Posts belonging to Category That’s Your Pilot

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Scrabble

Blimey it’s been ages since I last did one of these, the best part of a year in fact.

Two pilots were recorded today, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. This write-up comes from the afternoon recording, there were large suggestions that this was still work in progress and they were still deciding things, also we’ll never know how it gets edited so please bear these things in mind when reading.

  • This is set for ITV afternoons from what I can gather.
  • So after Monday’s news it certainly raised an eyebrow when Jeff Stelling came out as the host. If both Scrabble and Alphabetical take off surely he won’t be hosting both? There may have been a different host this evening. Anyway Jeff was avuncular and professional throughout.
  • The set is minimalist but quite nice – the backdrop is a large videowall of various gradated shades of green with slightly darker line drawings of a large repeating diamond pattern. The stage is domianted by a giant LED (?) screen which shows the board at a slight incline. This looked really good on the studio monitors by the way, really pops out. In front of the board is a giant version of a tile rack, with seven screens to represent the tiles (you can’t really see these from the audience to be honest and you only really see it on screen when they do a wide shot). Host desk behind the board, team desks in the north-west and north-east corners.
  • This version of the show is played by two teams of two, a celeb and a civilian. Celebs this afternoon were Nina Wadia and Aled Jones. Civilian contestants seemed like normal reasonable people.
  • The show plays out like the traditional game you know and love with a few differences for telly. Both teams play from the same rack. Teams get 30 seconds to declare a word and start putting it on the board (they don’t have to finish within the time) using their touchscreens. Teams can challenge opponent’s words, forfeiting their go if they’re wrong (Jeff refers to the “Scrabble God” upstairs (in his ear) when this happens).
  • The biggest change is the bonus games. There are 14 special squares on the board, indicated with a picture. If your word uses a special square you get to play a bonus game for bonus points.
  • Some of these are quite good fun, such as What’s In A Name where you saw pictures of celebrities and had to use their initials to make the names of shops or whatever. Holey Vowels is like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle board with all the consonants removed. Word Worm was finding words in a small grid Trackword style, there was another one where you saw pictures and when you put them together they sound like something else, can you work out what they are? Each question in a bonus round is themed. Games repeat and you’re reminded of the rules each time, which struck me as being mildly annoying.
  • They’re also easy. Ridiculously easy. Each bonus game tasks the contestants to solve seven puzzles in 70 seconds and you can pass three times. Every bonus game was won, sometimes within 30 seconds, going to the wire basically once throughout. Each correct solve is worth five points, there is no bonus for completing (you’d think rounding it up to 50 would fit thematically, no?). Right now you might as well just award 35 points everytime someone crosses them.
  • While we’re having a moan, how come the contestant’s devices are less whizzy and useful than that of Challenge’s TV Scrabble fifteen years ago? Everyone seemed to be struggling to make things go where they needed to go.
  • Also the blanks should probably be filled for the audience at home for simplicity.
  • Teams initially get eight turns each, then a hooter goes off and it’s SPEED Scrabble, which is just like the regular turns except you only get twenty seconds to come up with a word and the points are doubled.
  • The problem here really is that it if the idea is to come across a bit more quickfire it certainly didn’t feel any speedier (perhaps they will cut quicker in the edit, dunno). One of the issues here is that the bonus games are still in play and unchanged (and undoubled) – if you’re going to keep the difficulty of these as is at this point, at least make them a bit more interesting. Double the points and halve the time maybe.
  • With one turn to go and the result basically in the bag for the winners, Stelling suddenly declared that the losers should still try because their points will get converted into pounds, which seemed to take everybody by surprise.
  • As an aside, today’s game started off quite dull with unfortunate tiles drawn, one team pulled ahead, the other caught up with good use of bonus squares then other team managed to pull away again with copious use of Qs. As proof of concept the bonus squares worked as an extra dimension to keep the game interesting today, although there’s every chance the winning team could be better with words AND dominate the bonus squares as well so you may still get 60 minute blow-outs.
  • The winner’s points are converted into cash and they will get the chance to win thousands extra playing Scrabble Scramble, and this is especially exciting as they get to stand at the south-west corner of the set to do so.
  • In Scrabble Scramble the team have two minutes to get from the centre to one of the triple word scores, earning money for each premium space used (Double letters are worth £50 (apart from some which are worth £500), triple letters £100, double words £500 and triple words £1,000). They do this by playing words onto the board as usual. If they don’t make it to a triple word in time they win nothing from Scrabble Scramble.
  • The best tactic is short words diagonally down, covering the £500 double words as far as possible. This makes the most money, unfortunately it’s a bit boring and feels rather lacking in finesse. Today’s winner was quite smart to get into a position where he had a letter that could end the game at any time and started racking up a bit of money doing the same tactic elsewhere.
  • Not only is this not very exciting but this was rather exacerbated by having to wrestle with the touchscreen and seemingly the game pausing after every word to be verified. I’m pretty sure my ZX Spectrum version was a bit more hi-octane.
  • Right now I struggle to see it fitting on ITV in honesty without putting rather more work in. Right now it doesn’t seem quite challenging or fun enough. You never know though.

