Show Discussion: Head Hunters

By | October 6, 2019

Weekdays, 2:15pm,

Well we’ve had quiz business politicking with The Boss, now Rob Beckett is hoping his new quiz will be employed a little bit longer.

Contestants must try and win a rolling jackpot at the end of the show by getting nine questions correct. To help them, they can build a team from a returning pool of contestants who will answer questions based on the categories that will come up in the end game. If they can impress, they might be worth luring down by making an offer to split some of the jackpot if they go on to win. Knowledge, tactics and negotiation is the key.

It’s a bit The Boss, a bit the end bit of Perfection, a bit Sell Me The Answer. But will it be a bit good? Let us know what you think in the comments.

16 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Head Hunters

  1. Tom H

    Format as follows:

    20 players start the game in the Talent Pool. Three of them are made Head Hunters via a series of qualifying questions posed before the show (not one for the transparency fans). There’s some introductory chat, and we’re shown today’s nine categories and the starting jackpot of £1,000.

    A multiple choice question is thrown out to the Talent Pool. Whoever answers it correctly in the fastest time goes on to face the Head Hunters as The Candidate. Each Head Hunter in turn chooses a category for The Candidate – who’s given three questions (worth £50, £100 and £150 respectively). If they get it right, they add the money to the jackpot. If not, the question is thrown to the Head Hunters on the buzzer to try to boost the jackpot themselves. No penalties for wrong answers.

    Once The Candidate has faced three categories (i.e. nine questions), the Head Hunters offer them a stake of the jackpot to come and join their team for the subsequent rounds – the thinking being it’s better to have strength in numbers. In “Defectors” style, The Candidate makes a 10-second pitch for the money before we see the offers. We’re then shown some stats on how the Head Hunters performed in a pre-show general knowledge quiz, so The Candidate can make an informed choice. There’s then a second round of offers, before The Candidate picks their team.

    Rinse and repeat for two more contestants from The Talent Pool.

    We then go into a head-to-head round. Each team has five lives, and will pick a category for a rival team to answer. As in the opening rounds, there are three questions – so get all three wrong, and you’re down to two lives. The team in play then chooses a category for another team, and we keep going until there’s only one team left.

    In the final – named ‘Seal The Deal’ – the winning team must answer one question from each of the nine categories correctly in 90 seconds. They split the jackpot according to their agreed stakes if they win – if they don’t, the jackpot rolls onto the next show. Seemingly all unsuccessful players come back the next day, too.

    I thought the show was…OK. It didn’t drag particularly, although having the Head Hunters make two offers feels a bit unnecessary. Questions were fairly well-written, but could have been broader – two questions in one show on Speakers of the House of Commons felt a bit much. The final also seemed a bit hard – nine questions in 90 seconds is very tight when a) you’ve got teammates conferring and b) Rob is reading out categories and wrong answers as well.

    The set was much larger than I was expecting – complete with tiered seating for the Talent Pool. Some of the fonts were very ugly (particularly the one used on the category board) and the music – by Banks and Wag – was forgettable.

    I’d say Rob Beckett was probably the biggest disappointment. I thought he did a good job on All Together Now, but missed having a live audience to bounce off here (in an interesting production decision, there’s very little canned applause/laughter, making the whole thing feel a bit cavernous). He’s not the world’s best question reader either, and got into a bad habit of saying “fair enough” to contestants when he didn’t have a witty retort up his sleeve.

    That said, it’s not a terrible format, and I’d probably watch it again if I stumbled on it.

    1. Harry

      I agree with you that it’s an alright format. Rob unfortunately can’t read questions very well but maybe he’ll get better with time. However I felt the talent pool parts of the show were executed very poorly. We’re yet to meet 14 members of the pool and they received pretty much no air time. Compared to the (slightly) similar Impossible we can’t really track a player who’s there but never does well enough.

      The selection of contestants seemed lacking in transparency. While it makes sense it’s a bit confusing that three people are selected to be the head hunters by one set of questions and then there’s another set of questions that has given them all their percentages for the show. Also when selecting a candidate the format feels a bit lacking. Maybe two or three questions and you have to get them all right in the fastest time may fit a little better.

      It all felt a bit rushed really. Key parts of the rules were explained in voiceover rather than to the contestants so it felt like we kept coming away from the game. Even the final was explained and started without much build up. For instance we’re not told what the contestants might spend the money on etc. I do wonder if it would work better in a slightly longer slot but I guess we won’t know.

  2. Tom H

    Also, I’m not sure how I feel about pseudo-public figures being cast in a civilian show. One of today’s Head Hunters was a well-known figure at Money Saving Expert with 15,000 Twitter followers, but described himself – in a very understated way – as a ‘blogger about coupons’.


  3. Brig Bother Post author

    I echo a lot of the comments here, I think it’s quite a good game (I think the symbiotic element works quite well) but goodness me they’ve gone out of their way to feel a bit unappealing.

