Show Discussion: Lightning

By | January 25, 2021

Weekdays, 6:30pm,

Hot on the heels on being my favourite contestant on Survivor 20 years ago, Zoe Lyons finally gets that reality cash-in gig hosting the rather striking looking new quiz Lightning for BBC2.

Contestants need to answer questions and complete physical challenges against a pass-the-bomb style clock to avoid being struck by lightning and possibly win up to £3,000.

WILL IT BE ELECTRIFYING or is it just Bother’s Bar non-favourite Face the Clock in a warmer studio? Let us know what you think in the comments.

47 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Lightning

  1. Cliff

    A decent, fast-paced, question-heavy quiz that’s been slightly generously (given how ordinary it is) given an almost-primetime slot.

    I wasn’t expecting the ball game in the middle, but it’s good for breaking up what would otherwise be a repetitive format. It’s also surprising to see a game that requires everyone to touch the same piece of equipment (the series was shot in August 2020), unless editing just makes it look like that and it was actually a very stop-start section of the recording with lots of sanitising every few seconds!

    Talking of the editing, the cutaways to other contestants during the rounds looks a little suspicious, but I can’t imagine what they’d be trying to cover up, so it’s probably just bad editing.

    Maybe it’s just that the contestants look a bit awkward anyway, standing on their circles throughout with no podium or anything to lean or rest on. And today’s finalist liked hilariously bored at having to walk up the unexciting cash path to reach his prize.

    But it’s a good addition to BBC2’s teatime schedule, and I’ll definitely be doing the House of Games/Lightning double bill every day.

    1. Fj

      The biggest load of crap on TV . If anyone gets the £3000 if will be a miracle

  2. CliveOfLegend

    Poor. Face the Clock v2.0 but without even a cash reward to make the early questions matter. Rounds were far too long and questions far too wordy for there to be any sort of intensity, and the endgame is a nice idea but utterly devoid of excitement at the current pace. Set and music were both fine, but hardly likely to go down as classics.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Breaks my heart that I didn’t love this as several FOTBs have worked on it but this is roughly where I am with it and I died a little inside when I saw it had a chess clock final. And I know they’re just coming off the top of the pack but it must hurt to see your opponent get something really easy and you get something 10+ letters.

      The other thing for me is that the physical challenge round especially had the feel of an eighties sketch show gameshow pisstake, afraid to say. I think it was running to and from the apparatus.

      I think the end game is a decent point of the format but much like the rest of the show, the questioning doesn’t have the speed and intensity this sort of thing requires – to win you effectively have to get eighteen questions right out of 16, it feels like.

      I thought the music throughout would be a bit more intense and thundery, but I did like the synthwave closing theme.

  3. Greg

    Well that was something. What an odd show.

    I tend to have issues with quizshows that feel unfair and boy does this show feel unfair.

    I get the feeling if you are too clever you will just be targeted until you get eliminated. How well you do in a round bares no resemblance, as you can just have the control dropped on you as the time runs out and nothing you can do about it.

    The physical round is just plain odd. They have tried to do something different but it does not fit into what otherwise is a pure quiz. Another thing I found weird was interviewing the contestants after they were eliminated. I care even less about a person’s hobbies if I know they are off the show. Oh and the penultimate round a chess clock has been seen too many times before and has been done better elsewhere.

    Zoe is a good host, chatty, friendly and does a professional job. I quite liked the final. However is anybody ever going to win that 3k absolutely not, it feels very unachievable.

    Can’t say I’ll be back for this one again.

  4. Brekkie

    Jury out on this – just seems a mish mash of ideas with a bit of The Cube and Beat the Chasers thrown in crossbreed with House of Games being played straight. The physical games is what caught my eye in the trailer but it seems rather awkward, and also doesn’t seem logical that if you answer the question correctly you still have to play the game.

    The final round though was pretty original – basically two minutes to climb a money ladder, with the twist being once you get so far to win the money you have to get back to the beginning. Think that means 18 or 20 questions correct to win the £3000 jackpot in 2 minutes which is a fairly tough ask, something even the Chasers don’t have to do most days.

  5. Brekkie

    P.S. In a show of this nature which is about time the lengthy pauses between questions really don’t help.

  6. NowCutThatOut

    I don’t really understand the benefit of not showing the clock (unless it’s just to stop filibustering, but that still works as a strategy, even if no-one used it deliberately today – if you’re player 1, round 1, there’s not much of an incentive to get a question right for at least a minute). Without it, there’s zero strategy. Round 3 also seemed felt extremely unfair given the question length. Round 5 seemed out-of-place since it was a straight chess clock instead of ‘lightning’.

