Show Discussion: The Button

By | April 20, 2018

Fridays, 8:30pm,

Now here’s an interesting one. Ostenably it’s Taskmaster mixed with a bit of Gogglebox, from the mind of Alex Horne of Taskmaster.

Five families each have a button installed in their house with a screen on it. At any time the button might go off. They push the button and are set a task, the same task all the other families get. Once everyone has completed, the one that did the best banks money. At the end of the show the most successful team are given the choice to walk away or risk that money for a £10,000 bonus if they win the following week – win or lose it looks like all the families can stay on until they win an episode and walk away.

The half hour evening slot feels very unusual for this sort of thing so the pacing ought to be interesting. It was always intended to be a half-hour show, although I think I heard mention that the original intention was midweek so make of that what you will.

Let us know what you think in the comments.


36 thoughts on “Show Discussion: The Button

  1. dan

    ITV is looking for people to take part in a new gameshow called Take the tower.

    “A brand new ITV game show is looking for a heroic team leader and three teammates to take on our tower and escape the clutches of an evil villain – and have the chance of winning cash prizes and a holiday.

    To Take The Tower you and your team will have to answer questions and tackle physical and mental challenges based on iconic action movies. The more questions and challenges completed, the more the prize pot of cash increases. After different fun and varied rounds on each floor of our tower featuring physical gameplay, mental puzzles and tough trivia, our hero and any freed teammates at the top of the tower face an evil villain waiting to offer a final deal – a win or lose head to head challenge with him that could result in cash and/or a holiday with the team leader and his or her teammates – or absolutely nothing at all.”

    1. David B

      That looks like it could be a really fun idea, if the challenges get enough money put into them to make them look decent. If it’s done too cheaply, it’ll come off a distant second-best to the films.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Yes I really like the sound of it. My only issue is that it sounds like the questions are going to be action film related, which is unfortunately limiting.

    2. Malcolm Owen

      There’s finally some video of the show before its launch. And it looks…. well…
      Maybe I’ll reserve judgement until I see the full show, instead of a worrying trailer.

        1. Chris M. Dickson

          I don’t think it even looks particularly cheap, other than the siren sound effect (which, I suppose, sounds rather than looks cheap). The ejection effect just about stays on the right side of funny rather than cheesy to me, but is clearly tongue in cheek.

  2. Matt Clemson

    Amazon has started releasing some of their Japanese-focussed Prime content internationally, and *possibly* Documental might just about border on ‘of interest to Bar folks’: Ten comedians, each stakes 1M Yen (about £6500), put in a room together. You get eliminated if you laugh, last one standing wins.

    Not watched it beyond the intro thus far, but it looks to be being played reasonably straight as a contest (at least, as straight as something with comedy being a core premise can); not sure how they’ll mix it up as the programme goes on.

  3. Greg

    I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this. It had a very, Gogglebox meets Taskmaster vibe. I was concerned without comedians playing for laughs it may be a bit dull, but some good casting and interesting games put my fears to rest.

    However Friday night 8:30 is the wrong day and time for this. 5:30pm Saturday is where this show should sit.

    Also 60 forks?

  4. Brig Bother Post author

    Yes I enjoyed it as well, I certainly think making people wait for hours for a thing to happen is entertainingly cruel.

    I was surprised by how fast paced the challenges were, and very much the sort of thing you’d never think about practicing, and also noted that whilst there were different ways to do a challenge they were all judgable objectively in a way Taskmaster tends to diverge from these days. Closer to The Cube than Taskmaster really.

    Clearly the £5k event is going to be the largest scale, I’m not sure I love the scoring system as it means it’s fairly likely one team will have no chance going into the final, then it feels like a bit of a waste of effort. It also remains to be seen how good the gamble is, £10,000 feels possibly £5k too low, but we’ll see.

  5. Steve Williams

    I really enjoyed the inflatables task, was brilliant fun. Obviously I was going to be well-disposed towards this cos I love Taskmaster, but I honestly really enjoyed it. I did say for ages the best way to sort out pre-watershed BBC1 would be something like Taskmaster, so I really hope this is a big, big hit. I also hope kids watching play all the tasks at home.

  6. Chris M. Dickson

    This ought to stand or fall on the strength of the challenges and tonight’s were certainly easily good enough, though some of the judgments seemed a little arbitrary – I liked the cunning solution to the first game which was disqualified, and you could definitely call the last game either way, as well. However I have a horrid suspicion that people will decide that they want to like or dislike the families, rather than focusing on the games.

    Looking forward to next week’s episode already. (I wonder how many episodes there will be, and whether non-winning teams at the end of the series will get the chance to carry over to next series or not? It would make a difference to the stay-or-go decision…)

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Also I think it will be interesting to see how far the families game it – I think production were trying to make things pretty watertight as it is, but even then people still found ways around.

    1. Callum J

      It was completely the wrong slot, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull it and put it somewhere else now.

  7. John R

    This needs to be in the ‘Ready Or Not’ slot, although I imagine the BBC meeting went ‘yeah we can compete with Gogglebox by shoving this in a Friday evening slot’

    I enjoyed it once I got into it, trying to think of ways to have an advantage without breaking the rules must be quite difficult under pressure. The fork challenge seemed a bit mean though, there wasn’t really a obvious strategy there to ensure you came second.

    I was super impressed by the fact one of the families featuring literally lives a 5 minute walk from my house! Although I initially thought it would be different families each week other than the rollover family.

  8. David B

    I liked it for what it was, but thought the challenges were just a little underpowered. “Go and get some forks”, “Bounce a pingpong ball” and “Say the alphabet backwards” aren’t really primetime scale. I did really like the inflatables challenge and wished there was a bit more of that wackiness in there. I would even be prepared to drop one family if it made the production easier.