    That opening feels far too sharp. I have little doubt that it’s fair, I think a cold open jumping straight to a qualifying question, identifying the three winners and then going into the titles would have a better feel.

    Agree that the category font is *uniquely terrible*.

    I really quite like the half-question style of questions which were pretty well written. I don’t understand why the Candidate cash tally and Head Hunter tally are totalled separately when they all go into the same pot. I don’t think there is a clear *enough* reason for the HHs to answer on the buzzer if the candidate gets it wrong. Sure, it makes them look slightly better, but I suspect in the grand scheme of things it’s not going to count much towards choosing a teammate as a) their quiz score statistic and b) who else is already on a team.

    Speaking of statistics – urgh, percentage figures on tables are a no no. Putting them above figures of money is a doubly bad look as they don’t correlate to each other. Maths maths maths, you need to hide maths and procedure wherever possible in light ent – sad but true, even if it’s not really maths, just looks like maths.

    Agree that the final feels too tight, questions slightly too long and take too long to resolve. It doesn’t feel impossible, which is good, but also it’s pretty clear if they’re going to win or not quite early, and if ten questions is the average we’ll know not to get too excited if they get more than two wrong on the first pass.

    I hope you’re not thrown out of the talent pool once you’ve won something, I get the feeling it wouldn’t be worth putting effort in until the jackpot reaches five figures. The returning contestants aspect *might* be quite good, “scores to settle and debts to pay” and all that, but given the other fourteen contestants might as well have not been there it’s difficult to get excited about right now. !mpossible does a much better job of picking out the characters in a fairly natural way which Head Hunters doesn’t quite have the capacity for at this stage.

    So… it’s only episode one and opinions can change, right now I think it’s a fairly clever game that’s not quite ready for primetime, probably not quite ready for series two yet either, looks too “maths” and too formatty to succeed. But I don’t hate it or anything. Can’t say I felt bored.

    1. Brandon

      I agree the statistics really don’t need to be on show all the time, makes it look too complicated. Imagine what Weakest Link would look like if the contestant statistics were on the podiums all the time. Maybe Head Hunters should take a leaf out of that show’s book and only give us the relevant statistics when we need them.

  4. Harry F

    I was at a recording of this and it seems like they’ve cut a lot from it.

    The headhunters were originally picked at the start of the show via a fastest finger question but this has been cut with the voice over telling us which players were chosen instead.

    A lot of Rob’s banter has also gone. I’m guessing this was to fit in the other rounds, especially the one with the 5 lives as that went on for a long time. I’m guessing this also means that some of the backstory and story of the other players has gone too?

    Not sure how many recordings had been done by the time I got there, but Rob had certainly got the questions in the final round down a lot better than this episode.

    1. Brandon

      My first thought when I saw this is that they need to cut out a round as Pointless did for its second series, but I can’t see a way to do that and still make the format work. Its the opposite of the usual problem where most shows feel overly padded.

  5. David B

    Clearly either their slot was suddenly shortened, or they needed at least two more run-throughs for timings. There’s quite a lot of heavy-lifting going on throughout, which doesn’t translate easily into fun times. In the end game, if you get even a couple wrong, there’s not going to be enough time to get a second try.

    1. David B

      Oh, and I don’t see how they’ve avoided the old “jab A, B, C or D at random” issue (a la Series 1 of Millionaire) when picking the next recruit via a multiple choice question.

    2. Daniel H

      Yes, it certainly seems that they recorded the qualifying questions as a “proper round” then had to edit it out as the whole show took too long! It’s not ideal, as you could argue that becoming a Head Hunter is one of the key “rounds!” It decides who will be playing for the biggest stake in the prize and we haven’t seen it!

      I’d be surprised if the slot was shortened as there aren’t really any BBC hour-long quizzes, unless this was planned to be an outlier.

      The Head to Head (to Head!) round is also an interesting one, as if people keep getting questions right it could go on “forever.” Indeed, on today’s show, 2 teams made it through all 9 categories with 1 life remaining each, so after all that they just had another Fastest Finger question to determine which team went through to the Final!

    1. Brandon

      I think it’s supposed to be only winnable with an absolutely perfect performance like the final of a few Spanish shows. It’s just not a style were used to in this country though.

  6. Harry F

    They finally had a winner on Monday. Giles, who was making his first appearance as a HH ended up in the head to head with no candidates. He was able to sit back for a bit whilst the other two teams that were full went at each other. He ended up surviving, picking up a couple of players from either team and then cruising the final round splitting over £10k with his team. I’m not sure if the final round questions have been made easier or Rob has just got better as reading them out because they had a good amount of seconds left at the end.

    However watching it yesterday it seems only the HH leaves the show, not the whole team, whilst the jackpot then gets reset to £1000. Surely from a player perspective you never want to be a HH as you stand more chance of taking home more money if you constantly get to become a candidate and try to pick up cash amounts across the whole series rather than the lump sum you get from being the HH.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Yes that was a worry I think, that it’s not in your best interests to put effort in until the jackpot gets big if you have to leave after winning it.


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