We Recommend: Copycats

If you haven’t heard of Copycats, chances are you’re a grown up with a job, a social life and better things to do at four in the afternoon on a Tuesday.

That’s right, I said four o’clock, that long-since forgotten TV timeslot you once used to look forward to all day at school. Whilst it now means nothing more than there being only one more hour of staring at a monitor, pretending to be working as hard as you should be, for kids it's still that glorious time in the day that you get to throw down your school bag and watch some mindless TV.

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"Copycats is a kids show then?" I hear you ask. Whilst the answer is technically yes, I’m here to tell you why it’s so much more.

Copycats is a family game show where teams of six family members and friends, both children and adults, battle it out to win the (knocked up by the BBC props department in a hurry) Copycats trophy. Each show contains various physical rounds that vary from week to week, sandwiched in between three rounds of what are basically Chinese whispers.

The physical rounds are what you’d expect from a family game show; blindfolded shopping trolley basketball, running up a conveyer belt with an inflatable fish whilst wearing flippers, driving a motorised toilet to a pile of loo rolls before placing it on your spiked helmet etc. Whilst it’s obvious most of the physical rounds could only have been devised by a mind that’s been on one-too-many acid trips, there is the occasional and wonderfully simple team tilt maze. Watching kids and adults trying to coordinate with each other to get that ball around a maze offers the cheap kind of tension TV has lacked since the Crystal Maze, and all without having to resort to watching Phillip Schofield lock someone in a Perspex box.

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The jewels in this shows crown are the Chinese whispers rounds the first of which is Mime Time. All six contestants stand in a line, separated by sliding cubicle doors. The first contestant is shown a card telling them what action they must mime, for instance sunbathing, fishing, dancing. The mime is then passed down the line, and more often than not hilarity ensues. My first introduction to this show was turning on my TV halfway though this round, only to be greeted by a grown man thrusting his groin at a small child who appeared frozen to the spot with puzzlement and fear. That was more or less my reaction too, but once the round had ended and all was put into context I was quickly convinced a phone call to social services wouldn’t be necessary.

The music round follows the same format but now each contestant has a kazoo on which they must perform a popular song based only on it’s performance from the person before them. Rest assured one of the poor blighters will fail get a single note out of the kazoo, an instrument played by simply humming into it, and the whole round will be a complete disaster.

My favourite round is usually Quick on the Draw, essentially Pictionary crossed with Chinese whispers. The person first in line will have to draw, say, a link of sausages, and the next person just has to copy. Once again, much to the amusement of the viewer, person number one can’t draw to save their life. His doodle looks nothing like a link of sausages, but you know what it does look like and that is not something that's exactly appropriate for 4pm on a Tuesday.

Fortunately you’re not alone. Presenters of the show Sam and Mark, once of Pop Idol fame, know exactly what the drawing looks like too. You can tell by the fact they’re pissing themselves laughing and giving a knowing glance to camera as two or three generations of the same family help the drawing evolve into what are clearly anal beads. Sam and Mark are fantastic with the kids but are clearly aware at least two rounds regularly become complete smut, but in that tongue in cheek yet somehow blissfully innocent way that we Brits do so well.

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Copycats is as good a game show as anything Auntie Beeb has given a Saturday night slot to in recent years, and as clichéd as it sounds Copycats does offer something for the whole family. Kids will laugh at the rubbish drawings and music, parents will laugh at the innuendo, Aunt Irene will drool over the idea of a Sam and Mark (or SMark) sandwich, and grandma will be glad of the company and the chance to yell “He’s drawing anal beads’ at the television.

Find out more about Copycats on their BBC page, and watch a clip here.

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