Posts belonging to Category Watching Telly



Watching Telly: DOND On Tour

allypally

Alexandra Palace

Well we all know what Deal Or No Deal is so I won’t furnish you with those details. You’re probably aware that the show has been axed but it’s being allowed a two-week farewell tour series to cap the show off.

Now in the show’s 11-year history I never got to the Dream Factory to see an episode being filmed live, so when I heard last week that they were filming an episode in London at Alexandra Palace I leapt at the chance. In a joke on Facebook I compared going to see it at this late stage the TV equivalent of going to see Hear’Say after one of them had left but I’m really glad I went. The whole thing feels like the sort of thing they should have done years ago, especially as the live ones did so well.

  • It sounds like the idea behind this is that the game is so simple you can take the game anywhere, and so far I gather that they’ve filmed an episode in a biodome at The Eden Project, the Trafford Centre, on board The Flying Scotsman and coming soon in an apparent television first (except a gameshow in mid-air has actually been done before) during a flight on a Boeing 747.
  • As such the sets are rather more minimalist – each box opener gets a perspex plinth to rest their box on. The board is hysterically low tech – the cash amounts are written on paddles which a member of the audience collared into doing it spins round to remove them, looking not unlike a sort of jackpot game you used to get on quiz TV channels. Atop that is a large-ish monitor for close ups of the contestant’s photos and the like, it would have been nice if it showed the boxes being opened but never mind.
  • The contestants on this tour are people who were waiting on the wings the last time the show was filmed 18 months ago. They bring along friends and family to open the boxes, a few of the boxes are given over to people who work at the place Deal has decended upon.
  • The game is Classic DOND – no button, no Box 23. We always thought Box 23 was rubbish anyway. The show is all about finding a contestant’s pain point and watching them agonising over a decision (this was a great game today incidentally, gripping stuff), Box 23 rarely provided this.
  • The audience were in the round. There were about 400 people packed in the Palm Court.
  • Today’s recording was about three hours and for most of us we were standing throughout. They did put a limited number of seats in for the older folk (of which there were many), I did wonder if we were going to have a Pensioner Rebellion when the audience guy announced it was going to be a standing show (they probably should have made this clearer on the application). There wasn’t much stopping once they started. I have newfound respect for contestants who were filming three or four episodes a day back in the day, that’s a lot of time on your feet!
  • Mark Olver’s a really good warm-up. To be honest it’s quite nice going to see a warm-up and not know exactly what jokes are about to come out.
  • Props to the sound guy who spent the first twenty minutes of the recording panicking behind me when he couldn’t get some clip mics on the pre-selected board turners working properly only for Noel to go and choose somebody completely different and already stood near the board anyway. Who probably hadn’t yet signed a release form.
  • Noel’s brilliant. Regardless of some of his nuttier opinions in real life, there really are few people who can sell a show like this, who can build up the drama and just react and go along with wherever the game happens to go. I’d be fascinated to know how much is pre-prepared, the contestant today picked her brother who suggested he could do a better job than Noel. So Noel lets him do it for about five minutes whilst coaching him, but after the break makes him wear a Noel-esque wig that just happened to be in his suit. I want to believe someone on the production was quick thinking enough to arrange that during a break.
  • Anyway I think the show’s definitely going out with a bang. Doing the show in unusual never-been-done-before places is such a Noel Edmonds way of going about it, as such the campaign for the titles for these shows to be a shot for shot recreation of The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow begins here:

Watching Telly: Go For it

goforitIt’s been a while since I last did one of these. This sounds like the plan is for it to be leading into The X Factor, and it sounds like they’re recording more in November which I’d guess is for leading into The Voice next year.

No results will be spoiled, but as the tasks are disparately filmed so they can fit episodes together I’ll reveal the tasks today as a representative sample.  As usual the caveat I can only comment on what’s in front of me, they may improve/make worse in the edit.

