That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Holding Out For a Hero

By | March 2, 2011

Wooh! This is Bother’s Bar v3.0’s OFFICIAL 500th post, so well done 12 Yard.

  • OK – this is the show where three people don’t play for themselves, they play for other people and the charities that they have set up.
  • The set – imagine a six pronged thing. Down the end of one of the prongs is the big screen. Down the two prongs next to the screen are lit up tunnels. Down the other three prongs are stages for the contestants to sit.
  • In the middle is a round table from whence 25 different ‘gift cards’ spring up. These are electronically charged by an independent adjudicator. They range from £1k to £20k in £1k increments, and there are obviously duplicates (although no-one knows what they are).
  • Our host is the lovely Gethin Jones. The warm up was Kevin Devine, whom older viewers might remember from That’s Life with Esther Rantzen. Which was a bit of a surprise.
  • The first contestant comes out of the tunnel to meet Gethin in the middle. Questions of the “why are you here? Are you good at quizzes?” style are asked then a VT is played. The subjects of the VTs assume that they were being followed around by cameras for a documentary on good causes, then in the final shot the person who set them up reveals everything, that in fact they’re hoping to win some money for them in a quiz.
  • Brave soul bought out on stage, lots of clapping. A quick chinwag, then the Hero is sent to one of the stages to have a sit down.
  • Each Hero is guaranteed £1,000 whatever happens.
  • The player will face five multiple choice questions, each one with three options. These questions are, on the whole, fairly difficult I thought, certainly very rarely lower than 3/5 on the difficulty scale.
  • After they’ve decided on an answer, Gethin asks them to pick a gift card from the table. This is scanned in and the amount revealed on the screen. Chosen gift cards are not replaced for the next competitiors, which I think may cause an issue if the first players nick all the high value cards to themeselves.
  • The player has some options. They can take the amount as is – in that case if the answer is right the money will be added to the Hero Fund, if the answer is wrong it will be taken away. But they have three ‘tools’ at their disposal which they can use once each – they can “double” to double the cash, “triple” (I think this should be “treble”, but that’s by the by) to triple it or they can “quit” (this would be much simpler if it was just “pass”) in which case the cash is drained away and no money will be won or lost.
  • The object is to score as high as possible, because only the top amount will get paid out. As the other players will get to see the score to beat that means there’s a massive disadvantage to playing first and I largely suspect that most first players without a target to chase will not play it aggressively enough. There is already quite the sense that people would gamble more if they were playing for themeselves, but as they were playing for someone else…
  • Scores can (and indeed will) go into minus figures. A player that finishes in minus figures still gets to keep £1,000 but obviously can’t win the show.
  • Player one gets all their questions first, then they bring out player and Hero 2 and finally Player and Hero 3 for their go. Players, Heroes and supporters are shifted between stages and audience blocks between rounds.
  • There is lots of confetti and ticker tape and fireworks when the winner is revealed.
  • That is basically it. As a game it is, you know, fine. I think the question difficulty stops the show from being quite as exciting as it could possibly be (I think they were very lucky to have a “moment” towards the end of the show). As a production they’ve made some choices that I’m… surprised by.
  • If you’re the sort of person who likes then to get on with it during quizzes, you’re out of luck – the first question won’t come up until five-ten minutes in. This being 12 Yard, there is lots of talking out the answers and painfully lengthy reveals.
  • I was surprised that the Hero was going to be aware of everything. I was under the impression they would be surprised at the end of the show with the cheque. This, of course, is the money shot in philanthropy porn such as in The Secret Millionaire but this just isn’t the case here – they’re told about the whole thing on the VT, they come to the studio and then they spend all of it just hanging round watching in the background. There is none to little pleasant shock value really.
  • It is as expected quite saccharine and yet as it stands I think it needs to go all out for it and appeal to old ladies or tone it down. Currently it operates on a middle ground I found a bit irritating, but this comes with the caveat that I’m a miserable bastard.
  • I love The Geth. He’s young and fun, and Sell Me the Answer suggested he’s a pretty good quiz show host as well – very good with people and audiences. Regrettably in a more formal show such as this his engaging personality didn’t really get a chance to shine I don’t think. I think it’s a shame that he appeared to be having more fun off camera with the pick-ups than shown during the actual recording bits.
  • It was a bit strangely un-12Yard that the mathematics of the game mean that you sometimes know if you’ve won or lost before the fifth question. In the show filmed tonight, the third player had an unassailable lead after four questions but still had to face the fifth one which was a bit of an anti-climax given the sums involved.
  • The show rather interestingly had five advert breaks. This means it’s either going to be longer than an hour (good luck with that) or that ITV are about to adopt the US break system (good luck with that, and also God help us all). Edit: Three parts and 45 minutes are planned.
  • Will it be a hit? I think older women will like it. I think it is too slow to appeal to a more mainstream audience (who may also not like the disconnect between the person answering the questions and the person receiving the money – people tend to like to watch a gamble but when playing on someone elses behalf everybody clammed up a bit). It’s not terrible, but it’s not killer. It failed the seat test, regrettably, but some people I overheard on the way out said they enjoyed it. Personally I think it’s got 3-3.5m written all over it, so make of that what you will.
  • All the evidence suggests this is a different show to the Dick de Rijk show You Deserve It! that’s also floating around currently – conflating the two is a mistake I have made but despite the similar premises they appear to be different formats.

