Show Discussion: The Wall

By | October 11, 2019
You mug.

Saturday, 8:35pm,
BBC One

We may never officially know which came first – Endemol buying the The Wall format or hiring hardman cockney actor Danny Dyer to be a gameshow host, and let’s be clear – it’s stunt casting that’s either going to look ingenious or fall very flat, and that’s just Angela Rippon reading the questions.

It’s the BBC’s very own version of International Moderatehit The Wall, where pairs of contestants try and win thousands of pounds (although not, in all likelihood, anywhere close to the US top prize potential of $12m) from the titular wall, gambling on their partner’s ability to answer general knowledge questions. For every correct answer they can drop green balls into the wall, adding wherever they land (and there’s actually a little bit of strategy to this, the bigger amounts are further to the right so they can drop further to the right if they’re comfortable) but wrong answers will take money away. The person answering the questions won’t know if they’re right or wrong or not, leading to a possibly interesting, possibly not buy-out decision at the end of the show depending on how they’ve pitched it.

The US original is basically fine, it remains to be seen if the much smaller stakes (and slightly longer ad-less runtime) still make it worthwhile. Let us know what you think in the comments, Tweacle.

37 thoughts on “Show Discussion: The Wall

  1. Daniel W

    The English language version of project z has been renewed for a second series as tweets have gone out on school accounts saying that the producers visited them

    Reply
  2. Mart With An Y Not An I

    Having watched a load of the French version editions via YT, and in idle moments of trying to drege up what I learnt in French lessons at le coat de bleu school, I did wonder if it ended up over here, it would be on ITV rather than the BBC.
    And when I found out it was coming here, I was therefore looking forward to applying for tickets to see it at either Elstree Film Studios or Pinewood (as they are the only realistically suitable place with a high enough lighting grid to get The Wall into) so, therefore, totally skipping with joy to find out Endemol recorded the entire series on the set of the Polish version.

    OK, i thought, so at least they’ll get a decent and experienced gameshow host, for such a technical and fast moving question and gameplay. Oh.
    According to a piece in Broadcast Magazine – Dyer ended up as being the host, because when the BBC and Endemol brought the rights it was also with the idea that the host of the show, wouldn’t be a ‘regular’ on the quizshow hosting circut. I’ll reseve judgement until the first show – but my hopes are a ground level, if the fast cut trailer is anything to go by,

    Reply
    1. David B

      I reckon Dyer might be something of an inspired choice, actually. Once you get over the shock value you think… “yeah, why not?”. Why not try someone that arguably appeals more to the C2DE’s? There’s been something of a rut in casting choices recently, and it’s nice to try something different.

      Reply
  3. Brett Linforth

    I can just see it now – ‘Answer the questions, you schlags!’

    Reply
  4. Brandon

    First impression: I hope they don’t have that annoying Colour Of Money-esque intro in every episode. Danny Dyer is like a discount Bradley Walsh. How did they get the audience for this? I know when they shot 500 Questions and Beat the Star in Germany, they used families from nearby British Army bases, did they have something to rely on here? Or is it a mostly Polish audience, which would explain the awkward delays in the reactions to Danny’s jokes.

    Reply
    1. Tom H

      I think we can assume the audience was mainly Polish – they were sat there stony-faced for large portions of the show. The problem with that is the audience is in shot **so much of the time** – far more than the French version from memory – so it becomes a distraction.

      I agree with Mr Bodycombe – Danny Dyer was a clever bit of casting. If they’d have gone for a Nick Knowles, say, or some other generic face, this show would probably have sunk without trace. Dyer gives it a bit of talkability – and to his credit, he seemed genuinely involved in the game and was excellent explaining the rules. I’m amazed, however, his gag about Kim Jong-un – which fell *very* flat in the studio – was left in the edit.

      I know Brig’s concerned that they didn’t choose to show a big win on episode one – but I’m OK with that. Demonstrate to the audience it’s a game of luck and there’s a reason to return to see if next week’s players do better.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I don’t think it needed to open with a big win, I think it should probably have opened with a moderate Wall win just to show off the show’s potential, but I won’t argue with the result.

        Actually really liked Danny Dyer here. Not a natural gameshow host, no, and he’s not about to get work hosting Mastermind any time soon. But he clearly understands and gets into the game and has a great rapport with the contestants. I did think his opening intro doesn’t suit him though, the first minute was “oh crikey” and then ten minutes later I was completely on board.

        Still think Freefall’s “must finish in the positive” is a rubbish rule, because clearly they aren’t going to replace them with another team if they lose, they’re just going to reshoot with others and not show it, so the tension isn’t there.

        I think the lower cash values actually benefit the format, it’s the sort of money where you can pretty easily work out the utility for yourselves in a way that seven figure sums flying about doesn’t manage.

        I’ll leave the final words to my Mum who texted me after the show, and is normally a pretty good barometer of mainstream appeal:

        “Well I just watched The Wall…. loved it! Honestly wasn’t expecting to like it after seeing the ads for it, but it was very easy to get invested in the outcome.”