  • This is based on Challenge Me! by Talpa. I think I prefer that title, in honesty.
  • This was filmed in Studio 1 at The London Studios. The air con on this hot day was appreciated. I had heard they were struggling to fill seats and were resorting to a cash prize raffle to entice people in, it also sounds like some of the audience were from casting agencies. No matter, this afternoon was a full house.
  • The theme tune is of course electroclash.
  • The host is Stephen Mulhern. He was very good. It probably won’t change whether you like him or not though. There seemed to be lots of Ste-fans in the audience.
  • If you can imagine the QI set but rotate it 30 degrees anti-clockwise without the desk, the giant Q forms a tunnel Stephen Mulhern and challengers walk down, the right of the set is dedicated to a large-ish rotating stage. Half of it has a wall which rotates round to hide the challenge, there is a video screen on it. There’s also a large video screen on the back of the stage. The main colours are chrome and red, although the lights turn blue on occasion.
  • Show opens with some slapstick You’ve Been Framed-esque clips from the internet of things going physically wrong.
  • People with unusual talents and skills are invited on to perform a challenge to demonstrate said talent. If they complete the challenge they win £1,000 (wooh). If they fail they have to take the “walk of shame” up the audience to an ironically chosen tune (for example: man fails at eating glass, they’ll play something like Heart of Glass by Blondie), a bit like when someone blacks out on Take Me Out.
  • Each challenger is introduced with a VT package on their situation and hinting at their talent. They come out and have a chat with Stephen amongst much the same lines, teasing what their talent is before revealing it in a style not unlike when they chat to Matthew Kelly on Stars In Their Eyes.
  • Each challenge has a sort-of gag title and then Stephen reveals what they’ve got to do. And then the stage revolves to reveal the set up.
  • The set-ups are frankly not very exciting. Some speakers. A table. Occasionally just the screen on its own.
  • First challenge tonight, a DJ is tasked with recognising any top 10 song from the 80s and 90s from the intro played backwards.
  • Second challenge, a nervous young PC technician attempts to solve Rubik’s Cubes that have been legitimately mixed by members of the audience. He must do one blindfolded, one one handed, one with his feet and the last two as normal within three minutes. I don’t think I drew breath at all within that three minutes, I watched with stunned open mouth throughout it was that good and tense. Honestly.
  • Third challenge, someone who has just finished his A-Levels attempts to do six speed-stack cycles within 60 seconds, each cycle consisting of three layouts. This was decently explained with slo-mo beforehand.
  • Fourth challenge saw a competitive eater down eight pints of unpleasant liquids (gravy, milk, baked bean juice, baby food etc). He has four minutes to down the lot, if he throws up he gives up.
  • The turnaround for each challenge was reasonable, but there were a lot of extra links and pick-ups filmed. And some promos at the end!
  • And that should have been it, except we got a sort of bonus. On a recording yesterday there was a challenge where a Tube enthusiast had to give the shortest route between two given stations, ten or more correct in 90 seconds won. But evidently there was an issue because he had to come back today to find out if he won or not. I find it inconceivable that they didn’t have answers yesterday – did he come up with better ones? And it has been pointed out that “shortest route” is a somewhat ambiguous term with regards to the underground, they went for fewest changes in today’s reckoning. Besides which, to be rewarded after a three-and-a-half hour recording with ten minutes of Stephen Mulhern basically listing tube routes for ten minutes was a bit of a kick in the teeth, God knows how they’re going to make that look entertaining in the edit, I wanted to pull my eyes out. That’s no disrespect to the challenger who seems to be a better and faster option than tfl.gov.uk.
  • So we have an intriguing prospect – the challenges don’t have You Bet‘s scale and they don’t have Epic Win‘s inventiveness in the main (how sad it is that a prime time show doesn’t have Epic Win‘s ambition or indeed prize budget and that was five years ago and considered a bit cheap then). The show is played with much more of a straight bat which may work better with an ITV audience.
  • But of the challenges seen today only one ended up being properly gripping, the rest ranging from OK to frankly boring. They’ve recorded a lot of them so I don’t doubt there are others that are similarly gripping, deciding which ones go in which episode is going to be a bit of a headscratcher I suspect and getting the balance right is going to be absolutely vital.

Watching Telly: Prized Apart

PrizedApart3So I’ve just got back from watching this in Farnborough (note to potential audience members – this is very pedestrian unfriendly albeit not impossible, I advise you to take a torch or be prepared to book a taxi especially for the end of the evening – walk or take the shuttle bus to the car park, continue to Gate B, turn right and follow the road to win your freedom. This is a format in itself). But what is it like? There are no results spoilers here so don’t worry, although if you don’t want to know what the challenges are like then come back and read this after it’s gone out.

