Beat The Internet With John Robins. John Robins
Beat The Internet With John Robins

Beat The Internet With John Robins

  • TV comedy
  • Dave
  • 2018 - 2019
  • 20 episodes (1 series)

Comedy game show hosted by John Robins about the weird and wonderful results returned by search engines. Also features Sunil Patel.

John Robins and Sunil Patel interview

Beat The Internet With John Robins. Image shows from L to R: John Robins, Sunil Patel

BCG met up with John Robins and Sunil Patel to find out more about the comedy game show they're presenting on channel Dave, Beat The Internet With John Robins.

So how does the format work?

John: It's a quiz show where you have to guess what people are searching for; so it's a bit like Family Fortunes, but it isn't "the survey says", it's "the internet said"...

Sunil, you're the Richard Osman of this show?

Yeah, that's right, coming in hard with some facts.

My job is reading a few facts out and trying to make them relevant... and they are not!

Did you two know each other before this?

Sunil: We met on this project, so this is the first time we've worked together.

We've seen a couple of episodes already - it's a really addictive concept, one you can kind of guess along with at home...

John: Yes, the format is generally really good. The quiz show won't work unless people are playing along at home.

You've made 20 episodes... that's a massive number. How do you keep it fresh?

John: Well, they've got so much history - the whole internet to draw on; you kinda never run out of stuff. And because the people are always different, they are always throwing up some interesting individual things.

Beat The Internet With John Robins. John Robins

John, you try a coupe of the games yourself to set a score for the contestants to beat. What do you reckon your average score is, overall?

John: On the final end game, I'd say 7. I am very competitive.

Sunil: I play along in my head, but I try to let him win. I was in more of a support role. I was there to just rub your shoulders John, I think.

You must have learnt some facts in the process of filming this?

John: The Welsh like to search for deodorant a lot, that's one. There was a Stevenage one. The most frequent search for Stevenage is in Kenya...

Sunil: Yeah, because the football club set up a youth football stadium in Kenya, or something.

Beat The Internet With John Robins

Here's a test for you: how many search engines can you name?

John: Google; Alta Vista; Ask Jeeves; Bing; Duck duck duck....

Sunil: DuckDuckGo.

John: Yahoo; MSN... is that a search engine?

Sunil: It's Bing now, isn't it.

Good job. Essentially it's all Google nowadays though isn't it...

John: Yes, we had to be inventive; and sound the klaxon if anyone said 'the G word'.

This is the first TV show you've hosted John. How did you find it?

John: It was quite nice to just play around with the conventions of quiz shows. They were very keen for me to sort of embrace my inner Alan Partridge.

I think, even with quiz shows I am a big fan of, sometimes the interaction between the host and the contestants can be quite stilted and there's this sort of awkward moment where they ask what they do, and they then make a really bad joke. They were happy for us to sort of mess around a bit with that.

We liked the cheeky looks at the camera, and stuff like that. Did you ever meet the contestants outside of the games?

John: No, the first time we saw them was in there...

Sunil: I bumped into a couple smoking outside. They either complained, or were happy with what they got. But that's the only time I talked to them outside the studio.

Beat The Internet With John Robins. John Robins

Some of the answers are pretty thick... is it hard not to mock them?

John: Not so much thick; you have to come up with something on the spot, so you do say the first thing that comes into your head.

One was what would be good in a sauce, and he said Spaghetti Bolognese, which is a sauce itself. I would probably do the same, if I had to act under pressure. But, people at home usually start shouting at the screen...

It must be interesting for you Sunil, because you can sit there and have all the facts.

Sunil: I spent most of my time just wondering how exactly I'm trying to sell the next fact as something interesting. It's very hard sometimes! We get the facts before and then decide which ones we want to do. And, you know, there are a certain few things that don't make the cut. The very best facts we've got are on the screen, so don't worry.

Beat The Internet With John Robins. Sunil Patel

We really like the old skool approach of having a rolodex.

Sunil: Yes, you are not the only person that said that; yeah, people really like that.

So what was it like having to film so many episodes?

John: Quite hot to begin with, then we got air conditioning, and people could finally see that my suggestion that air conditioning would make it less hot was probably correct.

It was nice to feel that I had a job; going in to work and hanging out with people. Eating in the same place... I really liked it.

Sunil: I think it was really fun when we were doing lots in a day, it really felt like we were getting into the swing of things.

John: It was a full day. Quite intense.

I got to keep my clothes because they had to buy new clothes because all my clothes had 'Queen' on them. I was not allowed to promote the brand of Queen for some reason, so they had to buy me lots of clothes.

Sunil: I refused to keep my clothes. I can't believe they got me a cricket jumper in a 40 degrees studio.

It's interesting you mentioning the idea of a fixed job. Could you see yourself becoming full-time TV presenting people?

John: I would like to work in the booze aisle of a massive Sainsbury's! But no, I would like to do more stuff like this. I like shows like Bake Off and Traffic Cops. I'd like to try to and break Theakston's stranglehold on the traffic cops presenting voiceover world; he's got a lot of fingers in a lot of pies - I think he's been giving backhanders to the Met!

Thanks for your time guys. What's next for you then after this show?

Sunil: I'm doing Edinburgh next year, so will be building up a show for that.

Beat The Internet With John Robins. John Robins

John, presumably you're off to the cinema to watch Bohemian Rhapsody?

John: I've seen it twice so far!

I'll be touring with Elis, for our book The Holy Vible, in January. We got a few pilots we are working on too. But that's around his very hectic schedule presenting TV's Greatest Movie Blunders for 5Star. Ha ha. That's his real passion; if anything his stand-up and the radio show get in the way of his blunders obsession.

I will probably be touring next year also.

I'm doing a column for Metro. That's a fortnightly column, which is good fun.

I'm also thinking about leasing a Kia Sportage.

The pilot you and Elis are working on; can you tell us any more?

John: We've got two or three things in with production companies. One which has been turned down five times. Including twice by the channel that commissioned it, which is quite remarkable. They said, 'no, don't want that', then they said, 'actually we might want that', then 'Oh no we don't'. So we are looking forward for that being turned down again now.

It's difficult because of the success of our radio show, and because we got a nice dynamic together, people sort of wrongly think that would work in any format, so we've got pitched stuff like 'Emergency DIY with John and Elis'. That's not our world really.

We'd watch it!

John: Ha. I'm just trying to think of stuff that suits us and we would enjoy doing, as opposed to just going 'they can present a programme about buying properties in the Dordogne'. I would like to do something like Bake Off with Elis, that would be great. But not actually Bake Off, because Sandi and Noel are so great. Maybe Boots Off... The Great British Boots Off - don't mention that!

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