Chat With John Robins & Sunil Patel Who Invite You To ‘Beat The Internet’ On Dave This November
Dave has a brand new game show coming to the channel this November, which sees Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning comedian John Robins, along with comedian Sunil Patel, invite you to ‘Beat The Internet’.
Robins serves as host, whilst fellow comedian Sunil Patel acts as “fact master”, in the comedy quiz show where contestants try to finish sentences based on some of the internet’s most popular search terms. Each episode, five contestants predict some of the most common ‘autocompletes’ and attempt to survive to the final round. It’s the only quiz show where humans supply the questions and robots supply the answers, and where you’re only ever one round away from being deleted from the game.
We had a chance for a quick chat with John and Sunil about their new series.
Geektown: So, ‘Beat the Internet’! I’ve seen the opening couple of episodes, which were great fun. Do you want to just explain a little bit about what the show is?
John: Yes, so it’s a quick show which is based on how the internet predicts what we’re going to search for. So it’s a little bit like ‘Family Fortunes’ if the survey were all of mankind.
Geektown: Yeah, I think that sort of describes it. It’s based on those autocomplete things when you type searches into Google. If you typed in are they apples, you might get green apples or red apples or that sort of thing.
John: Correct. Yeah, so if you asked the internet a question, it will also attempt to sort of answer in the autocomplete.
Geektown: There are four rounds. You’ve got the autocomplete game, then there’s one related to image searches, one related guessing searches off single words…
John: Yes, and then there’s the final Powerboard.
Geektown: Yes, which is where you’ve got to guess the answer based on what the results are, or what the person typed in. I noticed on some of the episodes there’s a bit at the end where they show you playing the game. Are you getting any better at it as the series goes on?
John: Yeah, I’m pretty exceptional at that [Powerboard] game and I’m quite competitive and I really like that round. It’s my favourite round, so I want to show off basically but I’m not very good on very modern pop and film references. That’s where I come unstuck.
Geektown: John… you have a Radio X show! Shouldn’t you be really good at running pop stuff?
John: [Laughs] Well, Radio X is more sort of like ’90s and 2000 ending.
Geektown: Okay, fair enough, I guess. So John, you’re the host. Sunil, your job title is “fact master”. What are your contributions to the show?
Sunil: Sure, good question. I read some facts out when they’re not wanted or expected. Often they are not interesting or fun.
John: The funny thing is, his input to the show is almost entirely negative.
Sunil: Spanner in the works, mate. That’s what I do.
John: Actually makes it a real pain.
Geektown: [Laughs] Oh dear… I like that they wouldn’t even give you a computer to find the facts. They give you a Rolodex.
Sunil: Don’t need one, what’s wrong with pen and paper? But, yeah, it’s lovely, yeah. That’s really good fun. Definitely good fun.
Geektown: Do you have any qualifications for being a “fact master”?
Sunil: Well, I’m not sure there’s any professional standards. But I mean I know a lot of “facts” that are quite, well… they’re wrong. I know a lot of wrong stuff. But I can say it quite confidently now, I think. So I think that’s all you need to be to be a fact master these days.
Geektown: What you’re saying is you’d make a great politician, I think.
Sunil: I think so. That’s why I’m thinking of running politics after this, yeah.
Geektown: Have you ever Googled yourself? Either of you? Not that that’s a personal question…
Sunil: I have. I don’t know if I should talk about it. No, I have. It’s mainly dentists, doctors and physicists.
Geektown: Yeah, I notice that with Sunil’s, but if you Google “is John Robins…”, the first one that comes up is, “is John Robins single?”
John: Ooh [Laughs]
Geektown: However, the second one is “Who is John Robins?”… So, yeah…
John: [Laughs] That did come up quite a lot amongst the contestant’s search histories.
Geektown: [Laughs] Yeah! That’s the other thing is you read to the search histories of the contestants that are on the show! I’m assuming they vetted to a certain extent when you get those?
John: Perhaps, I don’t know for sure, but we don’t hack their computers. But it’s quite nice when they tell a little story about the person’s sort of day to day struggles. We had one guy who was essentially searching the same thing again and again, which was a version of “how big a TV should I get for my room?” And I think, I can sympathise with that, when the internet provides so much choice but actually ends up just taking you longer to make a decision.
The one after that is “How tall is John Robins?” So you know…
John: [Laughs] Six foot
Geektown: And “how long is John Robins’ show?” was the last one I got. I don’t know whether that’s a positive or a negative really. I don’t know if that’s people Googling because they’re waiting to find out how long they have to listen to you or whether they just want to know when the end is.
John: It depends what show it is.
Geektown: Well, that is true, yes.
John: I think. It’s from anything from an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.
Geektown: Have there been any sort of favourite answers or autocompletes you’ve had from coming out of the show that maybe stuff that didn’t make it on to air?
John: I wouldn’t be able to comment on what has made it to air. Because I’m actually going to see it tonight for the first time. It’s quite exciting. Quite a lot of people concerned about their dog’s digestion, which I found quite disgusting.
Geektown: What are your general thoughts about the internet? Do you feel that it has helped or hindered us?
John: I think it, like I said, it helps in terms of choice, but I think it hinders in terms of time. Because I’m certainly someone who agonises about checking all the online reviews of everything before I could buy something. Whereas in the past I would have just gone to a shop and bought what they had. It can be a double edged sword. I find social media, you have to have quite an active filter on what you do and do not take on board. Someone said to me that both praise and criticism are of no use too, so best ignore both.
Geektown: Yes, that’s very good advice I think. The show comes on Dave in November. Have you got other stuff that you’re doing as well at the moment?
John: I’m currently on tour with Elis from the Radio X show. We’re promoting our book, ‘The Holy Vible: The Book The Bible Could Have Been’ which is out now. In fact, we’re doing Hammersmith tomorrow and then that all finishes in Ireland in January. Then I’ll be writing a new tour show next year. Probably doing Edinburgh next year.
Geektown: Awesome, and Sunil?
Sunil: Yeah, I’ll be doing Edinburgh next year but won’t be planning anything until next year, but yeah, I’ll be there.
New series, ‘Beat The Internet with John Robins’, airs on Dave from Thursday, 15th November 2018 at 8pm & 8.30pm. The series will air as double bills every Thursday for ten weeks and will also be available on catch-up on UKTV Play.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.