It is late and I might remember some more in the morning, so stay tuned.

Gethin Jones also suggested, after a member of the audience heckled after the show, that Sell Me The Answer has been picked up in The States.

29 thoughts on “That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: Holding Out For a Hero

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    I should just add that it pains me a little bit not to be able to say that a new 12 Yard show is absolutely incredible, especially as Jellybean and PB have taken criticism quite well in the past and have still remained friendly. But as I’m sure you understand if it’s not honest then there’s no point in doing it. I do strive to be constructive, and also understand the show may come across differently on television than it does live in pilot stage.

  2. David

    Yeah, this doesn’t sound anything like You Deserve It..that one mentioned ten-clue puzzles and the person receiving the money doesn’t know about it until the end…

  3. Jellybean

    Thanks Brig, very very nicely explained! Just to address some points:

    The show will be 45 minutes with 3 breaks. We recorded A LOT more than we needed including extra breaks so that we had a load of options in the edit. Hopefully this will also cut down the time it takes to get to the first question as well. We’ve planned for 5 minutes including VT and intro.

    That being said, it’s a show with 15 questions so it will never motor through the game- if that’s your bag this is not the show for you. Also to some degree the format is designed so that people will take their time with the questions; it’s supposed to display the juxtaposition of how confident you would be of your answer if it was worth £1,000 compared to if it was suddenly worth £20,000.

    I agree this is very very very un-12yardy in format. You can see why I was so nervous, when it’s good it’s sooo good, but when it goes bad it’s a nightmare. Imagine if contestants 1 and 2 both ended in negative numbers…

    We went through many many variations of the format when we first created it, including a single player version. This one felt the most exciting, yet also had the worse potential for flaws.

    Initially we were going to do the surprise at the end in a secret millionaire pay-off, just as you said. If we are lucky enough to get a series we may end up doing that, however in rehearsals it did take away from the game play. People cared less about whether they lost because if they did then they never had to face their hero except to present them with £1,000. Thus we had loads of people just tripling (trebling- you’ll have to excuse me; I’m American) when they got anything over £15,000 for the hell of it. Having the Heroes did add much more tension and concern to the game. But as I say, that end surprise would be a massive pay off so we may change it!

    The tone of the show is a bitch to get right; trying to balance exciting game play with heart warming stories without us feeling like we’re exploiting people is very difficult and leads to a much more moderate tone (which I get for game show enthusiasts might feel a bit blah).