  • The show is set in the FIVE Exhibition Centre in Farnborough. It’s a big ol’ aircraft hangar basically. The stage is raised diagonally across the middle of the floor – at one end is a big screen which splits to act as doors, at the other end is some grandstand seating for friends and family and lucky audience members. The rest of the audience are standing either side of the stage, and they are standing for the whole recording – about three hours tonight.
  • Around the stage are various banners with the show’s compass logo on it. On the stage are various adventury/aeronautical props – cargo boxes, propellers, ropes and the like. The contestants have their own podiums along the right of the stage with pictures of their other halves on them, and on the floor in the middle are some grid markings (I presume, I couldn’t actually see it from my vantage point).
  • And Emma Willis is our genial host, with Reggie Yates doing the OB bits.
  • Right so the basic premise is pretty good – ten couples (not necessarily romantically linked) compete to win the £100,000 prize. One of each couple stays at home whilst the other half will compete in adventure challenges in Morocco (for it is there). The three worst performers each week get on the plane back home, and their partners must compete in a quiz to earn the ticket back to Morocco. Each week one or two couples are eliminated until the last one left wins the money.
  • The show is recorded in real time (so it’s baffling it’s not live really) – the challenges are filmed during the week, the losers fly back on Friday night, compete in the quiz on Saturday and the winners fly back out that night. The halves don’t have any contact with each other except for a fleeting couple of minutes in the studio, so tearful reunions are expected.
  • Out in Morocco the adventurers all face a team challenge – the group is split into two teams, the winners automatically stay on the show, the losers face a Survival Challenge.
  • It is fair to point out that the videos we got to see were rough cuts and there are all sorts of questions about how the entire thing is going to edit together, so please bear that in mind.
  • This week it’s exploring the Marketplace of Fes. The teams have been invited to a party at the Palace but they have to pick up some things along the way. They have a map, a wheelbarrow and a phrasebook. Their first job is to pick up as many oranges as they can carry, in the event of a tie the amount of oranges will determine the winner. The other things to pick up all have a sort of mini-task involved – it might be a very specific rug, or they’ll have to negotiate buying slippers. This isn’t a race, but it probably ought to be. It’s not the most interesting or original task in honesty.
  • There are quite a lot of filmed interjections regarding home and personal life, and fairly often the tape will be stopped and Emma will have a chat with the partners in the studio. It feels a little bit like it could do with more action and less reaction, but as I say it might edit well.
  • The partners of the winning team in the studio are all sent packing for the evening, we will see them next week after a brief video message from their adventure partner.
  • The losing team now face the Survival Challenge, and the bottom three will fly back to the UK. This week a rather spectacularly shot challenge in a cave above a 260ft drop. Simply, they must walk along a very ricketty-looking bridge then jump off and grab onto a trapeze and hang on for as long as possible, until the inevitable, a not-260ft drop attached to a safety rope. Not an original challenge, but some spectacular filmography here so it can have a pass.
  • Once the film of all four contestants have been played, the losing three are introduced one-by-one back through the doors into the studio. They’re still kept apart from their partner, and will remain so until after the quiz.
  • The quiz. There are five lights on the floor leading up to the departure gate – a runway of sorts. Every time a player gets a question correct, they move one step forward. Every time they get a question wrong, the opposing players get to take a step forward. Whatsmore the best-worst performer on the Survival Challenge gets a two step headstart, the next player a one-step headstart and the outright loser no headstart, whatsmore this will be the order of play. The adventurer chooses the category of questions for their partner – four to choose from – and they will continue to get questions on those categories until they get to the Departure Gate. Once they get to the Departure Gate they will get a question on Morocco and/or something tangentally related to things the adventurers have been up to. A correct answer on the Departure Gate means you’re getting back on the plane.
  • All questions are three-option multiple choice. Most of them aren’t too difficult I thought, but there is the occasional stumper.
  • Tonight was especially exciting as there was a double eviction elimination so the quiz worked slightly differently – the first two people to get three spaces then fought it out in a straight race for the line, whoever didn’t make it to space three is out there and then.
  • Winners get a brief chance to hug their partner, then straight out back to be shown getting on a plane – literally (you can see it on your way in just outside the hangar, although whether this is actually the plane they use to fly them back is doubtful).
  • I really want to like it but I think it’s got its work cut out in the edit to make it watchable – the tasks aren’t all that original, the quiz rather slow and a bit hackneyed and the one thing I can almost guarantee people will say is that “there’s too much chat.” BUT the conceit is quite nice and it’s well filmed and I quite like the logo, and if I’m hard on it it’s because I’m an adventure game nut and want them all to be brilliant, so.