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Name That Tune (2015)

Well this was certainly different. If the pilot they shot last year with Bill Bailey was quite trad ITV light entertainment, this felt quite alien and brave but in an interesting way that I’ve got no idea how an audience would respond. It was certainly one of the most entertaining recordings I’ve been to…

  • It was recorded at Under the Bridge, off Chelsea football stadium, quite a small music venue. The set was a video wall at the back of the stage, band stage left, the two team podiums (which looked similar to last year’s if I recall) set apart in the middle and that’s it. The background is mainly disco-style blue dots with the name of the round and occasionally the money cast upon it.
  • The audience are seated in the dancefloor area, but between bits of recordings you were able to just get up and get drinks from the bars at the back. Relaxed! There were a lot of people watching from the mezzanine a few foot behind the dancefloor on stools.
  • The host is the brilliant Frank Skinner, very quick to fill with gags as you’d expect but also capable of a sharp put down where necessary. He was dressed in a suit and a bow tie and carried a stick mic (although also seemed to be miced up himself). The music was all provided by Alex Horne and the Horne Section, great choice and able to improvise quickly. Horne also did all the announcing. Fans of The Frank Skinner Show will be pleased to note that Skinner also joins in with the theme tune. I also noticed that the tunes played coming back from the breaks were TV themes with “name that tune” added to the end.
  • Basically the whole thing felt rather more like something from the cabaret circuit or Fringe show rather than a primetime ITV recording. It was referred to a runthrough as well as a pilot, so I’ve no idea. I could certainly understand it more as a runthrough, but then there’d be no need for an audience. It certainly felt different. It’s rather retro in style, but not seemingly in an ironic way.
  • Like last year’s pilot two teams of three play. They will play four rounds (always referred to as “games” to the point where they’d re-record if they said “round”, so maybe the intention is for a different selection to be played each week).
  • Game one was Name That Tune – seven intros played up to the point the lyrics kick in, buzz in and name the tune for £50. Different to last time is that there were a lot more modern tunes in the mix (i.e. Uptown Funk). Scores displayed on the video wall after each round, but surely the contestants are standing in the way.
  • Game two was Twist a Tune – the band play a medley of well known hits but all done in an unusual style – this time country and western. Teams write down the songs on boards. £100 for each song correctly identified.
  • Game three was Build a Tune – The band would play a tune starting with one instrument and gradually adding instruments, buzz in when you know it. Songs started at £400 then halved in value with each extra instrument down to £50. Four songs here.
  • Game four was the classic Bid a Note, best of five tunes, £2,000 for the winners – yup it’s the golden snitch. I always have a problem with bid a note in that it’s not always really that good a game, classic as it is, any time the players think they can name it in one note the clue was clearly too easy. I think the difficulty this time round was basically OK, personally I think you need to have clues that are vague enough to have a few possible responses to make the bidding element actually mean anything.
  • Losers get to keep their winnings.
  • The winning team went thorough to the Prize Tune which is the Golden Medley of old – one of the team must identify eight tunes in sixty seconds, you get timed out after around eight seconds. This is for a car, pictured on the screen. No extra money if they don’t make it.
  • So really not sure what to make of it – a very enjoyable recording certainly but it’s going to be quite an odd final edit I think. I’d love to see it one day. There were two commercial breaks but I don’t know what to read into that.

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: The Hit List

tomdavidhitlistTuesday 24th Feb, 4:30pm,

Well more of an exciting runthrough, but it’s got proper TV people working on it and a set and everything.

You may remember Tom Scott doing a live Youtube show called First Person Quiz last year, this is a v2.0 of that with a view to actual real television.

Again a contestant in studio will be racing the internet to find as many answers as possible to David B’s questions but we’ve been told to expect a lot of format tweaks. Personally I have some question marks as to how it would work with an audience of millions, so it will be very interesting to see how it all comes across this afternoon.

I’ll put the video back here if an edited one goes up. 

There might also be a practice go earlier in the afternoon, so make sure you keep it locked to @hitlistquiz on Twitter for the latest details.

That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Cheat

The lovely John R went to MediaCity yesterday and has this to report:

To kick off it is the first time I’ve been to MediaCity, nice place. Appreciated how there was alcohol in the waiting area available for purchase (not free sadly!). But getting in to the studio was a bit unorganised, eventually slowly ushered in via sticker numbers.

Audience was mainly comprised of the older generation, so their plan to integrate an EXCITING SMART PHONE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ELEMENT fell a bit flat (more on that later)

Alan Carr…I mean Jonathan was the warm up, new to me although I’m sure based on that description some of you will know him. He was probably the best part of attending this recording.

Steve Jones is the host, remember this was just a not for broadcast pilot so it was probably a case of who was available near Manchester on the day. Not the worst host for this I guess but nothing special. Then again, I think the last time I saw him was the hugely successful 101WTLAG

Anyway off we go and Steve introduces the 8(!) contestants who do a quick intro (When I say quick, one poor guy had to do a retake at least 10 times as he couldn’t get his words out properly!), the intros maybe according to Steve contain ‘a few bluffs’ but this idea never really goes much further to be honest.