    The biggest problem, like a lot of these shows, is the massive knowledge gap between some of the players. Really not looking forward to a whole week of Finbar – I’m sure he’s a lovely chap and he’ll make it to later rounds, but he’s just not going to beat a Mark/Andy in any of the “fair” general knowledge rounds.

    Questions themselves were nicely broad, but they needed to be snappier (and with better contestants) to really amp up the tension.

  7. Daniel Williams

    This felt like they had ideas for a few different format ideas but none of them could hold a full format so they just pushed it all together in one.

    The first round is answer general knowledge questions, get one correctly, nominate someone to answer them until time runs out. Person that has the light on them gets eliminated.

    Second round is the same but this time they have to answer two questions correctly before moving on.

    Third round, they are given clues describing something, whether it be a famous person or location or item.

    Fourth round, they are given two choices to a question, answer correctly have to do a physical challenge. This show wins the award for host saying ball on a ledge in the most dramatic way possible.

    Fifth round remaining contestants answer general knowledge questions but then they have to spell the answer correctly.

    The final. The last contestant standing climbs up a money ladder, they can stop at any time they want to but they have to answer as many questions as steps they took in order to win the money.

    This felt scrambled. Each round added a new gimmick where none of the rounds needed a gimmick. The first two rounds where they had to answer general knowledge questions were the tightest and I would have preferred if they just kept that style of round all throughout.
    It just made the show look hastily put together with each round having a gimmick that had no relation to the actual gameplay.
    No bonus for whoever did the physical challenge fastest or most times, no bonus for spelling, no bonus for guessing the clues.

    Those three rounds felt like three different formats in their own right crammed down into this.

    Zoe is a great host and really elevated the show. I hope Zoe gets more hosting gigs after this. I have a feeling this will be a one and done series but that’s to do with the messiness of the format, nothing to do with Zoe who turns this into a OK show. A host other than Zoe could make this below average.

    I don’t think I’ll be tuning in again and this may end up being in my hall of shame picks at the end of this year.
    Four different formats cobbled together only saved by a great host.

  8. Harry

    I just felt this was quite boring. As Brekkie says it should feel intense but the pauses between questions AND just how long the rounds are lose any sense of excitement in the early game. I get the theming but the flashing is offputting and it does feel quite unfair in the way it can just be landed on you even if you’ve performed very well in the round.

    The physical game was fun but I wonder if the clock being visible in that round would make it more interesting in terms of the contestants feeling more pressure. The chess clock round was… well a chess clock round, and watching people spell on TV isn’t the most fun. It feels like they were trying to come up with another twist just to have a twist in every round.

    That stuff said though the final is a really interesting idea which I’d like to see more of. I think it might be more exciting if the turning round didn’t stop the clock. The pause removes any tension built up in the first half I feel. Perhaps it should be noted down and used to better effect in a different show though…

  9. Brekkie

    The spelling round seems rather unfair – basically switching from spelling Cat to Antidisestablishmentarianism. The clues round was a bit of a mess too and surely a pass should mean a new question rather than the next clue.

    I guess having contestants return all week is somewhat of the answer to the unfairness of fairly random eliminations – I think the show would benefit in one of the earlier rounds at least from the clock being visible so there could be some tactics. Perhaps money being earned throughout would add something too if people have to choose between earning more money and staying in the light but risking being eliminated if still in the light at the end.

  10. Cameron

    I don’t think it’s a bad quiz. Maybe a bit busy but I’m not sure if it will be about people getting used to it or something to be tweaked. Numberwang will likely be mentioned when describing it.

  11. Thomas Sales

    Were there always meant to be questions in the physical round or were they put in to add pauses in the action to make sure the contestants had got all the way back before another one could approach, to help with social distancing?

  12. gyroscope

    I liked lots about this. The questions, the nominating, the twists, the physical game complete with comedy running, even the chess clock spelling showdown. Unfortunately, like Face the Clock the unfairness of the eliminations didn’t work for me. We could have a situation where the person get the question right, but they’re still knocked out as they haven’t been asked to nominate yet at the leisurely pace that it all happens.
    The final has a really good idea in there, but with the slow pacing. it seems unlikely to ever be too exciting.

    1. David B

      Yes, good point. In ‘Jet Set’, the clock hitting zero signified “I’m now about to ask the final question”. In this show, it means “You’re out straight away”. Clearly, the former is fairer.

  13. David B

    Yeah… with all respect to those who worked on this, the production values on this were good but the elephant in the room is that the format makes little sense.

    It’s effectively the first round from Jet Set writ large. Why it worked there was because the rounds were fast and SHORT. Even if you were the first player, there was still a risk you could be ‘red’ by the end of the round. Here, it’s virtually impossible for anything of any consequence to happen within the first minute. You might as well fast forward to the final minute of each round and watch from there.

