Top Class



Coming soon to CBBC: Top Class with Susan Calman, a show which aims to find Britain’s smartest school and looks excitingly like it has a passing resemblance to top 80s quiz First Class. I hope there are Paperboy and Hypersports rounds! What’s behind the spinning golden disc! Etc!

Anyway I’m only mentioning this here because here’s a promo shot of Calman holding FOUR question cards. Is this cheating or does it make it four times as good?

Anyway right now I’m currently addicted to watching old episodes of High Rollers on Youtube, the US quiz from the 70s and 80s based around dice-game Shut the Box hosted by Alex Trebek then Wink Martindale. I remember watching it on satellite in the late 80s (I can’t remember if it was part of Sky 1’s Panel Pot Pourri strand or Lifestyle with Diddy David Hamilton). The Martindale version would be the show I grew up with and I love everything about it (one of the all time great themes! Glamorous set! What passes for 1980s US quiz show trivia! When one of the prizes was a bonus game! Golden dice because why not!).

The game, by modern standards, actually isn’t all that great – probably a little too much passing the dice in the hope the opponent rolls bad and loses the game rather than gambling to try and take prizes, but right now I also don’t care. Here is a random episode. Have a good rest of Bank Holiday!

Show Discussion: Go For It

goforitSaturday, 7pm,

New talent challenge show fronted by Stephen Mulhern, people with unusual talents are put to the test in challenges devised for television, if they can complete the challenge they win £1,000, if they lose they have to take a Take Me Out-esque Walk of Shame.

We saw an episode being filmed although it’s filmed in such a way they can chop and change to form shows with four items as they see fit. I think their ability to put these shows together will be critical to the show’s success, some challenges a bit dull but some are genuinely incredible although it’s shame that there’s not much effort put into the set-ups (compare and contrast with Epic Win which is probably the closest equivalent, let alone You Bet).

It doesn’t hurt that it’s the lead-in to The X Factor, but these days that is no guarantee of success. Still, I reckon it’s you’re probably likely to enjoy it more than you’re expecting although I say that with the caveat that I don’t yet know how it’s been edited.

Breaking up the Show Discussion fun

There was loads on Monday and on Saturday we’ll have another one for Go For It, so in the meantime here’s something that might have got lost in the shuffle that Chris M Dickson posted about on Monday:

Take a look at a 1985 US pilot for a show called Finders Keepers, which has nothing to do with Finders Keepers (1) or Finders Keepers (2) as we know them. Take your strongest stereotypes of what a mid-eighties US game show might look like, then consider a take like that on the UK Treasure Hunt. It’s deliberately zany; the prizes are notably off-beat, and there’s a human sidekick pretending to be a computer character, because that’s what people did in 1985. (Max Headroom might have popped up in a movie, but was still a couple of years off being a show yet.)

There’s a particularly cute Sale of the Century-like mechanism in there which is by far the most interesting part of the show. The whole thing isn’t horrible, but you can see why it was a pilot that didn’t sell.

This has definitely come up on The Bar before, although it may well have been in an older version of the site. Anyway have a look:


So much going on today, I’m putting this here as a sort of waymarker in case you can’t be bothered to scroll down the page. Banish those Olympic blues, Show Discussion posts a go-go.

  • The new series of Think Tank begins at 3:25pm on BBC1.
  • Debatable with Patrick Kielty starts 6pm on BBC2.
  • That’s followed by Make Me An Egghead at 6:30pm.
  • Not forgetting that University Challenge is back to its normal 8pm start on BBC2 tonight, followed by Only Connect.
  • Today’s biggie we suspect, 500 Questions starts at 9pm on ITV (and continues at 8pm Tuesday-Thursday).
  • And if you missed it, another chance to watch the show that EVERYBODY talked about, albeit disparagingly, Spotless gets a repeat at 10:40pm on ITV.

Exciting stuff. You are advised to direct comments for the appropriate shows to the appropriate places, use this one as a general thread. Enjoy.

Edit: I’ve had it pointed out that as well as all this, Sarah Beeny’s Four Rooms (as it apparently now is) starts at 9pm on More 4.

Edit Edit:  Competitive reality show disguised as social comment Britain’s Hardest Workers where people compete in minimum wage jobs begins tonight at 7pm. This was floated about about 18 months ago and I had assumed it had been quietly dropped. Wrong!

Show Discussion: 500 Questions UK

500_questionsukMonday 9pm,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8pm,

Probably the most intriguing of all the MEGA MONDAY shows, popular ITV1 personality Giles Coren (Vicky’s brother and outspoken restaurant critic) fronts the much anticipated UK version of so-so popular throw-everything-at-a-wall-and-hope-it-sticks US quiz 500 Questions.

500 Questions charges contestants with answering 500 questions correctly without ever getting three wrong in a row. There is a light strategic element in category picking, and an opponent hopes to throw a few spanners in the works to take their place and try and win money for themselves. One of the big criticisms of the US show is that this opponent feels very much like a fifth wheel, there were murmurings that Wall to Wall were going to try and adapt the format to suit the savvier UK audience but we’ll have to see what, if anything, they’ve done. Contestants get to take home cash if they get through at least one round of fifty questions.

Here’s some brief discussion on series one and series two of the US show for background.

If it’s at the same speed as the US show you can probably expect it to get through around 200-230 questions in its four episode run so expect lots of complaints about that. We’re intrigued that the advert paints Coren as quite an abrasive host which would be quite different to how it’s played out in the US. Whilst it’s only really been successful as filler in the US it sounds like in Germany it’s been quite successful. Our episodes have actually been filmed on the German set.

Obviously we’re now looking forward to Giles Coren turning up on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Celebrity Juice in the near future. If Judge Rinder will do them…

Show Discussion: Debatable

debatableWeekdays, 6pm,

It’s fair to say that this Mega Monday has four new shows but there are two shows that are of most interest to us. This is one of them.

Debatable tasks contestants with finding the correct answers to questions for big money but helping or hindering them are a panel of three celebrities who will debate the answers between them. It sounds a bit like a comedy panel version of Think Tank really.

This is the first we’ve seen of Patrick Kielty for a while.