Monkey Business (1)



Henry Kelly


Team captains: Jeremy Cherfas and Floella Benjamin


BBC1, 6 March to 14 April 1985 (8 episodes)


Primetime midweek quiz with celebrities in a jungle-inspired set. We dimly recall Floella Benjamin being on it as a regular team captain, Jeremy Cherfas was the captain of the opposing team and, it being a mid-80s panel game, Liza Goddard was almost certainly involved too - possibly as a guest panellist, although certainly not as a regular. We also recall Dave Lee Travis and the late Cliff Morgan appearing as guests on at least one show each. There was some business about blocky computer-graphic monkeys appearing on the scoreboards - the teams could try to increase their scores by hitting a button and hoping that at least one monkey would appear on the board, fruit machine-style.

Otherwise, the quiz was wildlife-based - but what on earth possessed the programme-makers to pit Floella Benjamin, who was not a naturalist (or at least not famed as one), up against Jeremy Cherfas? Anyway, the show came across as pretty cheap and tacky, especially when the computer-graphic monkeys were used and the overly jovial nature of the show detracted from the subject matter. It could be argued that it's always difficult to know how to pitch a wildlife-based quiz - it can easily end up either too serious and highbrow (like, perhaps, another of Cherfas's series, What on Earth...?) and therefore not popular viewing, or too frivolous and OTT for the subject. Monkey Business definitely fell into the latter category. However, one good feature of the programme was that both teams had to complete an animal-based limerick by the end of every show - these could be amusing, even if little else was.

Derek Nimmo was a guest on one of the shows and, not uncharacteristically, made an almighty fuss when during one of the rounds you had to find the missing animal which was blanked out in a song. Nimmo got upset at the use of a word that was not only several types of bird but also a slang term for a part of a woman's upper torso. We also remember him getting stroppy when appearing on Blankety Blank - it rather begs the question, 'Why did he ever appear on these shows anyway?'


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