Alexander Armstrong’s Big Ask

By | April 6, 2011

This records this evening, if anyone is going do let us know what you think.

Edit: No-one has, so there’s some stuff about Red and Black in the comments, along with miscellaneous things.

It also seems a good time to remind everybody that it’s BotherSOP Sunday this Sunday and also next Sunday, which is also the second Deepstack Doubler – double the stack, double the points, double the cash. Do join in.

56 thoughts on “Alexander Armstrong’s Big Ask

  1. Jennifer Turner

    There are ways around the paywall, but it’s easier to just cut and paste, so here’s what Broadcast says about Simon Cowell’s You Bet!:

    Simon Cowell and ITV are creating an epic gameshow in which thousands of contestants compete to win a million pounds – on the spin of a roulette wheel.

    Broadcast can reveal that the broadcaster is close to finalising a commission that will see Cowell’s television business Syco TV team up with ITV Studios to make Red And Black.

    The two companies are investigating methods for how several thousand initial contestants are identified, which may include a competition element.

    Those who are successful will be granted access to an arena where they will all get the opportunity to bet on a number of showpiece events, which will produce one of two different outcomes.

    Details of the events remain sketchy, but it is known that over the course of a week the contestants will be whittled down to just one, who will place a bet on red or black to win £1m on the spin of a roulette wheel.

    The show, likely to be hosted by Ant and Dec, has been earmarked to be stripped over a week in September. Sources familiar with the situation said Wembley Arena is being explored as a possible venue. “This will be big, noisy and expensive,” said one industry insider.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Mmm, this was announced a little while ago. How they are going to whittle down thousands to one single person using fifty/fifty events is going to be interesting to find out, especially if they always get a free choice to select the outcome.

      1. Darren

        It wouldn’t take too many, actually, if you do the math. 5 eliminations that cut half the field get you down to 30 already.

        I seem to recall that there was a Japanese quiz show that did something similar — hundreds of people sat on one side of a soccer arena or the other depending on which way they wanted to answer a trivia question. If you went on the wrong side, you lost.

        1. Darren

          Check that — that’s if you start with 1000. Multiple thousands will pad that a bit.

          1. Alex

            One of the opening rounds, probably.

            Challengers of Fire, the show that came up with Denryu IraIra Bou had that. The last survivor won a million yen. Either that or it was whoever could survive a certain number of questions. Knowing the bastard nature of the show it was probably the latter.

    2. Joe

      That show sounds very bad. What successful primetime gameshows have there been in the last decade where there is no skill, quizzing involved but just pot luck? None that I can think of. The Colour of Money bombed for a reason and that description of Red or Black doesn’t sound promising.

      1. Chris

        I mean Endemol Formats would never in their dreams rely entirely on luck let alone a game about boxes – I mean who the hell would watch that…


          1. Joe

            I said “primetime” gameshows. People expect different things for a primetime gameshow than a daytime gameshow.

            I would be ripping apart a format like this if it was an Endemol primetime show too. That is not an issue to me. I just don’t think it sounds like something which would work, particularly something as drawn out as this will be over 7 days.

          2. Brig Bother Post author

            I’m inclined to agree, I think – the stunts are going to have to be pretty interesting and spectacular to make up for the fact no-one is going to give a damn as to who is going to win, although doubtless the ratings for the final evening will do alright.

          3. Chris

            Take your Pick is a primetime gameshow but I digress

            It will be interesting what the rules are for the final spin

            Is it a guaranteed winner – two players pick colours – one wins or just one player trying their luck

            Could be an interesting downer if after all that nobody ends up winning!

          4. Brig Bother Post author

            I hadn’t considered it might be two people against each other, I think I’ve seen it suggested that it’s going to be one against the house.

            What if it comes up green?

            FUN FACT: A colleague of mine is chums with Ashley Revell, the guy who bet everything he had on red or black which was shown on Sky One.

          5. David B

            I would presume a winner is chosen via red/black, and then the winner gets a chance to (e.g.) double or nothing via a final spin of the wheel?

