Watching Telly: The Edge

OK, just got back from Elstree. The show started about an hour late because of a previous show apparently, although it was all done and dusted in about two hours tonight. There were only about twenty of us in the audience.

  • The set is dominated by four large bowling tracks front of set, a large stage with four podium buzzers back left, the big The Edge sign behind the contestant’s stage, host’s question screen back right of set. At the end of the bowling lanes is a large screen.
  • Mark Benton’s our rather jolly host and he was good fun, although technically a bit all over the place, lots of restarting questions in mid flow. Bit surprised because of his acting pedigree, although it was also the third of evidently a long filming day, so make of that what you will.
  • Four contestants answer questions to gain advantage in taking on… the edge. In each round the player who scores the lowest is eliminated.
  • In round one contestants must get four questions correct on the buzzer to raise a ball from the bottom of their podium to the top. Get a question wrong and they are frozen out of the next question, they are not reoffered. Once someone has got four questions correct they can choose which of the four lanes they want to bowl from. The other contestant’s podiums are then reset and they race back to four again, the next person choosing from one of the remaining lanes, and repeat once more until the loser gets no choice. All the questions in round one are single bits of general knowledge (Name the X that did Y and Z). “The best brains get the best lanes!” It’s time to go to the lanes.
  • Why is choice of lane important? Because they are each different lengths. The shortest one about 10ft, the longest one about 25ft (I’m having to guess a little bit on these distances, sorry). Each lane is split into cash zones starting at £1 (from where they stand up to the money proper) then £10, then £50, then all the increments of £50 up to £950 and finally there’s the striped Edge worth £1,000 in round one. It *looks* like The Edge is about two-three inches and the other cash zones about four inches. The lanes have guard rails so the balls can’t go off the side, but they can of course go off… the edge.
  • In round one each person gets one ball to bowl. Simply put, whoever scores the lowest is eliminated with nothing. I don’t know what happens if there’s a tie. The players have apparently been allowed to practice before the show so have an idea of the power required. The balls look about 4 inches in diameter. The order is shortest lane to longest, so there is some strategy in not going for the shortest lane as it gives you a target to aim for going later.
  • There’s quite a neat Peggle-esque rising pitch noise as the ball moves through the cash zones.
  • The three surviving players have the money earned put into their individual banks which the winner will play for in the final. It felt like a lot of quiz effort for not much payoff here, to be honest.
  • In round two four more questions need to be answered but this time all the questions require two answers (name the TWO Xs that did Y and Z).
  • For round two, the shortest lane is closed off. Whatsmore whilst the first player to qualify gets a penalty free lane, the second player gets a Danger Zone and the third one TWO Danger Zones. Woooh. To determine the danger zones, the players push a button on the stand where the balls stand whilst the lights flash along the floor. The values of what’s stopped on are immediately changed to £1. Don’t like this idea, it’s unnecessary added faff to a game that’s already quite difficult (if tonight’s recording is anything to go by) – this is a game of accumulation and anything that makes that harder should be avoided as it frustrates the viewer and sometimes (like tonight) punishes heroism needlessly – it’s not like Tipping Point where a miss means it might be even more exciting next time. It’s not like anybody’s aiming to hit or miss spots deliberately.
  • Each player gets TWO balls and the cumulative total counts. The lowest score is eliminated. Note that previously banked cash doesn’t count here. The Edge is worth £2,000 in this round.
  • Round three. The two shortest lanes blocked off and a race to four answers again. This time all the questions require three answers.
  • The winner here gets to pick lane and also gets to set one Danger Zone for their opponent which they can move between bowls (again don’t really like this it’s Looks Strategic But Isn’t Really). The winner also has to go first each time. The Edge is worth £3,000 (you can’t place the DZ on The Edge). Both players get three balls, highest total for the round wins, loser goes home.
  • The Final. The winner faces 75 seconds of questions, each one requiring four answers. Unlike the previous rounds which seemed to have three very definite answers for each question, here it looks like some of them are a bit more open ended, in point of fact it looks like they’re dealing with the missed questions in post-production.
  • Each correctly answered question increases the size of the edge – it looks like two cash zones for each fully answered question. However they do have to play from the longest lane.
  • The contestant has a choice – if they think they can get the ball to land on the endge in one shot they can go all or nothing. If they want insurance they can opt for two balls for half of the pot, or three balls for one third of the pot (all money rounded up to the next pound). The game is winnable, but by the sounds of it nobody’s actually won yet.
  • For me it never really felt like the show gelled. There’s plenty of questions (probably in point of fact because of the amount of passes) and the bowling element is fairly good fun, but really it requires to be played to a certain decent standard to be properly entertaining, there were a couple of good balls and near misses (including a shot about an inch from the edge which was only worth a pound because of the random Danger Zoning) but many were only worth a pound or went off the end. Handy if you’re playing, not so much fun to watch.