        Reply
        1. Chris M. Dickson

          Years ago, an academic and TV historian once memorably, and quite correctly, referred to our very own Brig as an International Game Show Analyst. In the same vein, I reckon Brig’s Mum should be considered a red hot National Game Show Analyst.

          Reply
  5. Clive Of Legend

    Apart from the spoilerific intro, pleading with balls, and the artificial ending, I enjoyed it! I was really dreading American-style contestants on a sugar rush so it was nice to start with a fairly normal pair, and especially nice not to lead off with the predictable big win.

    Reply
  6. Greg

    Danny Dyer is just plain awful as a gameshow host. So much so it’s put me right off watching any future episodes. I am all for trying somebody different but Danny Dyer is not the right person in my view. Rob Beckett could have done well hosting this I think he is doing well on Head Hunters.

    Reply
  7. Daniel W

    Random thought totally unrelated to the wall of the day.

    Does anyone know what pitches won that Harry hill remote controller pilot from a couple years ago. Imagine if we missed the next best series because they wouldn’t commission it,

    But if first & last can get a series after pilot after pilot then maybe the remote controller can.

    Reply
    1. David B

      Weren’t they scouting around for people to send in their ideas for this about 5 months back…?

      Reply
      1. Daniel W

        I don’t remember seeing anything about that, all I could find online is the information about the 2017 pilot

        Reply
  8. Brandon

    One thing they could have done is made the Wall into a bit more of a character, with scripted banter between Danny and the Wall similar to the announcers on some European shows or the Brain from Beat The Brain. Given how often Ben personifies the machine on Tipping Point and the fact the Wall already has a voice, I can see that working.

    Reply
    1. Mart With An Y Not An I

      But that all depends on when Angela’s voicetrack was recorded.
      If it was done live during the recording, then, yes, I could see that working – although, it would ‘ruin’ the slightly distant air to the proceedings that the wall has. Chatty stuff is left to the host front of stage.

      One suspects though (and not just with the UK, but with other versions) the voice, is either pre-recorded then programmed into the software driving the operation of The Wall, music, graphics and lighting during gameplay – or – is done in post-production, a la John Briggs on The Weakest Link.

      Reply
  9. TheLupineOne

    Very much liking this. Enjoy the dynamic between the players on either side of The Wall; for the one in the isolation booth it’s a test of knowledge, for the other, it’s a test of relationships… until relationships go out of the window and the player tries chasing their losses after a massive blowout. I can definitely see the final proveout brining some real heart-in-mouth moments as the gulf between the wall winnings and guaranteed cash widens.

    Reply
  10. Whoknows

    Weirdly I found this perfectly watchable but not particularly entertaining. It looks great but a lot of the gameplay just left me cold for some reason.

    I HATED the ending where they’re talking about the contract and the other one has to fake her reaction. Didn’t need to be done like that at all.

    Reply
  11. David B

    Do we know how the values relate to the US original and therefore can we extrapolate the likely average and top prizes?

    Reply
    1. Brandon

      All that has been worked out on the Wikipedia page.£687,495 is the top prize and as expected from that most of the amount are 5% of the US (or half of the Polish version). The highest win is $1.4 million which translates to roughly £70k. The US average for just season 2 to according to Buzzerblog is $354,134. From that you could guess that our average might be about £17,500, but it’s important to remember for all our predictions that the smaller prize amounts could affect the risks the contestants take. Most of the the versions I’ve looked at have a table of results on their Wikipedia page and it look like wins of over the top pocket value are quite common, so that means we will most likely see a win of over £50k.

      Reply
  12. John R

    As Mark from the DOND forum would have said

    “Oh dear oh dear should have been a LOT more brave and a MASSIVE REGRET”

    Reply
  13. Harry F

    The second episode was a lot better than the first. Why they decided not to put this one on last week instead of the sisters, I have no idea.

    Reply
  14. Tom H

    3.75m for episode two last night; a whisker behind X Factor Celebrity on 3.9m.

    Reply
  15. Brig Bother Post author

    Ouch.

    In other news, didn’t realise you couldn’t go into negative figures in Freefall.

    Also somebody forgot to turn the beep machine for the dropping balls on, except for one question seemingly.

    Reply
    1. Mart With An Y Not An I

      Which is strange, because you’d think there’d be a motion sensor on each of the ‘prongs’, which when moved (or hit) would activate the beep noise in the computer system driving all aspects of The Wall, which would then go to the sound desk and the sfx onto the soundtrack.

      To dub that on in post prod would take some very quick fingers on the dubbing mixer to time a ball hit down the wall properly.

      Reply
    2. Harry

      From what I remember it was beeping on the green balls and silent on the red ones. If anything I prefered it, it felt slightly more menacing when it was quieter.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Don’t think so, because once I noticed its absence I couldn’t un-notice it, and having wondered if it depended on the ball it didn’t seem to.

        Personally I like it, adds dynamism, but accept mileages may vary.

        Reply
    3. Brandon

      I thought the bank had a floor of £0 all the way through the game, everything else I’ve seen suggests that.

      Reply

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