Edit: A few more things whilst I remember:

  • The casting is diverse, there’s a wide range of ages and ethnicities not only in the question-answerers but especially so in the adventurers. It positively encourages have-a-go heroes.
  • There were a couple of times where they had to stop chatting because a plane flew overhead. These bits will almost certainly be edited out, but it might be worth keeping one or two instances in to reiterate they’re in a real hangar, for ambience.
  • It sounds like they’re going to go big on behind-the-scenes stuff and extra clips on the website, so there’s that.

Watching Telly: You’re Back In The Room

ybitrlogoNew hypnotism game show hosted by Phillip Schofield and Irish hypnotist Keith Barry. Interestingly it looks like Barry Jones from comic magicians Barry and Stuart was on hand as an off-camera consultant (I didn’t realise this until the warm-up Stuart Holdham pointed it out). It was filmed at ITV Studios (Studio One, studio fans). It is a Tuesday’s Child production.

  • The set is a large stage surrounded by LEDs. These are normally coloured purple. The large LED screen which forms the back of the stage will have the logo displayed and a back drop of swirling clocks – basically what you see above in fact.
  • Our five contestants sit on black chairs to the left of the stage.  There is kind of a separate area sectioned off to the right of the stage, but all the games will mainly play on the main bit of the stage.
  • Keith comes on and introduces himself and explains suggestion and hypnotism to the audience, that there was an audition tour and the contestants on tonight proved the most suggestible. He does a couple of simple things with the audience – hands getting heavy, hands getting stuck together, that sort of thing. Some of the audience come across as very suggestible and are  told they should apply if it comes up again.
  • Phillip says he believes it and wouldn’t be involved with the show if he thought it was fake. Also that he’s not going to let Keith try it on him,he doesn’t think he’s very suggestible. I thought the contestants were very convincing (although one thing nagged at me at the end of the show which I’ll go into), the big question (and really the success of the show is going to depend on it) is how cynical the audience are and if they’ll buy into it, and these days they are very cynical.
  • Under law they can’t show you Keith putting the contestants under in case he puts the whole audience under, so you see a brief clip of him doing it off-stage. Or you see the contestants zonked out on some sofas at any rate. We are told we should applaud and encourage the contestants by the warm-up but not do anything to break their trance although I’m not quite sure what if anything could be done. There were also substantial breaks between rounds so he could top them up, apparently.
  • That’s the set-up, here’s the format: the contestants will play four games to build up a cash pot of up to £25,000 which they will play for in the fifth and final game. The show is set-up to be non-threatening and light-hearted, as such the money is suggested to be a “thank you for participating” rather than anything seriously lifechanging. The  contestants don’t know each other, they’ll split the money equally.
  • Right, I think the set-ups are unique to each episode but there are still episodes left to film. To avoid any future participants getting too many ideas as to what might happen to them I’ll detail the games used but I’ll only detail the hindrances for the first one and keep the rest a surprise for broadcast, as I’m sure you’ll pick up the idea. I am aware this might feel like a bit of a cop-out, reader, perhaps I will come back to this once all the shows are in the can.
  • In the first game, the contestants have to make sculptures out of clay based on a word given to them in envelopes. At the end of the time all the other contestants will try and guess what it was they were trying to sculpt, and correct answers win £1,000 for the pot. However, AND SLEEP (the studio goes all dark blue at this point), one contestant will believe that the clay is a sort of cream that makes you look younger, one will believe the clay smells of dog poo, one will believe they are a famous French sculptor who is disgusted by the poor tools that are given and will frequently stop and listen to a song on the radio. The fourth contestant believes that all the sculptures everyone else is making are obscene. The final contestant will, whenever he hears the theme from the film Ghost (which comes on when the French one turns the radio on), he will immediately rush over to the other guy and pretend to be Patrick Swayze in that famous pottery scene. When they’re told they’re “back in the room”, the LED backdrop changes to a picture to set scene and indeed be a room.