    Finally don’t know where people got the idea that You Deserve It! is anything like our format. I’m under the impression it’s the same layout as WWTBAM but with word puzzles instead of straight up questions. I saw the teaser and the tag line was “they’re definitely winning money, but the question is how much!” FYI for anyone wondering, our format was first, but Dick De Rick running around exclaiming how his show was going to be ‘the biggest show on the planet’ did help us to get a commission so I can’t knock it.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Yeah, it was announced at the same time and has the same premise, in my head I assumed you had licensed it from him or something. My mistake!

      45 minutes is the one show length I didn’t consider, and I think it plays in your favour.

      1. Jellybean

        If you think you’d be interested I’ll send you a copy of the pilot when it’s finished under the proviso that you can’t upload it onto the internet.

    2. Brig Bother Post author

      I agree this is very very very un-12yardy in format. You can see why I was so nervous, when it’s good it’s sooo good, but when it goes bad it’s a nightmare. Imagine if contestants 1 and 2 both ended in negative numbers…

      We went through many many variations of the format when we first created it, including a single player version. This one felt the most exciting, yet also had the worse potential for flaws.

      Actually something else I just thought of – if Player one plays very aggressively and has a great game, there is a good chance that Players 2 and 3 will have to gamble by doubling and trebling on answers they aren’t sure of which will be exciting, but if it goes wrong has the potential to end their games very quickly.

    3. CMD on his wife's computer

      Thanks for the look behind the scenes. I’m always relatively likely to be convinced by responses of “Well, we tried it that way, but…” to gameplay criticisms, and it is fascinating to hear the decision-making process.

      A question for Brig: two parts of the above apear to contradict each other, which might suggest I am not interpreting correctly. You say that each Hero is guaranteed GBP 1k, but also that “only the top amount will get paid out”. Does this mean that second place and third place earn GBP 1k regardless of how much their players won, whether negative or very close to the winning total?

      I’m not wild about the thought of many people with valid heartwarming stories not being rewarded, but GBP 1k is an entirely respectable consolation prize, and it’s not as if this show is the first or even nearly the worst in this regard – cf Whatever You Want, where 2/3 of the contestants won nothing.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Yes, losers are guaranteed a thousand (because we think all heroes should be rewarded), but only the top scorer gets to keep what they earn for their nommed hero, which potentally is six figures.

        1. The Banker's Nephew

          What happens if all three contestants end with either less than 1,000 or are in the negatives? Do they all just go home with the same amount, or does the winner get a bonus of some kind, like being pushed up to 2,000?

  4. David B

    Brig’s tweet:
    “Has anyone here got the clip from the UK Wheel Of Fortune, when a contestant spins the wheel the wrong way and breaks it?”

    I think that was on “It Shouldn’t Happen to a Game Show Host”.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Hmm, I’ve got that but don’t remember it. I will have a look – it’s a retweet from someone else.

  5. David B

    Brig, I notice Paul’s tweet actually says “Pilot will be 45 minutes with 3 ad breaks.” That’s four parts, right?

    I’m warning ITV and any other commercial channels now – if you start going to more than one break per 15 minutes, people will turn off and either download more or find other media that doesn’t have ads.

    I’m pleased the House of Lords is already on the case, with a recommendation of standardising seven minutes per hour for all channels whether terrestrial or digital, and disappointed OFCOM are loosening the rules on drama.

    Advert rules have already cut to shreds a lot of factual documentary shows on Ch4 and 5 – the Hotel Inspector and its ilk are unwatchable now – and I’d hate to see things get worse for other genres.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      You’re right, good spot – I assumed three parts and misread.

      BTW @12Yard is Jellybean @TVPB is Paul.

      1. Travis P

        Never knew @12Yard is actually Jellybean. Had the impression it was owned by some 12 Yard press officer.

