Channel sets brain alight

There is a strange sort of solace to be found in the fact that on every television channel, no matter how far outside your demographic it sits, there is something worth watching.

That solace is similar to that found in the quiet certainty that in every second-hand shop there is an item you want.

Or, even in a party packed with complete idiots, there will be someone worth talking to.

These things keep one going in life.

So in a recent restless search through the rough, when the buttons on the remote control have their little numbers slowly but surely worn away, it was on TVNZ's U channel that the diamond was found.

U what, you say?

TVNZ launched U earlier this month, describing it as a ground-breaking new channel which integrates online social networking with broadcast content for the first time on New Zealand screens.

U is apparently a commercial-free, free-to-air digital channel which features a mix of real life and factual entertainment programming.


U channel is also aimed at Kiwis aged 15-24.

That age-group is one of my least favourite, behind the elderly, the very young and the middle aged.

That does not, though, mean U has nothing to offer the 1-14 age group, or the 25 to corpse demographic.

Because what it does have is The People's Book of Records at 11.30 on Wednesdays, and Banzai at 7pm on Saturdays.

The People's Book of Records is quality television.

Presented by Dominic Coleman, and filmed on location around Britain, the series offers individuals a chance to be champions in a league of their own.

So, for instance, one fellow attempts to be the world's worst psychic.

His world beating exercise involves getting his chum to look at a playing card, after which our hero attempts to read his mind to discover what it is.

He fails badly.

This is worthwhile television.

Other highlights were the fellow who rubs yeast extract on his bottom and gets his dog to - no, you'll just have to watch this yourself - and blindfolded football passing, where the two contestants spent 99% of the time wandering blindfolded around a field trying to find the ball.

I laughed.

It's this sort of intellectually stimulating fare we just don't get enough of.

If you have never watched Banzai, have never seen Mr Shake Hands Man or heard the call to "prace your bets", you have never really lived.

Banzai is a television classic, with betting contests including grannies playing chicken on motorised wheelchairs, blindfold gas pumping, and guessing the size of "body parts", all games designed to set the brain alight with intellectual thoughts.

Promise yourself you won't miss these shows.


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