As good as one’s word
Wordsmiths will have their work cut out for them trying to find the meaning in the madness of Denton’s latest offering, writes
EASONED host Andrew Denton has drawn on obscure, out-of-print and some questionable dictionaries as references for his latest TV game show. Randling, which takes its name from Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words, could be described as QI meets Reader’s Digests’ Word Power.
Based on the English language, Randling, is formatted in a way that hopes to enlighten, educate and amuse viewers. Over 27 episodes, 10 handpicked teams of two will fight it out to be the Randling champion.
Created by Denton and Jon Casimir, the men behind the ABC’S Gruen Transfer, the idea for Randling started in 2010, but its current format is vastly different from the initial idea.
‘‘We’ve probably done, before the first episode, about 20 versions of it,’’ says Denton.
Casimir has warned people to not even Google some of the words because they have been plucked from out-of-date books from an era long gone.
Casimir is confident they have done more than enough research for Randling to head off the wordsmiths, but admits there will always be viewers who try and pick faults with questions or answers.
‘‘Just like randling, there are words you are not going to find in the Oxford English Dictionary.
‘‘We are not setting our sights on the Oxford; we are using all kinds of dictionaries,’’ Casimir says.
‘‘There’s one word that evolved from the 1811 dictionary, which was a round-up of every swear word known to man.
Among those making up the teams are comedians Merrick Watts and Annabelcrabb (who form the West Coast Odd Sox), journalist Jennifer Byrne and The Chaser’s Chris Taylor (The Argopelters), actors Rob Carlton and Robyn Butler (Roget’s Ramjets) and Rockwiz host Julia Zemiro and writer Michael Williams (Southern Furies).
Denton says about 100 contestants tried out for the show, and although having a good grasp of the English language helped, it was not essential.
‘‘We auditioned comedians, journalists, poets and businessmen and all sorts of people,’’ Denton says. ‘‘We wanted each team to have character. ‘‘Some are white collar, some are blue collar, some are very theatrical and some are more journalistic.’’ Two teams play-off each episode and points won on the night accumulate through the series with the best sides competing in semi finals and then a grand final. ‘‘For the last 10 years, most of the game shows on television have been hit and giggle, which is quite delightful to watch, but the points didn’t matter from week to week,’ Casimir says.
‘‘They didn’t matter on Good News Week, Thank God You’re Here and Spicks and Specks, so we thought when we came up with Randling it would be fun to go in the opposite direction and every single point counts for the whole season.’’
Wednesdays, 8.30pm, ABC1 host Andrew Denton.