  6. Joe

    Dear oh dear – what is it with ITV and sob stories. This show reminds me of Colour of Money in the sense that it sounds awfully slow (only 15 question in a whole episode!) and there’s the sob story factor. Gameshow fans will NOT like that. The hit primetime gameshows are nearly always the ones which have a simple format, no silly sob stories and plenty of questions and tension. Dragging out 15 questions over 45 minutes simply will not grip viewers in a competitive primetime slot on ITV. I predict ITV will bin this and give Control the full series (ITV are set to pick one or the other for a summer TX).

    1. Chris

      We’ll obviously ignore the international mega hit 101 ways to leave a game show which had the grand sum of 5 plus emergency exit questions and was forced to count down at jupiter seconds so as to not under run the slot…

      Yeah, those in glass houses should not throw stones :p

      1. Joe

        On reflection, 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow might not have been the success I was anticipating but it’s different to the aforementioned programme because it has the physical element to it, whereas Holding Out for a Hero is a traditional quizshow.

        12Yard is capable of very good shows including the brilliant Who Dares Wins which is one of my favourite gameshows of the last 5 years. But sometimes they get things very wrong (Colour of Money) and with respect, I don’t think Holding Out for a Hero sounds much better going by the pilot.

        I completely agree with Brig, incidentally, about surprising the recipient of the prize at the end of the show rather than at the start with a VT. It’ll make much better TV doing it at the end. But really – they need to tweak it more than just that, with importantly there needing to be more questions than just 15.

      2. Weaver

        Warning: derail ahead.

        As is moderately well-known, the surface of the planet Jupiter completes one rotation in a smidgeon under ten Earth hours, thus making a countdown of five Jovian seconds last approximately two of your Earth seconds. The year, of course, lasts for somewhat over 10,000 days.

        The correspondent may be referring to a Venusian second, which – thanks to the exceptionally slow rotational speed of the next planet to this one – last slightly less than two Earth minutes. There were complaints when television ad breaks started lasting for a whole five seconds – “Never mind making a cup of CFF, I could go out and pick the beans myself,” steamed one resident of South Ariadne.

        Men may be from Mars, but 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow (sic) was surely from Venus.

    2. Travis P

      If that is the case and ITV decide to go with Control then I can see Holding Out for a Hero being a BBC One show in the summer if they decide not to run Tonight’s the Night. I can even see it tweaking to go alongside the National Lottery Awards and have the contestants to play for their funded projects.

      Bit of a cheek to say “only 15 question in a whole episode”. When the best thing ever that is Super Million Pound Brillant Drop gets through 8-10 questions in an hour (with ads) and 1 Vs 100 (when it was airing) got through the same number of questions in 40 minutes.

    3. Brig Bother Post author

      Unfortunately where your argument falls down Joe (point about MPD having fewer not withstanding) is that Control only has six questions plus endgame in its 45 minutes/an hour.

      I do not think either show is going to set the world alight. Control is quite good fun but highly derivative and also lacks immediacy (it wasn’t until about half way through I was getting sucked into it) and has quite a lot riding on whether the public will take to the character of Control himself. Holding Out for a Hero has made some “interesting” production decisions, but I can see exactly what its audience is and it is quite ITV1.

      On BrigTV I comission Control. On ITV1 I largely suspect it is a bit more complicated. I believe I’m the only one here who has actually seen both.

      1. Paul B

        I’m not sure where you get your information, Joe, but I hadn’t heard anything about HOFAH and Control being in competition with one another.

        Was going to write more, but professionalism prevents me from doing so.

        P.S. Brig – have just been going through my computer as I prepare to depart CPL, and realized I never sent you the results of my Game Show Survey from last year as promised. I will try and put them in some coherent order and send them this afternoon. I should warn you that a) They’re based on a sample of I think 12 people and b) They don’t produce any particularly interesting conclusions but hey-ho.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Cheers Paul, I was going to get round to asking about that at some point.

          I didn’t bother doing it myself, mainly because I think coming up with hit shows is as much about luck as judgement.

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