  • So a lot of the elements interplay with each other, and it works and is funny, helped along immeasurably by Schofield playing along with and frequently up to the contestants. Keith is off-stage throughout so it’s up to Philip to (attempt to) keep control until the klaxon goes to end the game.
  • In game two the contestants must blow up balloons for a children’s party. Two of them blow them up, two tie them to sticks and one of them must take them and put them in a stand. And when a balloon bursts they must hide behind a table. Something very funny happened here before the game starts which they probably are not going to be able to show in a primetime broadcast, but if they don’t I’ll tell you what it was when it comes round. Each balloon is worth £250.
  • Game three is The Music Quiz (it was suggested that this has come up before). Ten music questions worth £500 each, each one subtly related to the effect they’ve been put under. In addition, one of them plays a bonus round, an additional set of ten questions only they will answer (but with everyone else still doing crazy things in the background) again worth £500 for the pot each.
  • Game four involved serving dinner and drink to popular TV chefs – each one should have meat, mashed potato, gravy, carrots and a glass of champagne, each one for each chef worth £250. Amusingly the contestants got into their roles before Schofield had a chance to introduce the game and the celebrities and a yellow raincoat but ever the professional took it in his stride and just ad libbed around the chaos. One contestant loses a shoe and it takes production several minutes to find it.
  • The final. The room is set up with laser boundaries, one of which turns off briefly (acting as a door). On the left side of the room is a massive trough holding 500, maybe more golden balls. On the left side of the room is an empty trough, and all the contestants have to do is get as many balls into the empty trough as possible. Each ball is worth 1/250th of the prize fund (but rounded up to the next fiver, so if they built up £22k, say, they’d play for £90 a ball rather than £88). Contestants have two minutes thirty to do this, a new member entering the room every twenty seconds and then all of them for the remaining time. But of course all of them have been given something to make it more difficult (one is a pirate who has forgot his wooden leg, another believes the floor is made of ice and so on).
  • At some point during proceedings Keith may give them new suggestions to replace the ones they were given.
  • Whatever value of balls in the trough at the end is what they’ll collectively take home, and if it’s not all of what they’ve built up it’s likely to be most of it.
  • And that’s it, a bit of a mammoth record at five hours but it should edit really well.
  • I thought the contestants were convincing, they certainly stayed in their roles well after the games until Keith “reset” them. EXCEPT. Except. At the end of the final game where they seemed to drop the suggestion pretty damn quickly after the klaxon went, and Keith didn’t remove it until several minutes later. It’s very possible I missed something, and I’m probably more sceptical than most, but I did notice and it did jar. Maybe when the lasers dropped the “room” stops existing and so does the suggestion. I don’t know.
  • And that is going to be question that hangs over the show. It certainly is funny and it certainly should edit well, and it’s fun, but these days a lot of people are going to think “is it staged, and if it is why am I bothering?” and a decently large segment of the audience are going to proclaim it is anyway.  I don’t think there’s going to be a middle ground here, it’ll be a massive Paul McKenna-style hit or a massive flop. I think I’m pulling for the former.

Watching Telly: Keep It In The Family

I’ve just got back from Elstree with ITV1’s big new hope Keep It In The Family.

