Snow Discussion: Very Hard Questions

By | February 19, 2020

Wednesdays, 8pm and 10pm
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Here’s a show that sets its stall out quickly: C4 newsreader Jon Snow’s here and he’s going to be asking some very hard questions. For an hour.

Two teams will be battling it out in what looks like a single-elimination knockout tournament for a trophy (if the advert is anything to go by).

They’re bigging up the questions, so we’re intrigued to see if they’re actually as difficult as they say they are, and if they are is it still fun and entertaining? Say what you like about Only Connect, but the creativity on show with regards to the questions still makes it an intriguing watch even if you don’t know the answers. I hope it’s not just Slow University Challenge.

I won’t be able to watch the first ones live, so I’m interested in your thoughts, do leave them in the comments.

39 thoughts on “Snow Discussion: Very Hard Questions

  1. CeleTheRef

    Yesteday Sonic The Hedgehog showed up on the Italy’s Identity 🙂 waiting for the Mario movie now…

      1. CeleTheRef

        The correct identity was “It’s a space guy”. The contestant didn’t waste a clue on this one.

        The entire thing was a bit awkward: Amadeus had to assist Sonic in walking around because the person (a girl) inside the costume couldn’t see much. Some of the voice actor’s speech was drown by the music cues.

  2. Anon

    I did not like this. At all.

    For a start, the seven (SEVEN!) lifelines are amazingly clunky to explain.

    I’m crying for the question writers, for whom tons of material is simply not even getting on screen. Think of the hours wasted on unneeded picture and audio research.

    With all the text on screen, it’s amazing that they couldn’t find space for the question value or the answer.

    The problem with hard questions is that they need to pique interest, but I’m fairly sure most people didn’t give a toss to the answers.

    Jon’s as much fun as an undertaker in a thunderstorm, and doesn’t bring anything to the show beyond reading out a ton of stuff.

    1. Anon

      Rejected VHQ lifelines:

      Random Dictionary Page
      Ask The Floor Manager
      The Answer in Hebrew
      Jon’s Gargle Challenge
      Saucy Rebus
      Missing Consonants (TM)
      Mime Artist
      Does Jon Snow Know?
      Ouija Board Séance
      Wordy Whack-a-Mole
      Vic and Bob’s Sketcharama
      Slow-loading 90s Internet Page
      Inaccurate Anagram
      Grayson Perry Interpretive Artwork
      Let’s Go Down The Pub

    2. David

      If you think seven lifelines were a lot, there was a show in France a few years back called Avec ou sans joker that had 18 of them (some of them pretty similar to the ones here….here’s a translation of them)

      The other question: another question with the answer identical to the initial question is asked.
      The mouth: it pronounces the answer without emitting sound, it is necessary to read on the lips.
      Mental calculation: a calculation is presented and, once solved, gives a result which corresponds to the correct answer.
      A chance on …: several proposals (between 2 and 6) are displayed on the screen, one of them is the correct answer.
      The song: the title of the song broadcast is the same as the expected response.
      Clones: a woman appears, gives her clue then is cloned twice, which allows her to reveal two other clues.
      The clown: he mimics the right answer.
      The cook: he gives the ingredients for a recipe related to the correct answer.
      The fairy: the first and last letters of the answer are revealed.
      Eraser: the answer appears on the screen, partly erased.
      The surprise guest: a personality appears and reveals a clue.
      The letter machine: the letters of the answer are given out of order.
      The magician: he reveals clues to the answer.
      The index word: a word related to the expected answer appears.
      Do you speak it : the answer is given in a foreign language.
      The photo: the answer is illustrated by a photograph.
      The sage: he gives clues to the answer.
      The clairvoyant: the clairvoyant provides some clues to the answer.

      (Anyway I thought this was decent- not groundbreaking, but decent)

        1. Andrew Sullivan

          Tried an embed, looks like it didn’t work. You can still go watch the video by clicking the link.

          1. Chris M. Dickson

            Thanks for that – much more manageable than I thought. I feared that the contestants would get to choose one of the 18 different jokers, which would need explaining; the automatic selection of the joker beyond the contestant’s control makes sense and does add a sense of variety to proceedings.

            I would almost certainly watch at least one episode of a comedy quiz played for laughs with deliberately crap lifelines.

  3. J

    Well it’s perfectly serviceable, but not much more than that. The questions are somewhat interesting, but there’s a lot of information to keep in your head, with past clues disappearing once a new one is selected. Jon Snow doesn’t come across as a natural quiz show host, repeatedly interrupting teams to remind them that a question is worth 4 points.

    Also, having two teams on at the same time is only really used in the final question. It doesn’t matter if you’re ahead of the other team, since all that matters is your position on the leaderboard. It made for somewhat of an anticlimax. Later on in the series I’m sure we’ll see “well you beat the other team but you’re still out. Bye!”

  4. Scott Rux

    I’ll let everyone else sift through their opinions on the show. But a friend and I both noted something in the format.

    How many quiz shows have the host “confirm” the answer out loud with someone else judging.
    “For 4 points, is Sausage correct?” *beat* *beat* *green light*
    This is separate from the traditional answer/response: “Sausage?” “Correct!”

    I think most shows do the latter, for speed, so we’re trying to think of shows that add tension by adding in those extra beats. So far, we think it’s:
    * Millionaire
    * the Head-to-Head round of The Chase
    * Pointless, usually
    * Family Fortunes
    * Tenable

    I can’t think of too many other successful quizzes that do this, compared to the other kind.

    1. J

      Tipping Point, The Wall, !mpossible… I think it’s quite a common device now and you’ve named some of the most successful shows of the 21st century there!