  9. Jonathan

    It’s quite fun, this. Not big flagship Friday night, some of the challenges could be a bit bigger and more exciting, but it’s a change around from smashing eggs to getting 80 people in to the house. Families are very well cast, too.

  10. Brig Bother Post author

    1.5m yesterday.

    On the one hand, it’s rating terribly. On the other hand it’s gone up every week. Could it end as a sleeper hit by episode 8?

  11. Kniwt

    It’s still an unexpectedly fun show … however, I was slightly dismayed to find that contestant Alfie Garston is actually a somewhat experienced actor and presenter, hoping for his big break:

    Perhaps he’s a little more well-known than in America (not at all), but it kind of deflates the notion of these being “just plain folks” playing the game.

  12. Chris M. Dickson

    I’m continuing to get quite a lot from this; the graphics are charming and better than they need to be, and the show has a certain sort of sweetness to it that is rarely found. I don’t think the games have been selected to favour any one family in practice, but I think it could be possible to come up with a set of games that happened to play to one family’s perceived existing strengths. (Though whether they would actually live up to their potential or not would remain to be seen!) That said people will find conspiracy theories if they want to, even when the show explicitly provides mitigating factors like the A-or-B choice in the Final Chase.

    Oddly I think that Alex Horne as the voice of the Button might be marginally the weakest part. Some of the banter with the families has been sassy and witty and some of it has taken flat. Response to the contestants has to be an improv show at heart, and a certain one-note sort of improv show at that; might it be better for the Button to have two voices in season two, like the multiple Big Brothers, so whoever has the better line at any one time can respond as the voice?

    1. John R

      One thing I would like to know is do the producers knock up certain tasks very close to actually giving them out, for example the past couple of weeks we’ve had the egg challenge where some of the families have just used all their eggs making dinner, same again this week with the rice challenge…

  13. Matt Clemson

    Weirdly, they stuck on a repeat of Friday’s after the news after Eurovision. It got just shy of a million just after midnight, too.

  14. Nico W.

    I love this show! It’s been a long time since I have catched up with anything that required the dark arts to watch, but this show is brilliant. To me it screams children’s television (e.g. in Ki.Ka in Germany), but apart from that it’s a warm show with attention to detail (like original music and great graphics) and no spiteful feelings between the contestantss. It’s great!

  15. John R

    Week 1 I said to my friend “Have you seen The Button?’

    ‘That sounds a bit naff’

    Yesterday ‘I think that Button show is brilliant!’

    The ratings are dire but this is costing the Beeb pence to make, as everyone keeps gambling!

  16. Kniwt

    After watching Alfie’s grandfather [redacted] tonight, I’m growing increasingly curious about how massive the rule book must be for this show. Do house guests have to be pre-approved by the production company before they can play? (They certainly have to sign releases, etc.) If a family wins with a guest present, does the guest legally get a share of the money? What if a guest doesn’t want to play?

    And, um, what if a contestant is on the loo when the button goes red? In 30 challenges x 5 families x 2-6 people per family, that’s a lot of chances for people to be taking care of their business at an inopportune time.

    Seriously, I’m enjoying the show a lot … and that’s why I’m thinking so much about all the work that obviously went into making it.

  17. Chris M. Dickson

    This maintained its quality and variety to the end of the series, with an exciting conclusion. I’m getting what I wanted from The Crystal Maze from this show instead, which feels really unlikely, but is a welcome surprise. The games are by and large just swervy enough to have a bit of game to them, even if some of the judging feels occasionally arbitrary (see Weaver on fairness and justice, 2010 et al). By and large I liked the families, though families who displayed hubris by gambling and losing were easier to root against. I tended to prefer people who took the game seriously and put effort into playing it thoughtfully and well.

    If the old saw is that every show should “do one thing wrong”, the real place where this show… maybe doesn’t innovate but certainly does deviate from the norm is the variety of ages in the teams, which is quite a daring thing to play with to the extent that they did. The BBC have pretty strict guidelines about treating children with dignity in their shows, especially those young enough to be less emotionally developed, and I’m not sure that this stressful environment of moderately high stakes, a moderately long day and some degree of loss of agency didn’t sail close to the wind from time to time; it’s notable that the one occasion of tears shown on screen was not at losing but that they wouldn’t get to play any more because they’d won and taken the money.

    Fingers crossed for a second series, ideally with a less irritating typeface… However, if the numbers just weren’t enough to convince in the end, I suspect history will treat this kindly.

    1. Matt Clemson

      I’m encouraged that they didn’t cut out the “I’m looking for new families” bit, at least.

      I actually don’t begrudge the teams that showed hubris, actually, because I’ve got a strong impression that many had a ton of fun – the tears incident you mentioned highlighted it a lot. The times I was mildly annoyed were when teams weren’t in the mood – see the earliest appearances of the Uttleys, who didn’t seem all for it, and the Garstons when the son was being particularly grumpy (although I did like how that resulted in The Button joking with the mother)

      It deserves a second series, and it deserves a timeslot where people could find it. I’ve heard people suggest pairing it with Doctor Who or Strictly, and I’d love to see how that works out, but I don’t think they can justify it on its current performance.

    2. David B

      Regarding the use of children, the key factor is whether they are “under direction”. If they happen to be in the house where there is a camera, but otherwise have free reign to do what they want in the house, that doesn’t count towards the restrictions. Since some of the tasks are very short, and they are not required to be in the room with the Button (since other family members can take watch), there is no problem.


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