  • The stage is set up as a open house backdrop, the background can change colours but for most of the time it’s purple. It’s on two floors, the bottom floor is dominated by a large screen which acts as the floor for the first floor (I’m not describing this very well). And on that first floor are two large square trapdoors.
  • Two families sit on curved settees stage left. They are formed of a kid and three family members.
  • Our host is the brilliant Bradley Walsh who really sells it.
  • Each episode also features six celebrities , todays were from Emmerdale. They’re in another room for most of the show.
  • The show begins with lots of entertaining Brad Chat with the families that will get cut to time.
  • The first round is “Family Business” for reasons I forget. Here the child picks one of the family members to take part in a game without any idea of what it might be, but it’s based on a variety act. This episode’s was an absolutely stunning pyrotechnics display involving fire batons and giant sparklers that I hope comes across as well on television as it did in the studio.
  • The contestants now having been scared out of their wits as to what might happen to them now go and prepare themselves for their version. In this case they were strapped to vertical spinning wheels and alternately asked questions about TV families. If they get one wrong their wheel starts spinning. A second wrong and their wheel starts spinning faster. A third wrong and huge sparklers start going off and they’ve lost the game. The other family now apparently get three points.
  • The winning family’s child is now give the choice of two prizes as revealed by two of the stars of Emmerdale who have come out and stood on the trapdoors. They will try and persuade the child that there’s is the one to take home, because the child has control of two levers and whichever one he pulls will send the star plummetting. This bit was actually quite good fun and the stars argued and played along nicely. The audience are encouraged to countdown and chant “DROP! DROP! DROP!” as the kid pulls the lever.
  • At this point this show feels like a winner, it ticks all the right boxes. It looks and feels like the sort of show everyone says they’ll watch but doesn’t, except this one might actually stand a chance.
  • Unfortunately it feels a little bit like it hits its peak a bit too soon. Round Two is Nanna Knows Best and involves six grandmothers. There’s some lengthy Brad Chat with them which will get cut to time, and then the game involves them giving clues to things and names that pop up on their screen. As soon as the families can work out what they’re on about they can buzz in and guess, although a wrong answer freezes them out for the rest of the question.
  • Initially this is a fun idea, the grannies hints vary between useful and not very (especially when they don’t know what the thing is – like Angry Birds for example) but by the end of the round I was quite glad it was over, judicious use of the editing suite needed here I think. There was a good old laugh at one clue that sounded a bit saucy (spotted dick). Bradley was quite good at summarising the good clues for the families. The better team gets to select another prize, but I can’t work out if the scores were carried forward from the first round or not, from my position I couldn’t see the scoreboards set at the beginning of the round.
  • The third and final round is Family Selection Box. The contestants are dressed up with a different theme each week – in this case pop stars, one on each team of Miley Cyrus, Elton John, Will I Am and Whitney Houston. These include giant heads and difficult footwear. Questions are asked on the buzzer, each one worth a point (total scores definitely used at this point), however in a fun twist, if the question involves one of the people they’re dressed up as, they must race to a third central buzzer at the front of set to give their answer. These first questions are prefixed by “get ready to run”, I ponder if it might have been more fun/interesting if they weren’t. The team with the highest score goes through to the final. The losing family keeps any prizes won and the kid gets some sort of experience prize.
  • The final round is “Swap or Drop to Keep It In The Family” – Walsh uses this phrase quite a lot during the show but it’s only really now it matters. All six Emmerdale cast come out holding a box. Inside each box is a card representing a prize. Also on each box is a rhyming clue as to what’s in the box – if you’re thinking “this is a bit 3-2-1” you’d be exactly right. There are a couple of differences – first of all all six prizes on offer are shown to the audience and contestants so everyone knows what they’re looking for. The kid picks a star who reads out their clue and stands on the “safe” trapdoor. He then picks another star who stands on the danger trapdoor and reads their clue out. The family must decide if they’re going to swap because one of them will drop. When they’ve decided who is going to drop the celeb opens the box to eliminate the prize and then the kid pulls the lever and they disappear. New celebs stand on the danger platform and the process continues until there are two prizes left, the eliminated prize is not revealed before dropping them out, the one prize left is what is taken home.
  • As such these clues are not as clever/difficult as they are on 3-2-1 but really it still feels like a game of luck – the clues are written in such a way that they could refer to several of the prizes, and after dropping off Bradley points out the bit in the clue that gave it away when really it feels completely arbitrary rather than puzzled out – I shan’t spoil as it sounds like the first ep going out will be the one recorded this afternoon. The audience are encouraged to shout out advice which is fun, and of course shout “DROP! DROP! DROP!” I do wonder if it might have been more fun if the prizes weren’t revealed beforehand, although I can’t imagine they didn’t try this in the year it took to get the show where it is now.
  • The result feels like the most self-assured light entertainment show ITV have done in years even if really the format and the games aren’t all that.

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.