    The physical game was a bit odd. I was hoping the props were going to be some kind of “answer difficult questions OR complete a task” option, which could’ve been quite an interesting tactical choice – especially for people who were not so hot at the quizzing.

  14. Daniel H

    This was quite a pick and mix, wasn’t it!

    I think that’s a strength though – I liked that every round is a different variation, as I’m not generally a fan of formats where every round is exactly the same, over and over again, in the lead up to the Final. (eg Winning Combination)

    I may be in the minority in that I like the fact there’s a physical game in there to make it a bit different, although I would argue you need to really commit to that, Krypton Factor style, and have 2 or 3 rounds per show with physical elements, to make it clear that it’s a test of both mental and physical dexterity. At the moment it sticks out as an anomaly but if there was more of it we’d just accept it as part of the format.

    Agreed that Zoe comes across well, however, she seems to be reading the Qs quite slowly. I’m sure she’s capable of speaking faster, so that’s an interesting production decision, if so, as it actively works against the intensity there is meant to be with the clock counting down.

    Similarly, I really like the risk/reward endgame but at the current reading rate, I estimate she was on course to ask 19 or possibly 20 questions in the 2 mins today, 18 of which you need to get right to win the jackpot!

    Other talking points:

    Not sure on the name badge font – the A and R in the name MARK were virtually identical.
    Physical game was a great quick little task but strange that so many camera angles were used where you couldn’t really see the hole they were aiming at.
    Amusing to see the “Where was Russell Crowe born?” question pop up on ROHOG then immediately on Lightning straight after.

    Overall, there’s some decent stuff in there, it’s just a bit rough around the edges.

  15. Peter S

    It felt quite sedentary, even though there were quite a few questions; Zoe Lyons is fine as a host but I think could speed up on the qs. Overall first impression from me – it’s ‘fine’, but regrettably missable. It was a bit odd the guy on the right having to crook his neck to see Zoe, and there were quite a few abrupt edits, I felt.

    (I’ve just got back to my computer after watching it and found myself humming ‘The Wheel’s theme. Hmm.)

  16. TheLupineOne

    Very much reminded of Brig’s comments on The Hustler in regards to the show punishing you for doing the right thing, when it comes to the strategy of nominating a strong player when you think lightning is about to strike. Also, another bloody chess clock! Except this one has spelling!

    1. Brekkie

      I thought the Chess Clock was odd really as the premise of the rest of the show is not to be in the light at a specific point, so it’s the only round before the final where performance really counts.

  17. Lee Turner

    One point from me. I would have preferred if the contestant didn’t know how much time they had left to get back in the final round.

  18. Whoknows

    I really didn’t like it. Just felt like a compilation of bits of format that we’ve chucked out in quiz development brainstorms in the past. The ball round – awful. That bit really smacked of amateur hour. Even the music and sound effects were a missed opportunity, it’s called Lightning, stick some thunderbolts and bangs on it for god sake! I feel like the whole thing’s only happened because of the Northern Ireland Screen funding. I’d be surprised if anything came along later this year that could beat this to number 1 on the Hall of Shame but let’s see.

  19. Joey Clarke

    I think it would be better if the jackpot was £10,000 because 3 grand seems a bit cheap for the 6:30 PM time slot. (Maybe banijay will think about that if it ever goes to primetime)
    The final should be that you get one minute to rack up the cash and then one minute to win the money.
    The music does remind me of a fake Lottery show I used to imagine doing when I was 12 even though the main theme was a popular dance track that was recently released at that point and the Lotto has just gone to £2 (Which has been mentioned on one of the questions on tonight’s show) at the time.

    1. Joey Clarke

      I forgot to point out.
      I think instead of, “Lightning has struck” for a departing catchphrase, a better catchphrase would be, “You’ve been struck-out”.

  20. Henry R

    For the first 1/3 of the show it feels like an ok quiz, then it just turns into a completely different thing with the game and spelling round.

    Zoey Lion needs to read the questions faster as all the rounds are against the clock. We’re spoilt with Bradley, but it’s really telling how slow she is.

    Big swing and a miss for me.

  21. Brekkie

    Probably a Covid thing but odd for them not to have to gave a different set of clothes for each day.

  22. Henry R

    So on today’s show Zoe asked a total of 19 questions in the final round. Considering you need to get 20 correct to get to the jackpot and back, it’s practically impossible to win the top prize.

  23. Brig Bother Post author

    Here’s a fun thing posted to Wink Martindale’s channel, the unsold pilot for a show called Every Second Counts:

    Not massively exciting by any means, but it’s interesting they went for a similar Timebomb Quiz format for its qualifiers.