As ever there’s a caveat that we don’t know how it’s going to edit and as a sample this is a random episode and others may or may not be better, but our gut wasn’t going gaga over the possibilities the show creates. This being said, we didn’t think The Link was very good either but it was still doing a million, so.

The Trail of Xapatan

So you might remember a little while ago we did a feature on one of Jacques Antoine’s less popular shows La Piste de Xapatan where a group of guys goes round the Mexican jungle doing tasks and avoiding Mexicans whilst a female contestant searches for statues in a cave.

Well someone’s stuck a few episodes up on Youtube.


I’m still of the belief that this is quite a dull show with some quite nice picturesque elements. The final five minutes is two people climbing lots of stairs, although the zipline is quite good.

There’s a Pointless quiz book coming out

And it’s got 100 questions in it and it’s… hang on it’s £15? Blimey. You might as well buy the board game. Anyway it’s out October 9th if you’re that way inclined.

The Singer Takes It All App

You can prepare yourself for the upcoming C4 show The Singer Takes It All by downloading the official app right now. On iOS at least, Android to follow (before the show launches, presumably).


This already looks about ten times more fun than Rising Star, which this basically is the perpendicular version of. Like we have said, I hope the technology can cope because it’ll be quite embarrassing if it goes wrong.

In other news it’s the last in the series of Tom Scott’s First Person Quiz LIVE on Youtube from 4pm. Keep an eye out on his Youtube channel to get the link.

ALSO It’s Schlag den Star tomorrow on ProSieben, celeb vs celeb for the first time with Raab hosting, the first of four, I don’t know if there’s going to be a commentary because I’m busy tomorrow and the next few Saturdays but if something’s happening I’ll try to put it up.

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Name That Tune

This filmed on Wednesday night at ITV Towers on the South Bank. It was a very hot studio on a hot day so I should point out that I where I sound grouchy it might work out alright in the edit.

