Crikey, we haven’t done one of these for a while, so join us at Television Centre as Stephen Mulhern challenges three celeb/civilian teams to win thousands of pounds by playing a giant coin rolling machine.
As we always say with pilots – we don’t know how it will edit – it might end up looking really slick, there may well be format changes between pilot and commission.
- The machine looks really good actually, 5m x 8m, large conveyor belt with a coin shooter on one side and a big board on the other, split into ten lanes and room for a question above. My only issue with it is that they should probably find some way to lower the side closest to the audience as the angle is too shallow to see over the barrier. Three podiums stage left, Mulhern’s in the middle, lots of light-up pastel arches anywhere. Yes it looks a bit like the Tipping Point set rotated through ninety degrees, but there we are.
- First round is a speed round. Values on each of the lanes range from £500 to £1,000. Mulhern shoots a coin (the mechanism pivots left and right and coins launch down when a button is pushed) and whichever lane it lands in is the value of each answer. All show the two end lanes are “roll again” lanes for some reason, good telly they will not make and they’re likely to be edited out anyway so not quite sure of the point of them. It’s not like an arcade roller where the idea is to land a coin wholly between lines to win, there are buckets and dividers at the end of each lane so each coin will fall somewhere.
- Each pair of contestants gets a Top Ten list to fill and thirty seconds, scoring the Mulhern derived value for each correct answer. The machine isn’t used again until everyone’s done a question, which seems like a The Edge-style waste.
- The main game is played over fifteen multiple choice questions. Each lane is given a value from £500 to £2,500 and one a 1/2 (halving your bank). The team with the lowest score (IIRC) begins and rolls a coin down the lane with all the skill and strategy they can muster. If it lands in a money space the team have to answer a question to claim the money. If it lands on a penalty it’s paid immediately and the next team comes up.
- The questions are three-way multiple choice and pretty tough actually, it didn’t feel like they got a great deal right all night. I ponder if letting teams avoid a penalty by getting a question right would give a second moment of dramatic tension. If they get the question right they win the money and have the option of playing again or passing to the next team. Wrong answer means no money and losing control to the next team.
- But hark! Every three questions (and before the final question) a loud siren goes off and the board changes increasing in both value and risk. Top values on the board go as high as £25,000 before the final question. Also gradually added to the board are lose money and Bankrupts. Steal spaces also appear. This ratcheting up of the stakes works quite well. BUT, there’s a weird feeling in the early stages that they’ve earned very decent money in the Top 10 round but it’s not until the second or third board state they’re earning comparable, so it tends to feel like a slow start to the main game, especially as the questions are quite difficult. Secondly, later on there’s less money lanes than penalty and steal lanes which means there’s a real chance of the dreaded Thwarted Accumulation that makes shows frustrating to watch.
- The machine in action is certainly a sight to behold, and they’ve made the coin going over a lip at the bottom of the chute to give it some unpredictability – it almost certainly won’t shoot straight. In fact the coin acts in almost balletic way quite a lot of the time. It somehow manages to be a) quite exciting but after twenty goes b) not exciting enough. It’s not like Tipping Point and its natural board states to cause intrigue, this is a series of discrete events, it’s just a way of selecting the value or otherwise of a question even if on a deeper level that’s basically the same thing. Apparently with enough practice you can land it in whatever lane you want. To answer your other question: there are flaps for people behind the scenes to pick up the coins in the buckets so they don’t have to stop tape.
- The questions count down from 15 to 1 which is quite odd and feels a bit overthought. You’re going to confuse a lot of slower viewers by suggesting the first question is “Question 15”.
- The top scoring team get the chance to win the money, the losers go home empty handed. For some reason they played out the final question even though there was no chance of changing the result from it. The idea that the losers go home with nothing wasn’t suggested but it is rather implied by the fact the winner has to win their bank in the final game, so I look forward to getting tonnes of hits from people Googling “do losers get to keep the money” in future, and posts on Digital Spy suggesting it’s better to finish second as you don’t have to then re-win the money that way. Thanks Syco!
- The final, Bankroll, works thusly: Team gets sixty seconds to answer questions. Each right answer turns a lane into a win, wrong answers or passes a lose. However if they still have time after filling eight lanes, they can turn a lose into a win with any subsequent correct answers. Where one golden coin lands determines whether they walk with the money or not.
- It certainly has the look and feel of an established Sunday 7pm show. The civilian contestants are “characters” (God knows how they’re going to edit tonight’s show), the celebs on the Chris Kamara level, the prize potential is decent, it has Stephen Mulhern. It has issues, some that are easily remedied and some more that are a bit more structural. It’s a pity the coin roller isn’t a round in a larger show, I ponder if it will sustain a series on its own. Still, though.
- Pleasingly quite a fast and smooth recording, just over two hours from start to end.