Show Discussion: Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win

By | January 7, 2022

Saturdays, 8:30pm,
ITV

Well there’s nothing like making a rod for your own back is there?

Ant and Dec offer to potentially bankrupt ITV (spoiler: they haven’t bankrupted ITV) in the world’s first limitless jackpot, provided you don’t count any existing winner-stays-on shows, and does so in a method that if the adverts are anything to go by looks ‘a bit maths’. To bank money, players must get answers to numerical questions bang on. They can walk away at any time, but if they ever give an answer that’s over the correct one you leave with nothing. Also if you underguess by too much. How they climb the infinite money ladder is still unexplained, although it certainly looks like you’re climbing for every number you’re off, which would certainly be A Thing.

Something I think will go against it is that it won’t take long for people to work out the difference between what’s ACTUALLY being risked and what’s perceived as the risk – you’re risking £10,000, you haven’t yet won the £1m the ladder is currently at. Also this quote from Dec in the Radio Times worries me a bit:

“We have had some big wins on this series, but I think when people see the show they’ll go, ‘I could do that for longer and be braver and go higher.’ So I’m actually really looking forward to recording another series once people have seen it and got into it and decided what their strategies will be,” Dec said.

Ant and Dec tease “unbearable” Limitless Win moment – Radio Times

Does rather suggest this first series isn’t going to be throwing around the big money they’ve been promising.

ITV have gone big on the promotion of this, and it’s on between The Masked Singer and The John Bishop Show so I probably wouldn’t read too much into the ratings in the first week – if it hasn’t done well there’s something very wrong in the State of Denmark. After that we’ll see. It might be absolutely brilliant. Let us know what you think in the comments.

94 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win

  1. Chris

    I reckon we will see the 1m barrier broken for the first time. Wont break the 2m though

    Reply
    1. Score

      It’s been broken once before, on another Ant & Dec show. £1.5m on Red or Black.

      Reply
  2. Brekkie

    What’s the betting they declare £1.25m the biggest ever TV jackpot, despite previously giving away more themselves?

    Reply
  3. Mark A

    It’s gonna feel weird seeing Ant and Dec presenting a very serious big money quiz. I would probably imagine this would be a better fit for someone like Phillip Scofield or Bradley Walsh.

    Reply
  4. Mark A

    I liked that. Was not expecting such a big win this early though.

    That being said, I do wonder how high the vast majority of players will climb that ladder, given how that first couple banked that money through getting really lucky with a question!

    Reply
  5. Karen

    My main thought after watching it is that it could do with a more reserved host, the show seemed a lot more interested in Antandec’s reactions to everything happening than the contestants. On a show pushing itself as being all about life changing money I’d have thought you’d want to focus more on the people actually winning that money. Really though it’s solid, moves at pleasing pace, rules felt a bit more complex than they needed to be but that could just be a first episode issue. Really all my issues are in the presentation, I don’t feel like all the psuedo behind the scenes shots really added anything for example.

    Reply
    1. Mark A

      Gary Barlow? Really?

      Surely, if they are worried about giving away huge cash prizes like tonight, wouldn’t they want to go with someone cheaper like Paul Farrah?

      Reply
    2. Joey Clarke

      He must have worked with Sylvan for the music because it sounded like Sylvan’s work and/or Sylvan had finally teamed up with Farrer.

      Reply
      1. Paul Farrer

        Mr Sylvan and I are great friends. I always enjoy his work and he’s a top fella. We haven’t really spoken about a collaboration on a show yet but maybe one day it could happen. Who knows?

        Reply
  6. Andrew Sullivan

    First episode broadcast, so here’s the format rundown.

    A pair of contestants are brought onto the set. They are given 60 seconds to answer as many questions as they can, with each correct answer earning 5 lives. One of the pair answers the first question, only after giving a correct answer does their partner answer a question. This alternates until the time runs out. If a pair fail to earn any lives, they immediately leave the game.