          6. Gizensha

            Brig, I’d presume they’ll be using the French Wheel rather than the US Wheel, with only one 0 and where red/black bets on a 0 carry over (sorta, iirc it’s ‘so if it comes up this time it’s considered a tie’) rather than are lost, since this is a British rather than American gameshow…

      2. Des Elmes

        How about Winning Streak? 😆 😆 😉

        It’s dominated Saturday nights on RTE1 for the last two decades and has always been entirely pot luck…

      3. Score

        Except in its 2006 heyday Deal or No Deal was getting 4 million (and occasionally more) on Saturdays at 7pm. It all depends on the execution of it, and Ant and Dec will add to its ratings (I daresay Push The Button would have been at 3-3.5m or lower without them).

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I’m surprised this sort of thing doesn’t happen a bit more often to be honest. Or at least that we’d get to hear about.

  2. David B

    Bit of an edit error in the first round of Pointless today – they showed you a shot of the selection board with the score of the first question already revealed.

  3. Kylie

    **Cough** This will probably start on Easter Saturday!

    Don’t Scare The Hare
    New this week
    Day and time to be confirmed BBC ONE

    Jason Bradbury hosts an innovative new family game showHosted by Jason Bradbury, Don’t Scare The Hare is an innovative new family game show packed with humour, jeopardy – and a 4ft animatronic robot hare. It promises fun and games that will have the whole family gathered around the television and laughing out loud.

    In Don’t Scare The Hare two teams of visitors are invited down to the hare’s extraordinary underground forest to take part in a series of physical and mental challenges. If they’re successful, they could be leaving this weird and wonderful world with a fantastic stash of cash, as long as they remember one crucial rule – Don’t Scare The Hare.

    The two teams must avoid scaring the cautious yet inquisitive hare as they compete across several rounds of entertaining large-scale challenges and games, each one full of traps and pitfalls specifically designed to give the hare a fright.

    A handy £15,000 is at stake in the show’s dramatic finale and, with the hare having an unpredictable personality, things are not going to be easy for the teams.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Thanks Kylie.

      I am actually intrigued by the prospect of this – that the pilot was complete rubbish is common knowledge, but it’s been almost 18 months and it sounds and looks as though it’s changed considerably. I will try and come at it with an open mind, certainly.

    2. Travis P

      I’m sure I’ve read somewhere it will go in the 5.30pm slot, like Hole in the Wall used to.

      It does confirm my theory the Lottery will be taking a break from their shows since there won’t be any room as Don’t Scare the Hare, Doctor Who, So You Think You Can Dance? and Casualty will fill up the Saturday evening schedule. If it is the case then they will have learned their lesson from 2010.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Jason Bradbury said himself it would be early evening, so it’s likely to be the same sort of slot as Total Wipeout I’d have thought.

      2. Weaver

        Schedule watch for 23 April shows an 80-minute TBA on the Saturday evening, 1725-1845, which strongly suggests Hare will be leading into CBBC’s Dr Who. Then 75 minutes of So You Think… You Can Dance, the long-awaited return of Nick Knowles to Saturday nights in Who Dares Wins, Casualty, and some unfunny comedy until the late evening news.

        Elsewhere, Sing If You Can is 1900-2000, followed by Britain’s Got Talent and Piers Moron’s Life Stories. BBC2 has snooker, Channel 4 something to be announced, and BBC Parliament a lecture on the life of David Lloyd George, don’t forget to miss that, it’s dull.

  4. Des Elmes

    Some sad news from the world of Countdown: former lexicographer Richard “The Mighty” Samson passed away a few weeks ago, aged just 47, following a battle with lung cancer.

    After leaving the show in 2003 when Susie became just too popular (and that of course is not saying anything bad about her at all), he worked for Lonely Planet, and became general manager for their Asia-Pacific region in 2009.

    His declining health forced him to retire in mid-2010, after which he chronicled his final months in this blog:

    Rest in peace Richard.

  5. Travis P

    Million Pound Drop on twitter confirms the new series will air on Friday/Saturday nights for six weekends, twelve shows in total.

  6. Chris G

    I went to the recording of Big Ask. Griff Rhys Jones, Katy Brand and Robert Webb were the panellists. 2 hours of recording for what I guess will become a half-hour show.

    The recording was, as can be imagined, very entertaining but it’s hard to tell whether it will edit down to a coherent half-hour.

