"Would I Lie to You?" is a popular British TV show in which two teams of three celebrities take it in turns to present a "fact" about themselves. The facts may be rather silly (e.g. I count to a thousand every night before I go to sleep.) or rather stupid (e.g. I once reversed my car into a wall during a driving lesson.) or rather funny (e.g. I once ate cat food by mistake.) The other players have to guess which of the facts are true and which are made up. Click here to read about the show and take the quiz to see if you can tell the difference between true facts and unlikely stories. It's not as easy as you may think.
Would I Lie to You?
I've just discovered a BBC TV show called Would I Lie to You? Despite the rather odd title, it's actually a delightful, enjoyable show. There are two teams of three, including team captains. Together they present a wonderful collection of unbelievable truths and very believable lies. Each team does its best to hoodwink the other team into believing that what is fake is true, and that what is true is not. For each episode, the resident team captainsare joined by four celebrity guests. The two teams compete head-to-head with each player revealing hard to believe facts and embarrassing personal tales for the consideration of the opposing team. It sounds very simple, doesn't it? Some of the stories are true, some are not, and it's the panelists' task to separate the facts from the fabrications. I settled back convinced that I would hear some very tall tales and that I would immediately know who was lying. I was a surprised to find that all the stories were equally daft and equally believable - and that I had no idea what was true and what wasn't. The charm of the program is that the other panelists have absolutely no idea either (and I think that includes the members on the same team!). Let me give you an example of some of the things that have come up in the program. Read through the following list and see if you can guess which 'stories' are true and which are made up.
1. One team captain claimed he had fainted while watching a rather violent and bloody scene in Tarantino's movie, Kill Bill. He woke up in the lap of the person sitting next to him.
2. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, a minor celebrity often in the gossip magazines, told the show how she had once swallowed a very expensive diamond.
3. Len Goodman, a judge on a TV dancing show, recounted a sad story of a visit to his local golf course. Driving off from the 9th tee, he was horrified when his ball struck a passing eagle - killing it immediately.
4. One team member explained that at university she had belonged to a student political group. In fact, she'd become so passionate about politics that she put a poster of the prime minister on her wall.
5. David Baddiel, a well-known comedian and witty contributor to late-night talk shows was happy to tell the audience that he had passionately kissed two singers of the all-girl pop group, the Spice Girls - on different occasions. Possible, you might think, but David is known for his wit - not his good looks.
6. John Barrowman, a TV actor, claims that while visiting Prince Charles, he couldn't find a bathroom anywhere in the Prince's very large house. He became so desperate that he slipped out of a side door and urinated in the garden.
7. Eamonn Holmes, a TV presenter, maintained that he owned seven cats - each one named after a day of the week.
8. Lee Mack, one of the team captains, struggled to convince everyone that the first letters of his ex-girlfriend's names spell out the word "Bermuda".
9. There's a sad story from Richard Bacon, a popular radio DJ, of his time working at McDonald's. He spotted his girlfriend joining the line in front of his till. When she reached the counter, he flashed her a big smile, whereupon she informed him that she was breaking up with him.
10. Des O'Connor, a charming singer with his own TV show, popped in for a visit and told a story of eating cans of cat food when he was a young man working in Greece. It was only when a cleaner visited his apartment that his mistake was explained to him.
Answers: 1. F, 2. T, 3. T, 4. F, 5. T, 6. T, 7. F, 8. F, 9. T, 10. F
How did you score? As you now understand, it's surprisingly difficult to spot the difference between "must be true" and "no way." The success of "Would I Lie to You?" is certainly not due to the teams' abilities to spot the truth - in fact they usually don't do very well. It's more to do with being able to talk funny, convincing nonsense and making the audience laugh. They must be doing something right because the show is now in its fourth year.
It struck me that it might be possible to adapt some of the ideas from "Would I Lie to You?" and use them in the classroom. Let me outline the four different rounds in the half hour show, and see if you think they could be adapted for classrooms in Japan:
1. Home Truths: The panelists read out a statement about themselves - it's often a bit embarrassing. The opposing team must then decide whether the statement is true or false. For example, David, one of the captains, confessed that his first word as a young toddler was 'hoover' - the British word for a vacuum cleaner. And yes - it's true.
2. Ring of Truth: A 'fact' about a celebrity is read out. Both teams must decide whether it's true or false. For example, the teams once had to decide whether Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress, did in fact say that she would rather die than let her child eat instant soup made from a package. (And yes, she did once say it!)
3. This is My...: A mystery guest is brought into the studio and the members of one team take turns to explain their relationship with him or her (e.g.: "This is Bob. He's my hairdresser. I've known him for years..."). However, only one of them actually knows the mystery guest. The guest is not allowed to talk, but the opposing team can question the other team.
4. Quick-Fire Round: This round is similar to the first, but it's conducted against the clock. Often the panelist is given a prop. (e.g. One panelist had to pretend that a stuffed monkey belonged to him.)
I could imagine asking students to write down ten 'facts' about themselves - some true and some false -- and then playing a version of the "Quick-Fire Round" in the classroom. For example, students take it in turns to talk for two minutes -- saying as many of the facts as they can. Other students then have two minutes to ask as many questions as they can. Finally, everyone guesses which of the facts was made up and which was actually true.