    Onto the main game. The pair is shown a question with a numerical answer. They have a minute to dial in what answer they wish to lock in and press a button to do this. They can be under the correct answer, but must not be over, otherwise the game ends. Once the answer is locked in, we see each of the steps on the money ladder gradually turn purple. If all the steps turn purple, they are still in the game, but if any turn red, then they’ve gone over. If they are still in the game, we then see if the answer they’ve locked in is the exact answer. If it is, the steps turn gold and they bank the last money amount they passed and earn 5 extra lives. If it is NOT the exact answer, they lose 1 life for each step under the correct answer they were. I would assume that if the team runs out of lives, they lose. At random points on the ladder, if a step lights up in white, it earns the team a lifeline. They can only hold one lifeline at a time. The lifelines shown tonight were:
    More Than – The team can ask if the correct answer is more than a figure they specify
    Odd Or Even – Reveals whether the exact answer is odd or even
    Range – Gives a range that the exact answer is in
    Take Two – This wasn’t used, but I believe that the team could give 2 answers and the one that was furthest away from the exact answer was discarded. (I’d need to watch the episode again to get the exact wording of this lifeline)

    Reply
    1. Karen

      The description of Take Two was that the “worst” answer would be removed, which I’m assuming means the furthest answer if they’re both under or whichever one is over if they run each side of the actual answer. And of course if they’re both over the lifeline is functionally irrelevant anyway.

      Reply
  7. Brig Bother Post author

    That was quite interesting, hopefully someone will be able to supply a 15-mins ratings breakdown, I think it would have lost a lot of people early doors who may have missed out on a Properly Exciting Moment, but it took a long time to get to the Properly Exciting Moment and there’s not really any guarantee they haven’t blown their load in episode one. It’s weird – when they banked £100k, that should feel like a Significant Sum of Money, but because of the way the game is pitched it basically didn’t – it wasn’t until that half mill moment it felt like big money, so the rest of the series will need to make good on that.

    The questions were pretty good and I appreciate that it moved along at a fair lick. I quite liked the floating neon set.

    I totally get the cries of “Numberwang”. I think the sound effects were largely terrible – you’d think something that suggested you were still in the game would be a bit more upbeat than a crash wouldn’t you? I thought the reveal had a bit to be desired to be honest, Pointless Tower it is not.

    My gut feeling is if they pair it up after The Masked Singer it’ll probably do OK but if it had to fend for itself it’d probably die a bit of a death. Not unless it can provide Properly Exciting Moments regularly.

    Incidentally, the STATS have been updated for the No Limit Competition:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N338w3XNBnpSwBigjKNpI0XKEdIfPtWrPl81SCjldZM/edit?usp=sharing

    The top rung counts as £500k because they didn’t go for it, where as if they DID go for it and fail then it would have been the £750k, for the avoidance of doubt.

    Reply
    1. Barney Sausage

      I thought it interesting that, when the hooter went for the end of the first show and just after the new lads had taken their places to play the game proper, Dec said “I hate that noise”…almost like he’d heard it before? I wonder if this wasn’t the actual first show recorded, and if they’ve front loaded a big win? If so, I’d agree with Brig – it’s a case of “how do you follow that, then…”?

      Reply
      1. Barney Sausage

        Also…the “limitless win” bit ..the ladder shows amazing Sims of money, but you only bank one if your answer is exactly correct – so, when the first couple banked five grand that was lovely, and they could have cashed out – but, as far as I understood it, that total would remain at five grand until the couple got another answer bang on. If that’s right, you could then have someone with five grand in the bank but answering questions at the ten million pound level – but with no chance of winning that £10M. unless they get a question absolutely right ..and I’d wonder about the calibre of the ten mil question, given the early one about Michael Jordan and his hand span (and yes, I instantly spread my hand and used that as something of a guide…)

        Reply
        1. David B

          Two answers to that – the questions have a limited range, so there’s always SOME chance of getting is right. And secondly, judicious use of lifelines helps.

          Reply
  8. Henry R

    It felt far too complicated for Saturday night. I enjoyed the questions but the way they didn’t really care about the large sums of money at play felt really off and weird. The extra lives confused me too, are they at random or at set points up the ladder?

    We kept flicking over to The Wheel during the ad breaks and the difference in energy and excitement was night and day.

    Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Ah, pass then. They can only have one lifeline in hand at once, presumably others “on the ladder” just don’t bother showing up if they’re holding one.

          Reply
          1. David B

            I believe they show up and then you choose which one to keep.

    1. Ben

      It’s odd that some people didn’t understand and other got it completely.
      Personally I didn’t find it overly complicated – correct me if I’m wrong, but it only really has three main rules.
      1, go under – lose lives
      2, get it spot on – bank money
      3, go over – go home

      I know there are other elements, but that’s the basics right.
      As a nation we’re in trouble if people don’t understand this.

      Reply
  9. Brekkie

    Nice studio – graphics, music wise etc. no complaints.

    Ant and Dec were having to try really hard to be serious at the beginning, but relaxed more across the hour. The core format isn’t bad, but it is hampered by the unnecessary addition of lifelines – they’re not needed. Just have the lives and keep it simple.

    The big problem for me was I just wasn’t invested in the contestants or the game. Didn’t particularly care if they won, didn’t particularly care when they won. Suffered a bit from the issue we see in the US that when such big amounts are supposedly up for grabs it makes the life changing somes of around £25k seem meaningless.

    Also think the Limitless nature will prove it’s downfall – there is no jackpot to win, no game to complete.

    Reply
  10. Brig Bother Post author

    Lots of people on DS claiming to not understand the banking mechanism.

    I’ve come up with this brill catchphrase:

    “You’ve got to be BANG ON to MAKE MON(ey).”

    Give me the BAFTA.

    Reply
  11. Brekkie

    That was confusing initially. Assumed it meant you could only cash out after an exact answer but it was just banking money, but as that money isn’t guaranteed by banking it I wouldn’t say it is banked.

    I think only being able to cash out after exact answers would make it more exciting.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think that’s a terrible idea. You *want* people to go on and overplay their hand. They’ll be much more conservative if they had to leave immediately.

      Reply
  12. David

    I checked the numbers as they went along- if the first couple had played perfectly, they would have won £1.5 million.

    And it does look like they set the question stacks up to encourage people to go on-

    I added the numbers up, again, if the couple had played a perfect game, after each question the running total would have ended in:

    9
    7
    6
    9
    8
    7
    2
    0 (130- so £750k at that point)
    8
    8

    (so after most of the questions they’d be 3 steps or fewer away from the next money amount)

    Reply
    1. David B

      No, the questions aren’t selected like that. And where they finish after each question is a function of their bravery, which is totally out of the producers’ hands.

      Reply
  13. John R

    I came out of this not knowing how I felt really – I’ll happily watch it again next week but it just felt a bit ’empty’ in the tension part of my brain even though there was in theory plenty of tension and high stakes

    Basically it seems to bank the big money you just have to play it slightly safe and hope you suddenly get a question you know the exact answer to (like the Amazon one), so a lot of it is down to…luck of the draw?

    I’ll also be interested to see the ranges in terms of the numbers for the questions as the series goes on…by the point the contestants got to in this episode every further 10 steps is essentially potentially costing ITV an extra quarter of a million quid every time…

    Wonder if there are any games left on the cutting room floor due to being wiped out straight away…the ‘1 over and game over’ could be a rather easy pitfall to end up in depending on the question too!

    Reply
  14. Cliff

    Excellent all round really. I think the only issue is that the appearances of the lifelines seem to be random. But the idea that contestants could go on forever is a great gimmick, as well as ensuring that they don’t go “well, we’ll cash out here, it’s near enough to the jackpot”.

    Reply
  15. Brig Bother Post author

    Alright, I gather this started with 4.7m overall, starting at 5m inherited from Masked Singer and dropping to 4.2m by the end.

    Good launch, one number is not a trend etc. It beat The Wheel, although maybe tellingly that gained across the hour.

    Reply
    1. Score

      It’s a great start for a new show in this day and age really.

      The 4.2m is presumably for the last 5 minutes, and it ended a couple of minutes early, so that will include the credits and some adverts at the end. So I’m estimating the drop across the programme probably wasn’t quite as steep as that.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        That’s from a fifteen minute breakdown at 2115, so presumably people turned off after the winners left. It was at 4.7m at 2100.

