June 2001

Donna Air shook hands with Mr Shakeyhands Man on Banzai during the first episode of the first series, according to the Channel 4 website.

If you want to play along with the bet, watch the video first – the results are revealed below…

Banzai first screened on E4 in the summer of 2001 and brought a whole new kind of potentially racist interactive television to the UK’s screens. Some viewers were outraged by the stereotypical broken English and over-emphasised Japanese accents used. Others were simply shocked by some of the bets which took place – which included challenges such as guessing how much Nancy Lam’s left breast might weigh.

However, the show was popular with the in-from-the-pub crowd and, in my opinion, was actually incredibly entertaining if you could manage not to be offended by it. Possibly one of the least offensive elements was Mr Shakeyhands Man – at least, that’s what Channel 4 call him. We’d personally go with Mr Shakey Hands Man, whereas in the show, if you listen carefully, they actually seem to just say Mr Shake Hands Man. Whichever you prefer, the character – played in series one by Ryozo Kohira – had one trick, which was to shake hands with a celebrity for as long as possible.

This usually meant conducting an interview without letting go of the person in question, until they finally broke free. Viewers were invited to bet on how long Mr Shakey Hands Man could last – usually around the 30-second mark.

In Donna’s case, a landmark was set. We’re not actually certain which episode she featured in, although Channel 4 lists her in its credits for series one, episode one. If so, she set a record that was to remain unbeaten throughout the remaining series of Banzai – however, it seems unlikely, as the clip mentions Louise Nurding (later to become Louise Redknapp) as having already appeared in the segment.

Donna Air’s bet begins with viewers asked to guess whether she will shake hands for less than a minute, more than a minute, or exactly one minute, after which the clock starts ticking. In her defence, it is fairly noisy and she has to ask Mr Shakey Hands Man to repeat himself on some questions – adding to the length of time taken.

However, as the clock ticks beyond a minute, Banzai cuts away – leaving Donna in a box at the corner of the screen to prove she is still shaking hands – and instead turns to a bet relating to a “talking Turkey man”. Another step on to dubious racial territory, this bet features a Turkish kebab shop owner speaking Turkish. Viewers must guess whether he is being nice or nasty.

Once the bet is over, Donna returns to the full screen – and is still shaking hands. A new bet is proposed, to see whether Mr Shakey Hands Man can last beyond four and a half minutes, or 270 seconds. Eventually the handshake is broken, with the clock stopping at an epic 272.07 seconds.


OK, there’s not that much trivia to be had, but here goes…

The “talking Turkey man” bet relates to the phrase “talk Turkey”, which means straight-talking, no funny business, just the hard facts and no flimflammery. Which is particularly appropriate given the nature of the talking Turkey man bet itself.

The event at which this epic meeting took place was a fundraiser for the Macmillan Christmas Stocking Appeal. Boyzone’s Keith Duffy would later tell the Sunday Mirror of how he and Donna Air had posed for photographs a little while before her encounter with the might and majesty that is… Banzai’s Mr Shakey Hands Man (we salute you sir).

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