    The issues with the Timebomb Quiz format is by and large it doesn’t usually sit in the ‘fun’ area in the gap between ‘fair’ and ‘just’ – someone gets eliminated, it’s difficult not to just shrug really, go ‘oh that’ s unfortunate’ and move on.

    The twist that Jet Set added, and was mildly clever, was that it only punished the last person to make a mistake – you might be lucky or unlucky in your timing, but ultimately you’re responsible for your own downfall so it’s easier to derive satisfaction from the situation. If you get questions right you can’t be eliminated.

  24. Mart With An Y Not An I

    I sat through that one as well.
    Mostly distracted by wondering (as I do with US non broadcast pilots produced in LA) if all of those contestants were actually actors (Spoiler – the pressing of the button with 0.5 seconds seems a little too fishy for me) and wondering if the Strachan tunesmith partnership were being the in game music, as the music being played in the ‘isolation’ (lol) booth section of the show had very strong similarities to the £1million question thinking time score from Millionaire.

    But, yeah. Everyone tried their best. Host was adequate, the choice of the time the player had in the isolation booth was highly riggable, and that part reminded me of Face The Clock.

    But fairly easy to see why it wasn’t picked up by a network for a full run.

  25. Brekkie

    The main thing this has going for it is it isn’t the news, so have watched a bit more of it than I thought I would.

    Two changes I’d make:

    Think in the challenge round it would make more sense to perform the task before answering the question – at the moment it seems illogical that when you answer correctly you get to spend more time in the light doing a challenge, so switching that round so you need to complete the challenge in order to get to answer a question makes a better narrative IMO.

    Secondly with the final round being impossible carrying over what you have left on the chess clock to add to the two minutes in the final would boost the chances of winning – not that the BBC accountants want that.

  26. Chris M. Dickson

    Probably closer to the Hall of Shame than the Hall of Fame for me, but far from the worst I’ve seen. I quite liked the sound and graphics, I definitely liked the description-from-clues round and at least there has been variety from day to day in the little physical challenges.

    Some “round of this, round of that” shows work well, some work less well. The rounds here aren’t interesting enough, or varied enough within each round, for this to be a winner. The closest comparison is, perhaps, Going For Gold; the rounds there were longer than the rounds here, but the rounds here feel more repetitive.

  27. Cliff

    For all those saying that the jackpot is impossible to get, today’s contestant only failed because of the number of wrong answers he gave, not because there’s not enough time to do it.

    1. Joey Clarke

      I agree.
      Junaid was so close to getting the three grand to add to the £59,000 he won on the wheel last month.
      This is why I said what I said about the final round when I was giving my opinion on the show this time last week.

  28. Joey Clarke

    That was Zoey’s fault that!
    The question was too long to read.
    And I thought mastermind was the only one where the questions were sometimes too long.

    1. Cliff

      Are you talking about today’s final? In which case, nonsense on several counts:

      1) The contestant determined how much time he’d have left to get back home.
      2) The question was easily interrupted with one second to go.
      3) Indeed, the contestant did interrupt with one second to go, but he gave the wrong answer.

      1. Joey Clarke

        Yes I’m talking about today’s final and now that you mentioned it. It would have made no difference.

  29. Oliver

    Caught an episode of this and… it’s fine! Far from revolutionary but watchable and fast-paced and ideal for a 30 minute slot.

    30 minutes is the sweet spot for something like this. It basically makes me wish that the Fifteen-to-One revival was given a 30-45 minute slot rather than dragged out to an excruciating hour.

  30. Lola Kay

    Zoe Lyons is extremely slow at answering the questions. I actually challenge her to ask questions within the 2 minutes on the last round, that’s even with interrupting. She pauses after they’re correct and even when they’re wrong. Get some tips from Bradley Walsh, Zoe.

  31. Cliff

    It did happen though, someone got to the £3k step and the only reason he didn’t win was because he gave some wrong answers, not because Zoe wasn’t asking the questions fast enough.

    1. Lola Kay

      She asks all questions slowly and waits a couple seconds before asking a new one. Terrible choice of host.

    1. Joey Clarke

      Hopefully they move it to an earlier time-slot (E.G. 4:45 PM as Eggheads is moving to channel 5) or raise the jackpot to £10,000 as three grand seems to cheap for 6:30 PM.

  32. Conor

    I never saw this first time around – does it work with 6 contestants starting the week, who get 5 episodes and therefore 5 chances to play, and then a new person added each day who gets one less chance each time? So the new player on Friday only gets one shot? A bit like the old format of Impossible. If so, I’m not a fan of that, majorly unfair for the Friday newbie compared to the Monday starters.

    1. Crimsonshade

      Yup, that’s exactly how it works.
      And yup, I agree with you about the unfairness.


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