One is ‘randomly picked’ to join Steve at the podium with a large red buzzer in the middle and they have tablet keypad devices set up. These went into standby mode a lot which ended up causing a lot of retakes.

First round is 3 questions with a multiple choice of 3 answers for each, an easy question a medium question and a hard question seemed to be what they were going for. If the contestant gets any one of these 3 questions wrong they’re out of the game for good BUT WAIT! If they don’t know the answer they also have a cheat button on their tablet which will automatically select the correct answer!

After each question Steve will open the field up to the other waiting contestants and they can start questioning the active contestant to try and work out if they actually know the answer or are bluffing and have cheated their way through the question. For example if the contestant is asked ‘Which pub soap features The Queen Vic’ and the answers are Emmerdale/Coronation Street/Eastenders they might decide to ask the contestant about the characters from the various soaps.

During this rather awkward conversation period of any of the waiting contestants feel the active contestant has been a bit naughty and cheated then they can awkwardly walk towards the big red button and hit it to accuse them of cheating. If the accusation turns out to be correct then the active contestant gets booted off for good and the accuser gets straight through to round 2.

Should the accusation turn out to be incorrect however then the active contestant carries on as normal and Steve sends the accuser back to the waiting area with a yellow card. You read that right. A YELLOW CARD. (Not as in an actual card of the yellow colour, a football style ‘one more false accusation and you’re off the show’). This was stupid, in my eyes they make one wrong accusation and they should be eliminated there and then.

Anyway rinse and repeat until 4 contestants are through. Very boring.

I’m sure Steve at one point mentioned any of the waiting contestants that didn’t get through would maybe get to appear in the next show but this was never mentioned again…however…

…by the end of the recording they seemed to have decided Round 1 was a massive complex waste of time so did some pick ups so basically the entire show starts at Round 2.

Round 2 and down to 4 contestants. Steve invites 2 of them to go head to head. The head to head involves both contestants getting 3 lifes and 3 cheats. Steve alternates between the contestants, asking them questions the same as in Round 1 multiple choice questions with 3 answers. After each answer is given the opponent has a bit of a debate before deciding if they want to hit the button. If they hit the button and the other contestant has turned out to cheat then the cheater loses a life however should a false accusation be made then the accuser loses a life. If the contestant cheats and the opponent doesn’t catch them out then nothing really happens. Again, why isn’t the opponent punished for managing to miss a cheat?!

Once the contestants have used all their cheats they are on their own, I think a wrong answer at this point meant just a life lost but it may have meant instant elimination, I can’t fully remember.

Again rinse and repeat until one of the contestants loses all their lifes. This dragged lots and was a bit boring.

At this point we were a good 3.5 – 4 hours into recording and half the audience decided to leave and it was time for a quick 10 minute break.

When we got back? They had the do the exact same again with the other 2 contestants! At this point I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t bail with the others before!

Anyway this round is where they tried the EXCITING SMART PHONE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ELEMENT! Basically the audience members with smartphones had a website ( if interested) to visit and the opponent could ask the audience just once during the round if they thought the other contestant was cheating or not. Didn’t really work, eventually they settled on just getting the audience to form an opinion via crowd noise which got on with the job. Cheers for the free WiFi to stop me getting too bored throughout the recording though!

Anyway after all this is done and dusted we have 2 contestants to face each other in Round 3. Which is just head to head again!!! (SERIOUSLY?!) the only twist this time is before the question is asked the opponent gets to pick from 2 categories so they want to pick the worse category for the challenger based on what they have learnt about them throughout the show. This drags as much as Round 2 and in the end it was getting quite late in the evening and the remaining audience were getting a bit bored so they rigged it a bit just so we could get on to the final round.

The final round and money is up for grabs! Up to £10,000! The contestant is posed 7 questions, again multiple choice 3 answers and has 5 seconds to answer each one (although initially Steve decided to give them all the time in the world resulting in yet more retakes!). After all 7 have been answered, the answers are reviewed by Steve and the contestant. Here is the catch – they must get all 7 right to be in with a chance of winning any money! However they can CHEAT up to 3 of their answers if unsure, which will halve the prize fund each time so 1 CHEAT = £5000 2 CHEATS = £2500 3 CHEATS = £1250. If the contestant wins then Steve will go through the answers they CHEATed on to see what money they could potentially have missed out on.

And that is it! I understand this was a pilot but to arrive at 2:30pm and only be back at the MediaCity tram station for 8:30pm for such a simple show seemed a bit stupid really. And the overall impression I felt was ‘boring’ so I would be amazed if it got a commission, particulary in the teatime slot it seems to be aiming at (although a Pressure Pad type slot may be another option).

I don’t think there’s much wrong with the central conceit per se, but the biggest difficulty with this sort of thing is pitching the questions – too easy and we have people discussing whether they know one and one is two for a fact (dull), too difficult then there’s only one strategy and it’ll get dull (dull).

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.