G&TV: Big Break In Wonderland (27/12/1994) Quickies Posted by Ian Symes on 24th December 2021, 14:58 It’s that special time of year again, and what could be more Christmassy than a snooker themed game show hosted by a racist? Yes, it’s Big Break, a cracking Saturday night format with a banger of a theme tune (written by Mike Batt and performed by Captain Sensible), memorable catchphrases and engaging gameplay, but unfortunately difficult to enjoy these days if you’re not a young 1990s child, blissfully ignorant of the many, many flaws of its presenter. Luckily, the 1994 celebrity special has a little something extra to hold the modern day Red Dwarf fan’s interest – Craig “Cinzano Bianco” Charles. Annoyingly, the YouTube video has embedding disabled, but you can click on this attractive picture of Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedletwat: That, incidentally, is the closest Jim Davidson has ever stood to a Black person. The main comedy value in the episode, unsurprisingly, comes from the attempts to play snooker in amusing oversized costumes, and the Alice in Wonderland theme epitomises the inherent weirdness that permeates so much 1990s light entertainment in retrospect. It’s full of jokes that fall completely flat, incongruous set pieces and, somewhat unfortunately, repeated uses of a Rolf Harris song. But damn it, I stand by the assertion that this was a top notch game show format, and I’ve always enjoyed John Virgo’s deadpan style and shameless cheating. Plus, John Parrott’s cat costume was later worn by Mark Heap; it was evidently available to any BBC shows titled Big XXXXX. One further oddity to note: at one point, Craig plugs his forthcoming book The Craig Charles Almanac of Total Knowledge 2. Now, the original masterpiece was released a year earlier in 1993, so this must have been a planned sequel which didn’t materialise – its spiritual successor, The Log, was eventually published in 1997. Plus, it’s confusing to note that this special aired in December 1994, after Craig had been arrested and remanded in July 1994, but before he was acquitted of all charges in March 1995. It seems inconceivable that a major broadcaster would put out a prime time programme featuring someone in that situation nowadays, but I guess 27 years ago was somehow a very different time. On a more festive note, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our listeners slash readers a very Merry Christmas. We’ll be back with our customary review of the last twelve months on New Years Eve.