        Reply
        1. Jon

          4.7m at 9pm is really good given it peaked at 5.1.

          The start of the new game is the main reason it probably lost viewers after that.

          Reply
  16. Brig Bother Post author

    I watched it a second time tonight but this time with family to try and gauge what average not-all-that-online people might think.

    First of all, we can throw “it’s too complicated” out the window, they basically picked up the idea pretty quickly. They also played along with the questions.

    But. They also thought it was a bit flat up to that half-mill moment, and even then that didn’t get much of an OMG reaction. So…? Very much a game that’s more fun to *play* than it is to *watch*.

    A few more things I picked up on – I think the constant £250k money jumps after £250k are going to make the game a bit tiresome, I think some sort of bigger increase after a while is going to be necessary to stop it just feeling like an abstract grind – I think it already has a value-of-money issue, I don’t think making it feel like a grind later on is going to make it more exciting. Also there MUST be a better way to introduce lifelines than “we’ll get back to that” halfway through a reveal.

    So enjoy your successful launch of course, but I’m afraid my money is still riding on “not the next big thing” and I think the coming weeks will be telling. Still, could be a lot worse.

    Reply
    1. jon

      A grind jumping up £250,000 every 10 steps on the ladder – that’s a grind I’d like to watch.
      It’s probably set like this so they don’t give away £20 mill in a series.

      Think the first two contestants were a little reserved / very cool (but they are used to life and death scenarios), a normal couple would go berserk at big money.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        > It’s probably set like this so they don’t give away £20 mill in a series.

        Well, yes.

        > A grind jumping up £250,000 every 10 steps on the ladder – that’s a grind I’d like to watch.

        You think you do. I think in reality the novelty will wear off quickly. It’s like drugs, you need bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect. I’m told.

        Reply
  17. Brekkie

    Might this be the first show where the answers effectively determine the prize?

    Reply
  18. Mark A

    Just doing the Maths:

    1st Team: £500,000
    2nd Team: £250,000
    3rd Team: £0

    Total won this series: £750,000
    Average win: £250,000

    This is subject to change of course, but so far, it looks like a lot of teams are going to win a LOT of money on this show!

    Reply
  19. Jon

    Second solid episode. Will ratings drop, absolutely as there was so much hype for ep1.
    Really enjoying the questions.
    Is it the best since millionaire, I don’t think any show can really claim that title, too many great shows out there. Is it good, I think so.
    Feels like you want it to fail Brig?

    Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Also I’ve got a great post on The Kubler-Ross Five Stages Of Ant And Dec Quiz Formats to write if this goes to the Dumper.

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Ordinarily 3.9m would be seen as pretty strong, but when your big money big splash show gets outrated by Celebrity Catchphrase, and your lead-in has increased on the previous week…

          I’ll just reiterate what I said halfway through watching episode one – provided it has the massive lead-in there’s no reason it should flop. But if you put it out on its own that’s what it would do.

          Reply
  20. Sestunael

    Random observation : pretty amazed that they managed to *not* plug some kind of viewer/call-in and lose competition during the show, especially considering the series’ prize budget so far. Am I missing something from my international point of view ?

    Reply
  21. Mark A

    Probably because ITV already make so much money from other phone-in competitions!

    These days you don’t even have to answer a question like you used to. I wonder why they stopped that?

    Reply
    1. Joey Clarke

      Because of the phone-in scandal from 2007.
      Some entries weren’t pooled in within the last hour of the competition and some people would be mugged of by being told that it’s wrong or they’re having technical issues with the service.

      Reply
  22. Barney Sausage

    I’m having a cup of coffee and a nose through the TV overnights from Saturday night (thrill a minute, my life!!) and I thought I’d look at the five minute breakdown of The Wheel v Limitless Win from this weekend.

