Watching Telly: Cheat

By | May 27, 2022

Just got back from Elstree for my first Watching Telly for several years. Exciting. They seem desperate for audience members, so if you’re free Friday/Saturday hit up SRO.

  • So here’s a new show set to go out on Netflix whenever. Superficially it’s a bit like Bullshit – it basically involves answering questions and trying to hide the fact you don’t know the answers. In truth it’s a more entertaining game.
  • Largely because it’s being hosted by Danny Dyer and Ellie Taylor. To be clear, Ellie is doing the heavy lifting in terms of the actual quiz – basically the Alexander AND Richard, in terms of wit as well as question-asking. Danny is mainly there to mug to camera and call people mugs. I have no idea how they’re going to edit this in a way that won’t leave other territories a bit baffled – personally I’m all for Dyer In Excelsis as a point of difference, you’ve hired him for that so you ought to lean into it I think.
  • Four people play. Each has their own desk with a screen that rises and falls (moving set piece, good). Each contestant’s left hand is hidden under a cover for reasons that will become apparent. There’s a big red button on each person’s right.
  • In round one, taking it in turn, each player will face four (non-multiple choice) questions. If they know the answer – great, £1,000 in the pot. If they get the question wrong £1,000 is taken out. Each question is read out by Ellie and also comes up on the screen in front of them. Crucially, if they don’t know the answer they can cheat – under the cover that their left hand is under is a button, if they push it the correct answer will pop up on their screen. Meanwhile a camera is pointed at the face of the contestant and displayed on a big screen above Ellie.
  • An answer given – usually correct (giving Dyer the reason to say “another £1,000 in the bin” which is an odd choice), each other player must decide if the player had cheated or not by pushing their big red button. There’s no sort of time limit for this – if nobody pushes after a few seconds the game will move on, but if somebody pushes, Danny asks about it, somebody else can push while the conversation is happening. Whether the contestant cheated or not is not revealed. The object is to have the highest accuracy as at the end of the round as this makes you… The Cheat Hunter.
  • But before finding out who the Cheat Hunter is it’s time to reckon the prize money. Because cheats never prosper, the money earned from a cheat doesn’t count and so the prizemoney ticks down to its correct total – big oohs and gasps from the audience. The Cheat Hunter is revealed. They then have to decide who to eliminate from the game, however the money lost by that person is returned to the pot. The strategy is: do you go for the most money or do you keep around people you can read?
  • Round two is similar to Round one, except now the questions are worth £3,000, and if someone accuses someone of cheating everyone will get to find out if they did cheat or not after the question. On the one hand this opens up good banter-y fun but there a couple of slight issues I think – firstly if someone makes an accusation, the third person can just elect to jump on the bandwagon – it feels like someone ought to get a bigger benefit for having the early courage of their convictions. Secondly, if someone is accused and they DIDN’T cheat the sound effect is one of disappointment, but the pot increases by £3,000. It’s a bit dissonant.
  • Another thing that looks and feels a bit confusing – if someone is correctly caught cheating that money doesn’t go into the pot. However after the end of round pot reckoning (with the unchallenged cheating getting taken off), the money returned to the pot from the eliminated contestant by The Cheat Hunter *includes* the money already not added on being caught cheating in the round already. If you have to re-read that paragraph again I don’t really blame you. In effect, it’s actually the same rules as Round one, but the consequences and the way it plays out are not actually all that obvious – it wasn’t until Ellie pointed out that if the other person was selected, £X,000 would have been added back to the pot that we realised that was even an option.
  • Round Three is The Final Cheat and it’s Sudden Death – two people left – get a question wrong, you lose. Make a false accusation (“you’ve dropped the C bomb!”) you lose. You win if you correctly accuse your opponent of cheating. Actually a really fun battle of wits as an idea – you have to be willing to take risks if you want to leave with the money, and at least plays with one of the benefits of Netflix that episodes don’t have to conform to a certain length.
  • Overall I think the show gets more fun as it goes along (I think that Round one feels a bit prosaic and that Round Two has a few loose ends that could do with tying) and really benefits being played by people who can give and take a bit and benefits from Dyer adding fun to the proceedings. I’ve said in the past he’s not a natural gameshow host but his lack of smarm fits The Wall really well – I found him difficult to dislike here and Taylor’s a good foil, and like on The Wall he’s mainly procedure and talking to the contestants leaving the actual believable quizmaster stuff to others.
  • Not that any of this really matters. There are millions of things on Netflix, a quiz where people lie a bit just isn’t going to do numbers. How many shiny floor shows on Netflix that don’t involve cooking or bakery, and hence have the visual element, have made it to a second series?

3 thoughts on “Watching Telly: Cheat

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    Another point of difference to Bullshit, I should add, is that there’s no explaining *why* you know an answer – a question is asked, the player might act a bit to look sure/unsure, they give their answer, the game moves on with or without discussion.

  2. Cliff

    What are the questions like, given that presumably this is going to be made available worldwide and not just to UK subscribers?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I don’t remember there being anything *too* British, a couple of international football questions maybe. I don’t think they were hugely difficult questions in the main, but the level of cheating suggests they were pitched fairly well – contestants were all In The Demo.


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