Six pantomime favourites, Father Christmas and Roy Wood gather round to answer questions. Some on a Christmassy bent, others not so much.
You might be surprised to hear that Pointless has been on television since 2009, with Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman steering the helm for all that time. Seven years later, it appears in Armstrong's "best known as" lede on Wikipedia. In that time they've had several Christmas specials, and the 2013 one stands out to me.
Ho-ho-who's in it?
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The 2013 line-up includes the pairings of: Brookside alums and pantomime faves Linda Lusari and Sam Kane; Paul and Barry Chuckle; Keith Harris and Orville; and Roy Wood and Santa.
Keith and Orville are a strange combination, seeing as their both the same person. You can't help but feel that that would be a bit of a handicap for Britain's most famous ventriloquist.
Meanwhile, you may not recognise Wood by name, but he's the front-man of Wizzard and responsible for writing their big Christmas hit I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. It was recognised at the time that most of Wizzard's creative input came from Wood, and perhaps that lone-wolf mentality explains his pairing with a Santa impersonator rather than a colleague or contempoary.
Santa turns out to be a bit of a pain in the arse. He's a bit too keen to be the centre of attention, and stumbles a bit with ad libbing. But he does have his own website which it's worth taking a diversion to investigate. He has a wide wardrobe of outfits and confusingly serves "London, Manchester, Birmingham, [...], UK, GB". A bit of rogue SEO perhaps.
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Round 1 provides some musical fun, asking teams to identify performers on Band Aid 20. Admittedly this isn't actually Christmas music, but you can't help but get the song in your head a bit.
There's also a Christmas song question in the head-to-head, where contestants need to unscramble the names of song titles. Other than "Blob By Mr", these are actually quite hard for a celebrity episode.
But where the Christmas music juices really start flowing is after the quiz has concluded and it's revealed that "Roy Wood and his band" will be performing "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" live in the studio. This goes down extremely well with contestants and audience alike who dutifully clap and sing along. And it's really nice actually. It feels very fun, positive, and seasonal.
Then you suddenly remember that this must be filmed in at least September, and it all feels slightly uncomfortable.
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I already mentioned two of the Christmas spirited rounds. Round two also had a vague Christmas flavour, asking teams to name countries ending in "-an" (the connection being that Santa has to visit all the countries of the world). Only 15 answers were available, none of them pointless, and it was interesting to see what the most obscure were.
Amusingly, this wasn't a good round for Santa, who played for time a lot and complained that they "kept changing their names". I suppose he has been around a good long time.
The set was decorated, Christmas jumpers were donned, and sleigh bells were available to the hosts. Add the live music, and you've got quite the Christmas special. But questions on Scooby Doo and football did take some of the Christmas shine off, and remind you that you're watching a game show.
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Aside from a hint by Santa that he might not be exactly what he's cracked up to be, there is nothing at here to offend anyone of any age. And being a celebrity special, the questions are all conveniently much more accessible. The jokes are lighthearted, with Armstrong and Osman their typical, charming selves.
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A great Christmas show! Full of classic tropes and festive fun.
If you'd like to watch the Pointless 2013 special, you can find it on YouTube.