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The engaging Mr O has all the right answers

Richard Osman’s House of Games, BBC2, 6pm Mon-Fri.

​I know, I know, it's not the most challenging task to sit and watch a TV quiz whenever the opportunity presents itself... in this case five times a week, writes Vanessa Chilton.

But if the alternative is housework, clearing out those cupboards, drawers, rearranging your cutlery etc, bring it on!

Especially when it is hosted by the genial Richard Osman, the polar opposite of the traditional brash game show host. He relies on wit and charm rather than flashing lights to grab your attention.

Osman seamlessly shepherds four “celebrities” (who wouldn’t look out of place as Strictly’s reserve squad). They usually include a stand-up comedian or two, a sporting figure and a TV news reader.

It may seem a recipe for a cosy platform of banter and self promotion, but Osman is a master at stirring up a little good- natured competitiveness and his guests take the cue.

Lest anyone should take it too seriously he only has to point them to the prizes, which look like they were bought in a pound shop in the 70s and are monogrammed with his distinctive heavy- rimmed specs profile.

So, to the questions... an eclectic range but favouring those who shine at word puzzles like anagrams and mash-ups. A bit of geography is thrown in and a guess-the-year history question.

Only Connect it’s not (thank goodness) nor Mastermind or University Challenge. Nowhere near as taxing but far more fun, a hybrid of quiz and parlour game really.

It's not always the ones we consider to be the brightest stars that win and subsequently walk away with the illustrious trophy - a dodgy tin cup - at the end of the week.

Osmond plays his part with empathy for the duffers, and is engaging and very witty. Well worth a watch before you settle down to the more mundane chores on offer.

The Thursday Murder Club

*Osman is a man of many parts. For 20 years he has been the creative director of TV company Endemol and is probably best known for his co-host role in the quiz show Pointless.

But he has recently published his first crime novel, The Thursday Murder Club, which has gone straight to the top of the best sellers’ fiction list.

Steve Chilton writes: It is the reading equivalent of putting on a comfy pair of slippers, settling down with a cup of tea and suspending disbelief from the highest point in the ceiling.Out and out escapism but brilliantly readable, owing not a little to Agatha Christie and Miss Marple.

Where it differs is the author is not taking it too seriously and he stirs a lot of comedy into the bloodbath, which centres on an upmarket retirement home in the Kent countryside.

Four residents, each with remarkable backgrounds, headed by what we are led to believe is an erstwhile female James Bond who once worked behind enemy lines, make up the Thursday murder Club and dedicate themselves to solving historic murder cases.

The aged sleuths soon have their hands full with a few fresh ones.Of course they easily outsmart the local Plod and unravel a web woven with dark and shameful secrets.

Quite how Osman brings it home is a tribute to his skill in walking a tightrope laced with humour, saving him, just, from falling into spoofery.

The Thursday Murder Club is Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime, read by Hadyn Gwynne, starting at 10.45pm on January 25 and running for 10 episodes


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