    (Although I also went to the recording of the pilot of Argumental (or “Bare Knuckle Bun Fight” as it was called at the time) and I wouldn’t have given that odds on making it to the small screen!)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Mmm, thanks Chris G, I know Geek Comedian Tom Scott who occasionally posts here went to the original Big Ask pilot when it was called something else (the name of which escapes me, “X was a Goalie” where X was the name of a person I think it was) and said it was OK.

      1. Weaver

        Obvious. It’s Play Your Cards Right Extreme!

        Three couples arrive, but the audience will vote one off the show before a single card is turned in angle. The remaining two must attempt to shorten the run of higher-or-lower guesses by achieving a death-defying stunt, such as jumping through a wall of fire, or carbon-dating one of Bruce Forsyth’s jokes.

        And, thanks to budget cuts, the top prize is now a brand new can.

  7. Chris M. Dickson

    Sky Arts – who, lest we forget, televised celebrity Contract Bridge not so long ago – are sponsoring six arts organisations to the tune of up to £200k each over the next three years. One of the FAQs reads

    We’ve got a pretty ‘out there’ idea – what’s your limit?

    We like a challenge. We thrive on pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. So, be as innovative and creative as you like but remember that it must be a new approach or production as we want to help you create something truly unique.”

    Accordingly, I would love someone to propose a game show as art. Not about art, but as art. It’d be definitely a new approach and certainly would be well-positioned to take advantage of having BSkyB as a partner.

    Boo to Rupert Murdoch and all that, but.

    1. David B

      Interesting thought. The best I can think of is a kind of Only Connect meets 24 Hour Quiz where every so often (e.g. every minute, 5 minutes, whatever) a quiz question is asked. Every question is linked in some way to either a previous question or a previous topic of conversation betwixt the questions.

      The topics/answers to these questions could be plotted on a huge long timeline as an example of how one thing leads onto another, or (in the case where sometimes it’s necessary or desirable to branch off into different directions) possibly as a tree instead.

      It would require some fairly nifty on-the-fly question compilation but it would not be beyond the wit of man to do it.

      1. Gizensha

        What about something of a Nomic reality gameshow? Six (for example) contestants are in a room, every fifteen minutes the next in order proposes a new Rule and the contestants have five minutes to vote on said rule. If you’re asleep for your nomination, it skips you, if the other contestants are asleep when you nominate, they lose their vote. See what happens.

    2. David B

      Another thought would be to do some kind of online version of “Runaround” with people represented as many, many user icons on a huge projected field, and it would just look cool watching everyone run around the playing area within the time limit.

    3. Chris M. Dickson

      It occurs to me that BSkyB have that nice virtual 3-D studio as seen in, er, Sky Poker and Sub-Zero, and not really anywhere else. I wonder if there’s anything more interesting to be done with the technology than Sub-Zero ever managed – or would something truly remarkable require so much world-building as to be outwith a £200k biscuit?

      Likewise, BSkyB are capable of broadcasting in something that approximates to 3-D via appropriate televisions for some, probably most, pairs of eyeballs. I wonder if there could be a game show that would genuinely benefit from this? Wonga on The Big Breakfast was overtly a three-dimensional game, but it would be the very lightest of art and the presentation did not particularly suffer from being a two-dimensional representation of three dimensions. (And yet I wouldn’t mind seeing it back.) Three-dimensional puzzles? Can’t see it myself, but it might be a starting point.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        It occurs to me that BSkyB have that nice virtual 3-D studio as seen in, er, Sky Poker and Sub-Zero, and not really anywhere else.

        The news, surely?

      2. David B

        Given how well it works on the Nintendo 3DS, I would certainly agree it’s an avenue worth exploring.

        1. Chris M. Dickson

          I wonder if Sky’s 3-D technologies permit a more interesting and more convincing version of the optical illusions and magic tricks game show concept that people have kicked around over the years? It might be interesting if there were things *waves hands* a bit like Magic Eye photos that are enabled by one or the other. For instance, I can remember reading about a puzzle/game (damned if I can remember where, or what it’s called…) where the player is presented with what looks like a load of visual noise, but they have a camera which can explore it in three dimensions. The aim of the game is to find the right camera angle which makes a deliberate and recognisable image pop into view, and discern what it is. Now this probably can be done with the player controlling a camera in the virtual 3-D studio, but that’s not very interesting; I wonder if there’s a way that not only could the player on-screen enjoy the orientation challenge to reveal the mystery image, but – I’m really struggling and failing to understand the capabilities of domestic 3-D TV here – some way that the viewer at home could play along with the image that they see on their screen and the angle at which they view it?