    Limitless Win wins overall, but I wonder – given the fact that the Wheel steadily grows across the hour whilst Ant and Dec are a bit volatile, would you be happier with the steady build but the lower overall figure…or does the higher overall win for you? Obviously, the guys who sell the ads will be very happy – but aside of that, as a programme maker, which way would you lean? The figures are below in millions, for info…no ITV+1 included, just like for like…

    TIME BBC 1 ITV
    2030 3.1 4.0
    2035 3.1 4.1
    2040 3.2 4.1
    2045 3.3 4.0
    2050 3.5 3.4
    2055 3.5 3.9
    2100 3.5 3.8
    2105 3.6 3.4
    2110 3.8 3.7
    2115 3.9 3.3
    2120 4.0 3.5
    2125 3.8 3.4

    Reply
  23. Brig Bother Post author

    Cheers Barney – that is interesting actually, The Wheel basically ahead in the second half hour, also again a drop off after the first set of contestants.

    Reply
  24. Mark A

    Update after ep. 3.

    1st Team: £500,000
    2nd Team: £250,000
    3rd Team: £0
    4th Team £0
    5th Team: £30,000

    Total won this series: £780,000
    Average win: £156,000.

    Compared to last week the average win has taken a bit of a hit. I personally thought the Canadian flag question was a bit tricky.

    Also, I think the “Life builder” seems a bit pointless. One team got 30 lives and crashed out, the other got 5 lives and won £30,000!

    Reply
  25. Cliff

    That doesn’t make it pointless at all. Perhaps the team that started with 30 lives felt more reckless than the team that started with 5.

    Reply
    1. Jon

      Seems to me the more lives they have the safer they play (more cautious) as they have lots of lives so can afford to be under and lose some. When they don’t have many lives they have to go for exact answers…

      Reply
    1. Jon

      3.71m limitless win
      3.66m the wheel

      Close. Interestingly limitless win was pretty steady across the hour and picked up in the last 15 mins. Wonder how much of a dent the ads make – cos that show has a lot of them!

      2.5m The Wall
      2.2m weakest link

      Reply
        1. Mark A

          This is something I’ve noticed with a few ITV shows, in particular quizzes. Usually over an hour long programme there will be one “long” part paired with three shorter ones.

          The Chase, and its spin-off, Beat the Chasers, seem to be particularly guilty of this due to way both shows are structured, having to somehow fit 5 segments across 4 parts.

          I may be wrong about this but based on these examples, plus Limitless Win, it’s strange that ITV don’t space their ad-breaks more evenly on more of it’s shows.

          Reply
  26. Brig Bother Post author

    Ep 2 consolidated to 4.9m.

    It’s almost certainly getting a recommission, I still think it’s going to be an Ant and Dec standard two’n’out though, especially if it doesn’t have an incredible lead-in.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Reading between the lines on DS, sounds like another low for this last night and actually legitimately beaten by The Wheel. Surely, SURELY not another show everyone declared the best thing ever after episode one crashing into reality like I said it would? You hate to see it. It’ll still get a second series based on its good A16-34s though, and the fact for all it’s bluster the money ladder hasn’t actually gone above £500,000 yet (although we know it’s going to do that next week), let alone actually give seven figures away – in total as much as to one team.

      Here’s the latest on the No Limits Competition, someone BANG ON but with a week to go, in theory anyone can probably still win:
      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N338w3XNBnpSwBigjKNpI0XKEdIfPtWrPl81SCjldZM/edit?usp=sharing

      Reply
      1. Score

        Yes, looks like it lost about half a million on last week. It has been adding a lot more than The Wheel in +7 so I expect that gap will close. 16-34s are good. Kind of wonder if it would fit a bit better in the Sunday 8pm slot. It’s worked quite well for Millionaire and it’s not as loud and brash as the likes of The Masked Singer and The Wheel (loud and brash not intended as negatives).

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Ep 3 consolidates to 4.5m. It has been extremely consistent in A16-34s, it’s been steady at around 750k since ep 1.

          Reply
      2. James W

        Man, I lowballed that didn’t I? TBF, I honestly thought it’d get the axe before completing a run.

        Reply
        1. Brig Bother Post author

          I think it’s proven quite an interesting thought experiment – remember it was all done before the first ep was recorded. The actual amount given away is roughly in the ballpark of expectations, but most people waaay over the amount of cash they thought would be in play.