  • Set featured a set of stairs on the left (bannister had cello motif), house band on the right, middle dominated by large circular screen top of set, host’s keyboard and podium underneath, two team podiums either side. Where there is a one on one face off round, Bill’s podium is moved back a bit and two large buzzer stands looking like LPs are placed in front.
  • And our host for the evening is Bill Bailey. As we’ve said before, not an especially ITV choice but we can at least see what he brings to the role – good comedy improvisor and of course he can play instruments (there’s an electric guitar to hand and a keyboard in his podium). We note that Mark Lamarr was behind the scenes, I don’t know if he’s a writer for the show. Edit: Just hanging around, not involved.
  • Off camera is someone doing a David Bowie impersonation, he’s in charge of the scorekeeping and does some banter with Bill. It sounds like a different person out of the rock ether would take this role each week. I couldn’t work out who this was, sorry. Phil Cornwell would be my best guess. I’m afraid I thought the banter was a bit flat and became frequently irritating.
  • The house band is The Mike Dixon Sextet. They are very good and there are six of them.
  • Two teams of three will compete, in the pilot a team from Dundee (Team Dundee) vs a team from Mansfield (Team Mansfield).
  • A few things to note quickly, we’re not privy to the show’s title sequence but a song randomly played in the run up to recording (which went something like “We know you like music/we know you like games/it’s time to win money/for knowing their names/so name that tune“) that sounded a little bit like McFly. Edit: It’s USA Band The Tearaways, and you can buy it on iTunes, so whether this is the theme or not I don’t know.
  • The intro felt interminable. Bailey comes down the stairs, he noodles on the keyboards, he has a chat and a couple of tunes with Mike Dixon, he has a lengthy chat with David Bowie, then he has a chat with the teams, and that’s all we’ve got time for this week.
  • The first round is the Wheels of Steel, which used to be called Melody Roulette back in the day. A members of each team will face off and do two songs each, the value of the song is determined by what comes up on the Wheels of Steel, two circular wheels (really nicely rendered actually) on the big circular screen. The inner wheel has values ranging from £50 to £500, the outer wheel has eight segments – four blank, one that says TRIPLE, two DOUBLES and a HALF. The contestant whose go it is presses their buzzer to slow down the wheels, wherever it stops is the value of the tune. All team members get a go. We’re not encouraged to go oooooOOOOH DOUBLE, but general oohs and aahs when things go badly or well.
  • Round two is Bill’s Screen Classics – Bill plays a theme from a film on his keyboard, teams can confer and buzz in when they know the film. Bill throws in some good take home facts (the theme from Born Free is Star Wars in reverse – didn’t know that). £100 for each one, played six times.
  • Bill throws to the break with a “musical challenge for you at home” – he plays one note from a song (which could come from anywhere in the song) and you have to guess what it is. Reasonable enough gag.
  • Round three is Re-tuned. The London Vegetable Orchestra (they’re an orchestra who have made instruments out of vegetables – clever actually) play five tunes and the teams write down what they think they are whilst Bailey messes about with a vegetable cart in the middle. £200 for each correct guess. I expect the idea is different spins on homemade instruments will feature each week.
  • Round four is Bill’s Bonus Round – the suggestion here is that it will different each week, this week called Riffs and Hooks. Bill will play a famous hook or riff from a track (the band will also join in) and the first team to buzz and name the song it comes from wins £300, and the team that gets the most right in the round (five songs IIRC) wins something from Bill’s home studio, in this case a massive six-armed guitar.
  • Round five is Bid-A-Note and winning it wins a game winning £2,000 (this is of course a bit cheap and golden snitchy, but then the Golden Medley was the only round that determined who went for the big prize in the ITV original so…). Team members take it in turns to go up to the podium and play and the first team to three points wins. This works exactly the same as it used to, a cryptic clue is given and then they start bidding down from seven. Unfortunately like the original some of the clues are far too easy (“This song from a German sounding band will leave you breathless” – I mean come on, why not just say “It’s Take My Breath Away by Berlin”).
  • I believe the losing team still get to take their winnings away with them.
  • The finalists go forward to the Prize Tune Round, which is basically the Golden Medley – they must nominate one person. They have 60 seconds to correctly identify seven songs played by the band, after about 8 seconds the song is thrown out if it’s not been buzzed for. Incorrect buzzes are not penalized, but you only get one chance at each song so you will have wasted time. Every correct answer earns £500, but if they get seven then the seventh one is worth some One Direction bobblehead dolls. And a new car.
  • Few of the songs played were very modern – Wrecking Ball felt like a stand out in a sea of 60s-90s and show and classical tunes.
  • Like I say in the hot studio it felt like a long three hours but reading the format back it’s actually really quite similar to the original albeit stretched to an hour. The padding was getting on my nerves, but I did feel the show flowed better towards the end. Like I say, the edit will kill or cure this one I think.

I’ll probably remember some more stuff overnight, but in the meantime if you have questions I will endeavour to answer them.

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: You Against the Nation

We cross live now to our correspondent Daniel from Tellyspy for this report:

In short, it is a show where the app playing public actually have influence over the results of the on-screen contestants.

At the recording, there was the main studio audience in HQ1 at Media City, and about 600 people spread across HQ3 and the mezzanine. The latter two, of which I was included, were watching the show on ‘cinema like’ screens, acting the part of the ‘nation’, playing along on the iOS app. Basically, that’ll be the public if the show gets a run. It is to be noted that the play along warm up, Andy Collins, said some of the HQ1 lot had keypads so that if the app failed, the quiz could still go along as per the independent adjudicators rules. Anyway, there was a lot of faf with WIFI (imagine 600 iPads trying to connect to the same network), but eventually most seemed to be online and working- even if it was after the test run. For note, the main warm up guy in HQ1 (who actually did most of HQ3/mezzanine warmup via the screen, Collins just ate Crunchies and threw Maoams), was Stuart Holdham (?), the Dale Winton lookalike. He seemed brilliant.

