That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Just 1 Thing

Well I say pilot, by the sounds of it it’s basically gone straight to series so this is more of a filmed runthrough. I don’t know if they will use this episode for broadcast so I’ve tried to avoid results spoilers unless it’s to demonstrate something:

  • j1tIt’s filmed at BBC Elstree, which is a few hundred yards from Big Brother Elstree – be careful not to confuse the two!
  • Warm up was the award winning Karl Lucas who was funny, but given there were kids in the audience probably pushed the risque elements a bit too far.
  • The host is none other than The Nation’s Sweetheart Bradley Walsh.
  • The logo is eerily reminscent when it’s moving to that of We Love TV with Gloria Hunniford.
  • The set is largely blue, Bradley and challenger sit on benches to the left of the set (where there is also a large eliptical monitor behind them, there are sliding doors and stairs in the middle of the stage, and a “performance” stage on the right. This is usually covered by a giant set of slidey rotate-y doors, one of the which has a giant 1 in lights on it.
  • As has been suggested, it’s basically The Moment of Truth – a person has a week to learn a new skill, but in the studio they “change just one thing” to see if they can still do it. I think that’s a bit misleading really, what they actually do is set up a more practical if offbeat situation to see if they can apply what they’ve learnt.
  • There are four challengers and four games, each in a self-contained part (expect that to change by the time it makes series).
  • First contestant through the door has a chat with Bradley. Bradley makes a point that they hadn’t met before the show. The chat is amusing, and also throws jokes to people in the audience which will almost certainly get cut out. Just the contestant is featured on stage here, although friends and family are in the audience. We find out that his challenge is to learn a list of 100 words of Japanese, and if he does it he’ll win a trip to Tokyo for two. Already you might have noticed the stakes are lower than MoT, and fewer people’s dreams are on the line. Cue video diary.
  • OK, his challenge – behind the doors is a Japanese grocery store, owned by a comedy Japanese person. After a brief skit, we’re told that our hero has two minutes to find five items in the store as announced by the Japanese shopkeeper. To make things more interesting, the hero is encouraged to rummage around, knock things over and that in order to find the correct objects, some of which are hidden. If he finds four correct items out of five (and isn’t told whether the item put in the basket is correct or not), he wins. The audience are positively encouraged to shout out advice, even though nobody will know Japanese.
  • Second contestant, and this time Bradley’s in the audience because unbeknownst to one of members their husband has been practicing something all week without her knowledge. He’s been learning thirty celebrity perfumes. On stage a ballerina, a drag queen, a female weightlifter and a rugby player are on stage, and our hero must smell relevant bits (foot, neck, bicep, armpit respectively) and work out who is wearing which of the thirty scents. This took ages, they resprayed them believing that the scents might have gone off under the studio lights. Four done, a surprise fifth guest was bought out – a pig wearing a scented scarf. Four out of five right wins, although he did not succeed but didn’t go home empty handed as they could keep what remained of the perfumes. Again, this was for a holiday.
  • The pig did a poo.
  • Third contestant learned precision bullwhipping. The challenge – whilst riding a sweetcorn cob version of a bucking bronco, whip other cobs what were popping up out of the wall when she stopped moving. One of them was the Golden Cob and was worth two, and the audience shout “GOLDEN COB!” like it was Feed the Frog from Going Live. She had to get five in three minutes. Fun challenge, but felt rather imprecise. This was for a holiday for two.
  • Finally, our fourth contestant was given ten microwaves and had to recognise each make just by the sound of their ping. In the studio the Just 1 Thing orchestra play The Blue Danube, but on occasion a note is played by someone pinging a microwave. After the performance she must name the three microwaves used, for a holiday for four.
  • It strikes us quite quickly that Just 1 Thing is to The Moment of Truth what Epic Win was to You Bet – sort of a bit low rent and played with a much higher laughter quotient. Presentation wise it felt more TF1-esque than the usual ITV fare – music and looseness which is a good thing I think – but not quite there in terms of cleverness and subtlety of format.
  • Bradley’s really good – the interviews are funny and he injects a lot of comedy into the set-ups and results of the games. He says he’s not met the contestants beforehand – which I can believe – but also that he doesn’t know what’s behind the big doors until they’re revealed – which I don’t believe to be honest. There’s a card on each set with instructions he reads out, but throwaway comments off camera suggests he’s probably a bit more clued in.
  • They decorate the set for each game quite nicely, and credit to them for doing it all within a reeeeeaaasonable timeframe – it took about 3.5-4 hours to film the lot. Everyone in the audience (the suggestion was it was 500-strong) got a bag with a bottle of water in it and some chocolate at the halfway point, which was nice.
  • The games feel a bit imprecise. In particular the time-based ones seemed completely arbitrary, it seems a bit off to have a time limit in the bullwhipping game where you’re only meant to whip when the thing isn’t spinning round, and no real idea as to how long you had before spinning again. For example. Also was a bit surprised she didn’t have goggles for it.
  • Do you remember how The Moment of Truth had tension on a stick? You had to complete a tough exacting task that required a bout of intense concentration in one go on the night, and if you failed not only did you let yourself down but everyone around you? At no real point does Just 1 Thing feel particularly tense. The question is is it funny enough to make up for that fact?
  • To which the answer is possibly? Like the recent Catchphrase, it feels like a modern take on old-school entertainment and will probably do similar solid if unspectacular numbers. I think it is more successful than Dale’s Great Getaway, but I don’t think it’s qui-i-te good enough to be a massive success.

2 Comments

  1. David Howell says:

    It feels like someone went “The Moment of Truth was awesome, but the cruelty inherent in the format won’t fly in austerity Britain, how can we do the same thing without it?”

    This has “quietly occupies a weekend slot with maybe the odd complaint about it being a bit stupid, gets adequate ratings, doesn’t skew young enough for renewal” written all over it.

    Bradley Walsh is a proper draw for This Sort of Thing on ITV, mind you.

  2. Nick S Smith says:

    Successful ratings start for Your Face Sounds Familiar with a peak of 4.6m watching.

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