99 to Beat

By | April 3, 2024

I don’t know who’s giving the ITV commissioners a kick up the backside recently but TVZone reporting this evening they’ve just commissioned another interesting format, 99 to Beat. Not a massive fan of the title to be honest, prefer the Dutch title, De Alleskunner (the all-rounder) but there we are.

In it, 100 players take part in 99 games in a warehouse – largely simple stuff, think Taskmaster tiebreak. The aim is very simple: just don’t come last in any of them, because if you do you’re eliminated. After eight episodes and 99 games, the final person left standing wins a significant cash prize (which I’m assuming will be something like £99,000).

As you can anticipate, segments are quick and the games are largely simple. It’s been a sort of low key hit on the continent, a couple of countries bought it as quite cheap Summer filler and it’s ended up doing rather better numbers than anyone anticipated, it’s been running in Belgium in one form or another since 2018, it’s on its sixth series in the Netherlands which has also had celebrity spin-offs, a fifth is about to happen in Germany.

There are two full series of the Dutch show on Youtube if you want an idea. Doubtless the ITV one will have slightly different production values. Banijay are making it.

Edit: thanks to FOTB Tom F who wrote this in the Discord:

Right right as someone who actually took the time to sit down and watch a season of De Alleskunner let me give some thoughts:

  • The show is fast – they have to get through 10 events per episode, so a 5 min cycle of “explain, setup, start, game happening, tense moment as things shake out for the last few, loser identified, breathe, tearful farewell, applause, and straight into the next thing”
  • Despite this, after about 4 episodes, you do start to “know” the cast. “ah, there’s the journalist woman”, “oh no, not the redhead, I liked her”, etc…. They always briefly profile the “worst” 3 or 4 in each game, so if someone is an underdog who keeps cheating death, they’ll naturally become a main character.
  • If you watch closely, you’ll see similar ideas (an A or B quiz, an estimating challenge, something stolen from a legit sport, and yes, lots of student-party style ‘carry/stack/throw’ games) come up again and again. As the numbers get lower, we get some more serious set pieces, like climbing or go-karting (and some things that are council duels on Fort Boyard). On numbers like 64, 32, and 27, you can expect an N-player mini-tournament.
  • The games are gleefully, industrially, cheap. The chairs are cheap. The balls are cheap. Every single prop is cheap and looks naff. The set is the warehouse from Dutch Genius, but somehow worse.
  • IMO the best reference point is the Squid Games: The Challenge – that would be my guess as to why this got the green light now.
  • The magic is all in the tone – The disembodied voice in the dutch version is fairly snarky, catchphrase “There are 74 of you… but not for long”, and introduces each game and dismisses each contestant with a bad pun. The cast are mostly a friendly happy-go-lucky bunch. But the prize is serious, and losing doesn’t just mean missing the prize, but leaving the show but missing out on 98 more interesting challenges – so they do care. This means the audience are on a constant roller-coaster between silly, frantic, tense, and heartbroken – the light and dark of Belgian Mole on 8x speed.
  • Honestly, it feels very Dutch, and I don’t know if it will translate well — the balance of snark and wholesome, in particular, is very fine and might just feel weird on an ITV Saturday night.
  • A cosmetic point, but personally I think calling it the allrouder and making it about Just not being the worst in 99 things is much more compelling than 99-to-beat, which surely will just make people think of 1V100 and 1% club.

9 thoughts on “99 to Beat

  1. Henry R

    Surprised this had been commissioned now since ITV have been sat on this for nearly a year

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I don’t doubt Squid Games Challenge/whatever the Mr Beast thing is going to be has helped this along.

  2. Brig Bother Post author

    Intrigued they’re (reportedly) doing it as 8 parts not 10 parts, 12-and-a-bit games an episode feels a bit ‘number unfriendly’.

  3. Mark A

    Personally, I would’ve gone with “Game 99” as a title. It gives the show a sense of working towards an end goal (“Who will survive to face Game 99?”) as well as build up anticipation over the series (maybe name the games “Game 1”, “Game 2” etc.) and, for bonus points, have the viewers guess and discuss what “Game 99” will actually be? (Assuming those viewers haven’t seen any of the foreign versions before).

  4. Alex

    99 to Beat (wtf is that title), Genius Game, The Fortune Hotel – could be a successful year for ITV entertainment wise!

  5. Henry R

    Wonder if they’re doing this to try and make up passing on Gladiators?


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