          In some ways, the less of a game it is, the more of an art piece it is… :-/

          1. Gizensha

            Televise a Go match, which should be both very much a game and very much art (…Though you could argue that I, personally, am in love with the craftmanship rather than the artistry of Go’s design…)

          2. CMD

            …and they say that Chess is difficult to follow for those who don’t play the game, and thus the explanations in The Master Game stylee were required. 😀

            I love the way you’re thinking (lots of work for lovely people!) though fear it would turn out to be a documentary about Go and Oriental aesthetics with people making some moves every so often in the background. The membership of the British Go Association is measured in three digits, I think, rather than four or five, so it would be niche to say the least. Dialling the game content down may be quite a good way to make it commissionable, but would also make it expensive.

            I’m very curious to know what sort of match you had in mind. There is precedent, I think, for holding one game in one of the best-of-5 / best-of-7 title matches, where the time limits might be 5 hours (some tournaments, even 8 hours) per player, in another country, and I think there was such a game in the UK once. Alternatively, the UK has a team doing very moderately in the European Team Championship, just below mid-table in the middle division of three, and you could televise one match there to play up the sporing angle. (Alternatively alternatively, you could have two British players involved, and you could start off worse than with a clash of the generations: MacFadyen vs. Brookes.)

            Commission x 361 as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t see it happening myself, unless one of the poker companies decide they want to start sponsoring it.

          3. Gizensha

            …That was intended purely as a pithy remark dismissing the concept that the more like art something is the less like a game it would neccessarially become. And while I like the craftmanship of the game I know very little about the competitive Go scene.

            …Maybe using ‘Televise Braid’ as my example rather than something I’d quite like to see, actually, would have made what I was intending to say more obvious? 😛

        2. Gizensha

          The trouble is that while the current view angle required by the technology is both approrpriate and adequate for a handheld, the requirement to sit in a very specific spot seems to be significantly restricting the take-off of 3d televisions…

          …Would be interesting, yes, but I’m not convinced there’s enough audience take-off to make it worthwhile to do even on a channel dedicated to a small niche.

  8. Daniel

    I know it’s not everyone is interested in it, but apparently NEW Ninja Warrior begins on Challenge next month (two and a half years after the last new series). Does this mean that Sky are finally attempting to turn the channel around? Challenge in new commission shocker.

    1. Travis P

      Is the Ninja Warrior thing for definite? I know they do change the listings at the last minute (pulling Wipeout from the schedule).

      They’ve already started with new acquistions. We are now seeing new episodes of Eggheads (now less edited for a 35 min slot) and In It to Win It with the lotto show they’re now up to 2009.

  9. Daniel

    It was an email from Sky ‘Customer Help’:
    “…And in May we have brand new Ninja Warrior, which will be a UK premiere, and new 8 Out of 10 Cats to Challenge.”

    And: “We are also new content to freshen up the schedule and will be looking to start airing these in the coming months; this will include both acquisitions and brand new commissions.”

    Not sure what they meant in the start of that sentence. “We are also ‘LOOKING FOR’ new content” or “We have new content”?

    1. Gizensha

      They’re going to be using photos of their production team as content?

  10. K.

    Late to the party, but I was at the recording for Big Ask – I enjoyed it, though I’m sure the parts I enjoyed the most are the parts that won’t make it to broadcast. I don’t think any of Robert Webb’s elongated ramblings on Frankenstein will make it, more’s the pity. One of those things I wish could be an hour or so to fit in parts that were fun if not necessarily vital, but I suppose it’ll only be half an hour long… (or maybe 45 minutes? We’ll see)

    I don’t know if this is documented elsewhere or not, but according to PGPowell on Twitter, the pilot will be broadcast on May 30th, so there’s that to look out for. I wonder what sort of interest it would take for it to make it to a full series? I’d be perfectly content watching Alexander Armstrong talk to comedians in comfy chairs, but I’m easily-pleased…

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Cheers K, it’s surprising how often the bits they don’t broadcast tend to be more entertaining than the bits they do with regards to panel shows. I think there’s a brilliant show to be had involving just comedians chatting without any sort of format to hang off.


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