I’ve spent Friday afternoon and evening watching new Remarkable BBC2 quiz Two Tribes with Richard Osman. In my head it worked a certain way, the reality is actually a bit more interesting up to a point.
- The set is round. Osman stands back to audience, the stage is dominated by two large desks, one with YES written on it and the other NO, in the Million Pound Drop font. There’s space for all seven contestants to stand between the desks, and above the back of the stage is a large screen.
- We are not privy to the theme tune however if you’re expecting a riff on Frankie Goes to Hollywood you are likely to be disappointed, the incidental music we heard was a jolly saxophone thing.
- Before the show all seven take a questionnaire with as many as 400 different statements that can be answered “yes” or “no” such as “I believe in fate” and “I am a risk taker” and “I’m cleverer than my partner” – the sort of thing that invites a bit of comment. These are flashed up on the big screen and it will stop on a question.
- The contestants are then divided into two tribes – those who answered yes and those who answered no. The reveal for this could be a bit better, as it is it’s just Richard reading the names out. Then there’s a little dance whilst everyone makes their way to the relevant desk.
- There is a bit of Richard Osman Jovial Banter (TM) with each contestant which can be cut to the relevant length. Then the quiz begins.
- Each tribe will face sixty seconds of general knowledge questions. A question is asked to each member in turn. If they get it wrong or pass it’s passed down to the next member down the line until someone gets it correct or it turns out nobody knows it. If the former everyone’s back in play and the next person in line takes a question. If it stumps the whole team then the round ends there and then so every question carries a certain jeopardy. Richard will often refer to “saving the tribe” to the last person to answer a question.
- Repeat with the other team. Using your mathematical brain you may have worked out that one team has the advantage of extra numbers. They put it down to the show being as much about personalities as it is about quiz, which I think under the circumstances is reasonable enough, although it might lead to questions about manipulation of tribe selection question. As it is the tribe of three can and do win – I suppose if there is one person holding up a team it will get round to them quicker, and as it stands there’s no way for someone to dominate a round too much.
- The winning tribe get to go straight back to the middle. The losing tribe must face off in a quickfire showdown – a correct answer puts you through, a wrong answer eliminates you and being the last person to give a right answer also eliminates you. Thusly good people get a chance to save themselves if they’re quick on the draw but also run the risk of buzzing too early and eliminating themselves.
- I don’t know what happens in the event of a tie, presumably a buzzer question.
- Rinse and repeat twice more but split the contestants up along different tribal lines. The round of three vs two feels a little bit more unfair. Your mileage will vary as to how much this matters or not.
- At the final four the game changes a bit, certainly for the less interesting. They are split up two vs two and now the first team to get five questions correct on the buzzer wins. The losing tribe go home, “no second chances”.
- And then we come to the final and rather disappointingly it’s a 60 second chess clock quiz – a mechanic we used to love when we first encountered it, but I find myself getting increasingly ambivalent towards. At least this starts on a buzzer question to determine whose clock counts down first, which is logical and fair.
- Except for no discernable reason every 45 seconds or so Osman will stop the game for a quick chat. It’s completely unnecessary – it’s certainly not played at the most hi-octane pace and it doesn’t inject drama into the proceedings. You could have used that time to have split the last two along a tribal line and got some comedy out of it (they’re just at opposite desks at the start of this round).
- Whoever doesn’t run out of time is the winner and they win £1,000. EXCEPT not in cash money, they have to pick one of two categories of things they’re going to spend the money on (like “travel” or “gadgets”). A grand in vouchers basically.
- Osman is accomplished as host. It’s his first time hosting on his own, although seeing he’s been a producer for X years he should have a good idea of what’s required.
- And thusly we come to the conclusion. There are formats we like and there are shows that are successful. It’s great when the two overlap, ultimately it’s the former that’s interesting and the latter that’s important. Two Tribes is an OK format. I think it gets less successful at what it sets out to do towards the end. However there are two things that give it a good chance of success – first it’s Richard Osman firing off lots of general knowledge questions (about 80 I reckon) and doing Jovial Banter and the second is it’s a light general knowledge quiz that’s being parachuted into the BBC2 early evening slot. I don’t know whether it will be replacing Eggheads or going on after it (it’s due to start in September), and obviously if it’s a replacement we hope for a Richard Madeley style “and I’ll see you on Two in just a minute!” shenanigans at the end of Pointless. The host, style and timeslot are a perfect fit and if it was hosted by someone else or put in a different timeslot I don’t think it would be successful, but in a world where production people and commissioners make seemingly dumb decisions all the time it would be churlish not to point out that as it stands actually this might be a very savvy one. For me it’s too light a quiz to watch more than occasionally, but there’s a sizeable audience for this sort of thing at that sort of time, and at half an hour won’t outstay its welcome, so.
- And of course we have to point out that FOTB Dan Peake is one of the question writers on the show. He should probably get a raise.
- Incidentally it took about three hours to film two episodes, the second one dragged a bit because of technical problems and the like, the audience were treated well.
If you have questions I’m happy to field them.