Onto the main show and the hosts were Alex Jones of ‘The One Show‘ and the upcoming ‘Tumble‘ and comedian Frank Skinner, with the five contestants being #EssexLAD and mummy’s boy Richie; Welsh opera singer Gary; Scottish duck herder Mark (he wore a kilt); Sophia, who had the world record for longest kiss and is a keen kickboxer and Northern Irish Pam, who lost five stone through hula hooping alone.

The show opened with a cheesy VT from Skinner and Jones, and after some cringeworthy and totally ‘unscripted’ scripted ‘banter’, there was info on how to play along, even though it had been drilled into our heads before- DO NOT TURN OFF THE APP, DO NOT DRAIN YOUR BATTERY LIFE (I did, what else was I expected to do in the arduous and ludicrous two and a half hour wait?)

Before the show began, the five were asked a survey question, ‘what percentage of households have a dog’. As Richie answered the closest (I think it was about 23%), his VT was played and he stepped up to the hot seat. Here, Skinner introduced the five categories on offer to him- Food and Drink, UK Landmarks, The Royal Family, Pop Music and Sports Stars. He went for Pop Music and chose to face Mark (the person in the hot seat choses category and opponent) so Mark’s VT was played and after more classic bantz, Jones went through the five questions and four answers for each, but not before saying ‘press start now’ to the ‘viewers at home’. (This was a major flaw, as unlike the Million Pound Drop app, the questions are not wholly synced, instead you must press at the right time or the timer won’t match that on the screen. This was a nightmare because sometimes your timer had run out before the song had played on the show, during a name that tune style question, for example). So after the questions were read, they went through them again, one by one and each gave the answer they locked in. For each correct answer, they got £1,000, but if they had beat the nation too (less than 50% of app players got it right), they would get an extra £1,000. As Richie won this round, he stayed in the hoteseat and Mark went to the losers’ lounge (a sofa opposite adjacent to the main set bit). Richie then picked Gary and played The Royal Family. Gary won so moved to the hotseat and picked Sophia and UK landmarks, he won again and was left with Pat and picked Sports Stars. He defeated Pat, also, meaning he was in the final round. (As a side note, before each round, the app players were asked a survey question, such as do you prefer Prince Harry or Prince William; do you prefer rock or pop music etc, and that was used for statistics- ‘Prince Harry fans were better at that round’.) After each round, the winners’ money was added to the prize fund.

So, in the final round all Gary had to do was Beat The Nation. He would be given five questions, one from each of the five categories presented earlier. For everyone he got right, he got a point. For every one that more of 50% of app users got right, the nation got a point. If he beat the nation, his £22,000 accumulated would be doubled to £44,000; if he drew with the nation, his £22,000 would stay the same, and if the nation won, his £22,000 would be halved to £11,000 (the main flaw in the game, it should have been nothing for a non-win, in my opinion). Anyway, the questions were played as normal but after, the hosts told Gary that for one of his questions, during the answers, he could ask the ‘losers lounge’ for their opinion- at this point he has the choice to stick with his answer or go with the losers. It was the final question and whether he took away £44k or £22k relied on them, really, as he was unsure. He changed his answer and went with the losers, but it was wrong (his first choice right) and so he drew with the nation, winning £22k. But, if the losers would have been right, they would have got £1k each too, as ‘compensation’.

With the app side of it, other than the issue above, and a few teething problems displaying images and round names, it was alright. The Facebook and Twitter integration was already setup, and there was a clear leaderboard by round and by game (your money is also doubled if you beat the nation etc).

Overall, it was decent. People walked out though (of the screening room). But this was because of the lengthy waiting around, I think. Maybe not the best choices for hosts, either but they certainly weren’t horrendous.

So there we are.