          Reply
          1. John R

            I think the ‘playalong’ questions in the main have helped the format, never did I think I would be spending my Saturday night measuring the size of a coin, my iPhone or digging around to find my Visa debit card to check how many numbers were on the front of it!

            Although they sometimes go from one extreme to another, from a question which is basically an educated guess to ‘add up all the spots on a dice’

            Suspect it’ll get at least another couple of series but then the novelty of the ‘limitless ladder’ will have probably worn off

  27. jon

    If it did come back for another series (which I suspect it will) what changes would you make?

    For me, more A&D gags and a faster pace.

    Reply
    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I’m not sure what I could do to fix it – the game’s based on experience point grinding and you’re either going to go for that sort of thing or you’re not – it’s certainly a different experience “doing” than “watching”.

      I don’t think the format gives A and D the chance to be A and D enough and I’m not sure the questions hit “interesting” until the ladder hits about £30k. I actually think the quiz pacing’s about right to be fair but it certainly needs to get past the easy questions a bit quicker. Ironically giving A and D the chance to be A and D a bit more might end up hurting the pacing, so don’t know.

      It definitely needs a better reveal, and it certainly needs to drop “we’ll come back to that” as a catchphrase.

      Reply
  28. Brig Bother Post author

    For those playing along at home, Ep 4 did 2.4m live, 900k on VODSAL, just over 570k on catch-up for a grand total of 3.89m. 621k in A16-34 though, 3rd in commercial telly for the week.

    Reply
    1. Chris M. Dickson

      How does that compare to, say, the most recent series or two of WWTBAM?

      I can’t work out whether this will be more expensive for ITV than Millionaire or not. (Prize money will only be a fraction of the cost – the hosting may be the most expensive part.) If it can do comparably well to WWTBAM? for a comparable cost, I reckon this will see at least series three.

      Reply
      1. Weaver

        Early last year, WWTBAM went out at 8pm Sunday. First five ratings, according to Thinkbox, were:
        17 Jan ’21 – 4.45mn
        24 Jan – 4.61mn
        31 Jan – 4.19mn
        7 Feb – 4.58mn
        14 Feb – 4.37mn

        Remember, last year there were no alternative options to staying in and watching the telly.

        Celebrity editions last November averaged out about 2.875mn.

        Reply
        1. Chris M. Dickson

          Thank you!

          Question I was wondering last night: have you put out a thousand Weeks yet? I imagine it’s in the 900-1050 range. I’d probably dial up 930 and expect to lose a looooot of lives.

          Reply
        2. Ben R

          Pre-pandemic millionaire was lower, and I think it’s was more like 2.8 – 3.3 range.

          I think LImitless Win prize is higher than millionaire as an avg per show. Bet my house that A&D are more expensive than Clarkson.

          Think it’s good to have another big money quiz in the schedule, this is the best one since MPD for me, so hope it runs for a while.

          In a world of very ‘average’ new quiz shows, limitless win at least lifts it’s head so I’ve the parapet.

          Reply
  29. Brig Bother Post author

    Final ep did 4.147m, 17th for week (2,777/857/513), third in commercial A16-34 with 709k.

    *Finally*, all that promo for the exciting/disappointing final episode paying off with a 200k bump, the first increase all series.

    Reply
    1. Paul H.

      happy to see the numbers increase for the last episode, it started a little slow in ep1, but was a proper grower. By the end it was very good – especially the million £ loss, which showed people can get high up the ladder (need more of that!)

      series avg consolidated circa 4.6 – 4.8m per ep. which is classed as a ratings hit nowadays. Interesting to see if they change anything for series 2.

      Reply
      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I knew someone would bring up the average! Don’t look at at a plotted graph though.

        And they didn’t lose a million, they lost £10,000.

        Reply
  30. jon

    They lost £10,000, but played for a million – should be the line.

    Wonder how many times people have actually played for a million in British quiz shows?
    Millionaire 6 or 7 winners (has anyone played for the million there and lost it?)

    Reply

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