      1. Scott Rux

        Maybe I’m in the wrong generation. 🙂

        For whatever reason, I thought they were mostly trying to aim for the Only Connect, University Challenge, Mastermind, The Chase sort of thing. Those are of the regular kind.

        If they are trying to counter The Wall and Impossible (and other shows of that time), I may need to adjust my evaluation.

    2. Brandon

      I think there’s a bid difference between the type of tense reveal used in Millionaire and the head to head of the Chase, and what happens in Tipping Point and the Wall which just feels like an awkward delay. The difference is I whether or not the host has the correct answer in front of them. It makes sense why Danny doesn’t in the Wall because the question is just being displayed on the big screen, but I don’t understand why Tipping Point feels like Ben doesn’t have the right answer highlighted in front of him, it should appear on his screen after it’s been locked in like Millionaire.

  5. Clive Of Legend

    A perfectly enjoyable way to spend an hour, but a disappointment to all of us who had “Jon Snow’s Very Hard Watch” lined up.

    Could do with a bit more pace, wouldn’t have minded if all rounds had been against the clock but it just avoided dragging. I would have been perfectly happy to believe Mr. Snow recorded all his bits in a different room weeks later if they hadn’t shown him on screen with the contestants, added nothing to the show which is a bit of a shame.

    Set and music, like nearly every other show that comes along these days, were fine. I don’t understand this obsession with tiny, barely perceptible buzzers but I can’t argue with the trend.

    1. Kniwt

      It sure seems like the end-of-show score recaps were indeed “recorded in a different room weeks later”; I got the distinct impression that the episodes aren’t necessarily aired in the order in which they were recorded, but have been placed in a particular order after the fact, presumably for maximum suspense / tension / whatever.

      But yes, as so many others are saying, I probably won’t be sticking around to the end. I was going to say “it has the play-along value of Only Connect but with none of the fun,” but even Only Connect is more fun to play along with, because it’s Very Interesting Questions, not Very Hard Questions. And after seeing Mr Snow so many times on Big Fat Quiz, I was expecting a more … animated performance from him.

  6. Brig Bother Post author

    Saying “it’s not for me” is a bit of a cop-out, but there we are. I can see serious quizzers quite enjoying it but I can’t see it picking up casuals. And maybe they’re alright with that.

    I quite liked the way the clues worked, although as the Anon comment suggests the amount of wasted material is giving me heart palpitations considering it.

    I thought Jon Snow was fine, although he completely killed the scripted jokes. Unless that is the joke, which is quite left field and very Channel 4.

    It’s not as smug as Only Connect, but it’s not as interesting and entertaining either. I probably won’t bother tuning in again, but I can understand if you might.

  7. Des Elmes

    I can’t help but be reminded of another C4 general knowledge quiz hosted by another C4 newsreader.

    Was this really nearly twenty years ago now? Shit.

  8. Alex McMillan

    From watching the first two episodes, I’m pretty sure I’m the exact target audience for this show. The questions usually start as quite dry, but I think the gameplay essentially being working your way to an educated guess using the lifelines smorgasbord is really enjoyable. An hour is ambitious though, could likely benefit from being a half hour and cutting the first two round down a bit.

    Love ‘The Hardest Question’ end game, too.

  9. Cliff

    Loved the questions, like the format. Dislike the 1980s Super Channel production values and the lifeless host. This really needs someone a bit like, say, Victoria Coren-Mitchell to make it fly. But who?

          1. Des Elmes

            Richard Osman’s Very Hard Questions, surely?

            If it had to be a woman, Claudia Winkleman would be my first choice – although Anna Richardson isn’t a bad suggestion at all. Not sure it would work well with Davina, however – I don’t think it’s fluffy enough.

  10. Gyrosope

    I don’t enjoy watching University Challenge because I can’t answer the questions.
    I enjoy watching Only Connect because I can’t answer the questions.

    Unfortunately for me, VHC fell into the first category rather than the second.

    1. gyroscope

      Also, as Ready Steady Cook makes a return to UK TV, RTL are trying something similar with the 30 minute ‘Henssler’s Countdown’ which is hosted by Steffan Henssler and three amateur chefs have 25 mins to prepare the same dish before being judged by a Michelin starred guest chef judge. The twist being, Henssler throws in a silly challenge each day, such as them having to wear oven gloves the whole time which are stiched together, or only being able to use a penknife, or having all the pots and pans still in their original packaging, or the meat being still frozen, or having to mix the dough in a giant bowl with a giant whisk or…. well you get the idea…. It’s 2500 for a win, with three questions asked during the cooking which give you a chance to top your pot up to 4000 if you win. Not sure its set the ratings alight however, though someone might know more.

  11. Will Stephen

    As mentioned the waste in clues for each question is staggering, but I’ve enjoyed the past two episodes. It should’ve been knockout format though, doing high scores in these sort of quizzes never seems fair.

  12. Brig Bother Post author

    Probably worth pointing out for casual readers that the Writing Wastage isn’t something an audience is going to notice or appreciate, and so in that sense doesn’t really matter, but it *is* something us production nerds are going to remark upon.

  13. Brig Bother Post author

    Appears to be another double bill this coming Wednesday at 8pm and 10. Aren’t there only five episodes?

    Edit: Ten, which gives the strategy more sense.

    1. Thomas Sales

      When I checked the schedule on Wednesday, at 10pm on the 26th was a repeat of Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes. They’ve obviously changed the schedule since.

  14. jon

    They have aimed at the Only Connect type show and failed miserably.

    The problem is the questions are exceedingly dry and very dull.
    Only Connect does questions brilliantly, so even though you don’t know the answers you’re still interested.

    Missed opportunity.

  15. Brekkie

    Maybe nobody else noticed, or maybe it’s too obvious to even mention, but I at least will tip my hat.


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