New thrill

By | March 11, 2019

Wonderball starts on BBC Scotland tonight. Suspect it’s not going to be quite worth its own discussion post, but it’s interesting if the BBC are using BBC Scotland as a test bed for cheap potential new formats.

In other news Belgian Mole started last night (here’s our discussion page) and although I’m not going to get to watch it until this evening everybody is being very enthusiastic about it. Eventually Belgian Mole will have an underwhelming season and it will be devastating.

Anyway I’ve found a clean copy of the theme:

I literally don’t care if I’m the only one who finds this funny, sorry (weee-ooo!)

12 thoughts on “New thrill

  1. Andrew Sullivan

    Might as well give a run-down of the game, as I recorded the episode.

    3 pairs of contestants start the game and the host has a pot with 15 balls inside, 5 for each team (5 pink balls numbered 1-5, 5 blue balls numbered 6-10 and 5 purple balls numbered 11-15). The host then adds the first of 3 red Danger Balls to the pot (a red ball with a black skull and crossbones on it, a cheap attempt at the Killer Balls from Golden Balls). The pot is then passed to the first team, who pick out a ball. They are then asked a question which eliminates the ball if answered correctly, or is returned to the pot if answered wrongly. Whatever happens, the pot is passed to the next team in the line. Play continues like this until 5 balls have been removed from play.

    You obviously don’t want to pick one of your own balls as that reduces your chance of winning as it’s the final ball that’s left in the pot, the titular Wonderball, that decides who wins the jackpot, but if it’s a Danger Ball, then no-one wins. Now, you might be asking ‘What if I pick one of my own balls? Can’t I just get it deliberately wrong so it gets returned to the pot?’. Sadly not, in this case. In order to return your own ball to the pot, you’ve to answer a harder question correctly, a wrong answer eliminates it from the game. You’ve also to answer a harder question to remove a Danger Ball if one is picked, but all 3 pairs can confer on it.

    After 5 balls have been removed, the host offers the teams in turn (starting with team 1) £100 if they wish to sell a ball so they can have some guaranteed cash. If someone DOES sell a ball and it’s picked over the course of the game, it’s automatically removed, but if it’s the Wonderball at the end of the game, the team the ball belonged to won’t win the jackpot. Whatever happens, a second Danger Ball is added to the pot and the game continues until another 5 balls leave the game. When this happens, the host then offers each team (starting with team 2) £200 to sell a ball, then a 3rd Danger Ball is added to the pot and the game carries on until 3 more balls leave the game. Then, the host offers £300 to each team (starting with team 3) to sell a ball.

    With 5 balls left in play, no more questions are asked. Balls continue to be picked in turn until only one remains. If all of a team’s balls leave play, that team is out and no longer picks balls. Any team that doesn’t win the jackpot, either by losing all their balls or a ball that they sold is the Wonderball or the Wonderball is a Danger Ball, then they come back for a second attempt to win the jackpot on the next episode.

    The set’s pretty nice, and the pot the balls are in sits on a nice sliding track. There’s a decent amount of strategy involved, like when it’s the right time to sell a ball as the game goes on. The questions are typical general knowledge fair with a few Scotland-centric questions sprinkled in here and there. Overall, it’s not a bad little quiz.

  2. Cliff

    Wonderball: tedious gameplay and easy questions, an annoying, simplistic music bed that never goes away, but the sliding track thing to pass the bucket around is a nice bit of design.

    Blue balls, though? Really?

    1. Brekkie

      Might be worth a watch. Don’t quite understand what they are selling – is it removing one of their balls from the pot.

  3. David B

    I like the flow of it, but it’s a shame the colours they’re using are very difficult to follow if you’re colour blind. I didn’t really understand the gamble rule, and I’m not sure I still do. And it’s a shame there’s not some kind of tube or track to roll the balls back to base. The balls themselves are also rather badly lit. Maybe they could’ve had LEDs inside them? Host is a good find and makes light work of the heavy lifting.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The first thing I thought after the incredible moving set-piece was that they needed a drain to get the balls back to the host. That’s symptomatic of wishing the show had a bit more of a production budget, because once I got drawn in I thought the process was quite fun even if, yes, it could be a bit faster. I thought the decisions faced were mildly interesting for the amounts of money in play. I think calling the red balls ‘Danger Balls’ is a bit silly because it implies you *don’t* want to pick them.

      What didn’t you understand about the gamble mechanic David? If you sold a ball it relinquishes all Wonderball monetary value. It stays in the pot in Deal or No Deal style proveout capacity. There probably ought to be some sort of sound effect when the Wonderball gets pulled out.

      Catriona Shearer (newsreader by trade) does a decent job, although it could have probably have done with someone a bit more comic.

      1. David B

        I didn’t really get what “It’s not your ball any more” exactly meant. Admittedly, I’d had a large G&T so was a bit drunk, but then again so would’ve half of BBC Scotland’s audience.

  4. Brandon

    I’m fairly sure Wonderball was announced as Danger Balls a few months back, thank god they came to their senses and gave it as slightly less crap title in the end.

  5. Alex McMillan

    I…really like Wonderball?

    It’s cheerful, there’s not a lot to it, but what there is is *nice*. I think it may be one or two mechanics short of being a hit, but in it’s current state I’d happily watch a full run of this.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Well lucky then there are 30 episodes in the run!

      I have thought of something that leaves a bit of a question mark, if you get two goes unless you win the jackpot, with just a reasonable bit of luck you could easily walk away with £1,200 just by selling the balls, over half a jackpot, which isn’t bad for a few hours work on the whole, and if you’re really lucky you could win £2,000 on top of that. I’m intrigued to see if anyone goes down this route throughout, it does rather feel to me a bit like the two-show rule might end up working against it.

      Also “that ball is NOT worth £2,000” isn’t that great a catchphrase tbh.

      1. David B

        What about “Dinnae mak a blunder, Keep ye ball full o’ wonder”?

  6. Jackson H

    Wonderball, then. I think it’s a good concept, marred by a poor production budget. As others have mentioned, it’d be nice to have a track to send the balls back to the host, who I think did quite well, by the way. The atmosphere is fun and nice. It’d be a good watch during an anxious night. I also think they could do with a board of lights to signify what balls are left, sort of like the US’s Lingo. The selling your balls element is really good, very tough decision. As for the music, I’m not really impressed. The theme isn’t anything special, but fits the light atmosphere. But the music that plays constantly during the game is highly irritating to the point of nearly ruining the show. My main problem with this, is the luck element is a bit too large, I think there should be a way to defend your ball if another team picks it. This would be much better: If a team picks another teams ball, the team whose ball was selected, and the team who picked the ball answer a question on the buzzer, if the selectors get it right, Ball is eliminated, if the owners do, ball goes back.
    I feel like the ball hopper needs more “pizazz”. It’s the main Crux of the show, so it should look a little more important to the set. That probably can be chalked up to the poor budget, though. I thought this show was alright, with some tweaking I think it could be some good fun. Although I feel others might not agree and this’ll end up in the hall of shame this year.


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