, forward and pause live TV. I saw teams of celebrities win money for charity: Carole Vorderman and Paul Ross in a team of four won 100k; Joe Pasquale and former England Rugby International Austin Healey won 14k; and Shaun Williamson (Barry from “Eastenders”) led a team that outran The Beast to claim 56k.
While these 12 hours of “The Chase” played out, often in the background, we did manage to get on with our normal Bank Holiday lives: late breakfasts, late lunch, a long walk (though we failed to leave the house before dusk). With Sky Sports on the laptop I kept an eye on Leeds United’s goalless draw at home to Nottingham Forest and, after 8pm, Rob Cross beating Phil “The Power” Taylor to win the PDC World Darts Championship. The children were in bed just after 10pm and I stayed up for another hour, all screens switched off for the night, reading an actual book: “The Thirty Nine Steps” by John Buchan, which I started in 2016 but failed to finish. There are other part-read books from the last two years that I really should try and read in 2018. It will make a change from watching quiz shows.