19 August 2003 | idiosyncratic_anomaly
A downward spiral from cult-viewing to family fare.
As a format, it was the show renowned for asking celebrities the questions their publicists most feared.
Initially a staple of Channel 4's early-evening schedule, the programme saw host, Terry Christian, do his finest impression of a northern f*ckwit alongside the hapless daddy's-girl-turned-television-presenter Amanda De Cadanet.
On realising the show's potential to build a large, post-pub audience, the show was swiftly moved to a late-night slot more suited to its risque material, where it quickly became entrenched as cult viewing. Best segments were 'The Mission' - a recorded insert famed for humiliating established Hollywood stars with footage of their early porn flicks - and 'The Hopefuls', which encouraged an assortment of nitwits to perform tastless stunts like vomit-drinking. Other memorable moments included a "freak circus" which witnessed one performer lift an iron with his genitals, not to mention the decision to ply p*sshead actor Oliver Reed with alcohol and secretly film the results backstage.
When z-list television personality, Paul Ross, took harness as programme editor, however, the show encountered a downward spiral from risque viewing of questionable taste to family fare. The guestlist increasingly resembled that of the mild talkshow, Wogan, with some personalities appearing in both studios on the same evening. By this time, an early-evening magazine spin-off from the programme - Access All Areas - was in place which, one suspects to be the key driver of the watered-down content. The spin-off show would often feature repeat footage aired in the late-night show which had to be "pre-watershed" compliant. The decision to supplant Christian as host with Mark Lamarr also backfired badly, since the Watford-born comic was something of a polished performer and therefore out-of-keeping with the show.
In the mid-1990s, the show was unceremoniously dumped from the schedules with programme chiefs citing record viewer complaints as the [improbable] cause.
And now for a final "The Word" commercial break teaser:
What have ex-Word presenters Terry Christian, Katie Puckrik and Hufty got in common?
The answer is they have all faded into relative or total obscurity since the show's demise.