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Don't Scare the Hare: Without question, the worst gameshow in the world, ever

Don't Scare The Hare, the BBC's newest Saturday night gameshow, is the first programme to be created at the new MediaCityUK complex in Salford, Manchester. The Beeb are investing £1 billion in their new flagship Northern headquarters, so you may think the first show they've chosen to make there is an innovation in the field of light entertainment, a watershed moment in broadcasting history. You may think that, but you'd be wrong - Don't Scare The Hare is, without question, the worst game show in the world, ever. For the uninitiated, here's the premise. Contestants enter a cartoonish forest - all yellow trees and purple skies - which looks like somewhere the Teletubbies might go camping. There the contestants compete in challenges to collect carrots, and those with the most win. But stopping them from completing these challenges - which, incidentally, are called things like (haha!) Pond Memories or (hehe!) What's Up Shock - is a four foot tall robotic hare, who will steal the carrots back if disturbed. If this sounds like an outrageously naff idea for a TV programme, that's because it is. There are oodles of things wrong with Don't Scare The Hare, but chief among them is the titular character himself. The hare's name is Hare. God only knows how long it took to come up with that. And he is a 'he' rather than an 'it', by the way. We know this because he has a crush on Fiona Bruce from the Antiques Roadshow. Yes, really. Traditionally, rabbits and hares are portrayed as cute and lovable - think of Watership Down, or Thumper from Bambi. Hare single-handedly bucks this trend by being not just annoying but terrifying as well. With his white plastic body and glowing eyes, he resembles Sonny from I, Robot: a sort of sleek, frightening Terminator figure sent back through time to destroy the Beeb's reputation. As gameshow mascots go, Hare is decidedly sub-par. A bipolar bunny is not what most people want from their teatime entertainment. 3-2-1 had Dusty Bin, with his big red nose and toothy smile. Bullseye had Bully, a jolly bovine darts king. Catchphrase had Mr Chips; a robot, yes, but a cheerful golden one with a fondness for neckerchiefs. All these sprites are better than Hare, who simply stands about, wiggling his evil nose, squeaking his menacing squeak. (A quick aside; do you think they tried any other animals before settling on a bunny? What would the show have been called if it was based around another creature instead? Don't Shock The Croc, perhaps? Don't Upset The Egret?) Presiding over the madness is Jason Bradbury, dressed like the demented spawn of Harry Hill and Gok Wan. One can't help but feel sorry for lovely Jason. In the first episode he introduces himself: "I live in a magical forest with my mate Hare", he says, barely audible over the sound of his gritted teeth. Jason is presenter of The Gadget Show and a noted technophile, so it's highly likely that he was attracted to the job because he thought Hare would be some kind of cool, futuristic cyborg. How disappointing for him, then, when he turned up at work on his first day to find that his co-star was basically just a giant toy, with animatronics no more advanced than something you might find on sale for two quid at Poundstretcher. With its garish sets, groan-inducing puns and comedy mascot, Don't Scare The Hare seems more like a kids show than a primetime one. But the contestants aren't bright-eyed youngsters; they are po-faced 40-year-olds, rolling around in pyjamas, popping balloons and shedding any dignity they may once have had. There may be a recession on, but just how desperate for money are people these days? Staying on the subject of money, what princely sum do you suppose contestants are rewarded with for their efforts? £15,000. In the world of UK gameshows, fifteen grand is chump change. On Beat The Star, the prize on offer is £50k; on Ant & Dec's Push The Button, it's £100k; on Deal Or No Deal it's a quarter of a million and a hug from Noel Edmonds, although the latter should really be a booby prize. If you haven't seen Don't Scare The Hare, sadly you're already too late. After a mere six episodes, it has been cancelled by the BBC. They've even removed it from iPlayer, pretending it doesn't exist as if it was the drunken uncle at a family party who has a few too many brandies and turns a bit racist. Their embarrassment is understandable. After all, the programme is more like a drug-induced nightmare than a gameshow. What isn't understandable, however, is how the hell they let the thing on air in the first place. Come back Bruce Forsyth - all is forgiven. )

Next article in issue 40

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