There's something acutely charmless about The Guess List. Add the merest touch of desperation and look what you've got - a Saturday-night game show. Host Rob Brydon works tremendously hard to keep the thing pelting along as he gently, and often not so gently, insults a panel of celebrity guests who this week include Nick Hewer, Helen Skelton and Eamonn Holmes.
Inevitably there's plenty of ribaldry when the guests are asked to pinpoint an embarrassing first date.Alison Graham, Radio Times, 17th May 2014
He's not a scurrying puppy like Michael McIntyre, more a comedy terrier, biting the ankles of a joke until it works.David Butcher, Radio Times, 3rd May 2014
I quite enjoyed The Guess List, hosted by the fantastic Rob Brydon. Awkward moments aside, the jokes were consistent and it was a pretty harmless, pleasant show. What was made apparent from this first, rather tentative episode was that nobody really seemed to understand what was going on. Everyone seemed a bit confused, but happy all the same, like an extremely drunk aunt at a birthday party. To be honest, most of the show is just waffle and fodder. Don't get me wrong, it's good waffle and fodder, but it is definitely an odd format.Lucy Anna Gray, Gray Comedy, 19th April 2014
Rob Brydon's legendary geniality is exploited as the host of BBC1's new Saturday-evening game show The Guess List, in which a panel of celebrities help two contestants to answer a wide variety of wacky questions. Sound familiar? It is so obviously a rehash of Blankety Blank, it is a mystery why they didn't just call it that and be done with it.
The celebrities, it has to be said, are top-notch. That is to say, I had heard of all of them. But having recruited guests of such high calibre as Jennifer Saunders, Simon Callow and James Corden, the show gave them practically nothing to do, while the host hardly let them get a word in. Brydon was manic to the point of hyperactive from the off, and never eased up for a second. It was as though he felt a single-handed responsibility to keep the programme going - yet the more frantic his efforts, the more uncomfortable the viewing experience.Harry Venning, The Stage, 17th April 2014
The show was essentially a take on the classic Blankety Blank as two contestants answer a series of mundane questions alongside a panel of famous faces. However, The Guest List sees the panel answer the question first before the contestant can then agree with one of their answers or choose their own.
The highlight of the entire show though is the presentation style of host Rob Brydon, who realises how ludicrous the entire programme is. It's clear that the producers have given Brydon a lot of leeway as he appears to be ad-libbing for large sections of the programme. Due to Brydon's light-hearted style his interaction with the celebrity guests doesn't feel forced and I do think that these segments could've been excruciating when put into the hands of a less jovial host.
Brydon bounced especially well off James Corden due to their existing chemistry as Gavin & Stacey co-stars while gymnast Louis Smith essentially became a performing monkey as he was tasked with both singing and dancing. But the surprise of the evening was the participation of Simon Callow who isn't your stereotypical BBC One panel show star. Callow's tremendous laugh coupled with some of his more outlandish answers made him the perfect foil for Brydon and the two played off each other magnificently.
The tone of most of the questions was slightly suggestive and as this was a pre-watershed programme there was a little bit of smut thrown in. My big criticism was of the format itself, with not one of the celebrities helping the contestants with an answer all evening. But, at the end of the day, that didn't really matter as I found The Guess List to be perfect Saturday night entertainment that didn't ask too much of me as a viewer and provided plenty of laughter throughout.The Custard TV, 15th April 2014
Say what you like about Rob Brydon - and I certainly plan to - but he hosts a brain-ruining celebrity quiz show with aplomb. Those hours spent remaining cheerful while dining opposite Steve Coogan's wet-weekend-in-Ancoats face on The Trip to Italy are certainly paying dividends.
How bad is The Guess List (BBC1)? It's as likely as Michael McIntyre's chatshow to make it to a second series. It makes Would I Lie to You?, Brydon's other quiz show, seem like a work of shattering genius.
That said, I couldn't look away. "How lovely to be this close to a fox and not worry it's going to sniff round your bins," said Brydon introducing his first celebrity guest, Emilia Fox. "I speak for everybody when I say I loved The Vicar of Dibley," he said, introducing Jennifer Saunders. He went on with similar amiable insults to the other usual suspects (Simon Callow, Louis Smith, James Corden), while they kept their smiles mirthlessly frozen. If there isn't yet a Bafta for best rictus in quiz show adversity, it is only a matter of time.
The idea is, five celebrities come up with a plausible answer to a question, and then two contestants have to decide which, if any of those suggestions, is most plausible. For example: "According to a poll, what should old people do three times a week to help them live longer?" "Tango," said Callow, insanely. "Orgasm," said Corden, sensibly. "Exercise," said Smith, boringly. The answer? Oh come on! It's have sex.
Only one of the contestants seemed to have trouble with The Guess List's concept. Naturally, she won. But then she also told us she'd moved from Birmingham to Australia after watching Wanted Down Under, which is the very definition of madness.
Celebrity input seemed so superfluous that the show could readily have been renamed Pointless Celebrities. Here's my question: "Which of the following collective nouns is the odd one out: A) murder of crows; B) whoop of gorillas; C) busyness of ferrets; D) pointlessness of celebrities?" Answer: D) I want to hear more from the other three.Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, 14th April 2014
Rob Brydon has a surprisingly rare, but commercially valuable, ability to be both granny-friendly and genuinely funny.Ellen E Jones, The Independent, 13th April 2014
The fun is in the sparky, spikey script and the chemistry between Brydon and the celebs.Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 12th April 2014
In theory we have a new game show here but in practice, that's overstating it. This is a chance for Rob Brydon to flex his comic muscles as bullying, joshing host. There's a good ten minutes of jokey chit-chat at the start as we meet the celebrity panel ("Emilia Fox... have you ever done a real autopsy?") and then the contestants. The game itself is so barely there that after half an hour (and this really isn't a spoiler) only one point has been scored.
But Brydon's relentless comic energy drives the thing on as he tries to get Simon Callow to tango or has Louis Smith sing a song with James Corden. It's hard to resist smiling in the face of the Brydon hurricane but we could do with more game and less show.David Butcher, Radio Times, 12th April 2014