That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: The National Lottery Break the Safe

By | August 25, 2011

Right gang, this is the neat edited version (kisses keyboard):

  • When you go in, because it is a time critical game, all watches, mobile phones, mp3 players etc are confiscated from the audience by BBC Security.
  • Getting into the studio was a prompt affair although there was a lot of faffing before the recording got started. I don’t know how long, I didn’t have a watch. Warm-up was Johnny Cowling (I think?) – hadn’t come across him before. He was OK, basically a Cornishman on constant edge of a nervous breakdown.
  • The set (done in Studio 8, BBC geeks) has the contestant podiums down one end, a large safe down the other (basically a large box with a double slidey screen door), a large screen behind the contestants and a large screen floor. Hosts podium off center stage. A radar motif everywhere, and blue chaser dots either side of the stage like someone had just seen Bugs or something.
  • And who is the host? It is none other than F1 host and Saturday morning alumini Jake Humphreys. At the beginning of the recording he jokingly said that if anything went wrong it wouldn’t be his fault. Well fair play to him, apart from one thing I think he got it right first time every time, practically.
  • Three couples (by coupe we mean any two people with a pre-existing relationship – friends, family, lovers) put their relationships to the test in order to break the safe. At the beginning of the show the safe is locked and a 36 minute countdown started. Two teams fall by the wayside, the winners will open the safe by hitting deactivation buttons during the one second the countdown hits zero. To make it more difficult the clock will disappear with thirty seconds remaining.
  • If that sounds familiar to long term readers of the Bar, that’s because it’s practically exactly the same premise as Dick and Dom’s The Clock is Ticking we saw over four years ago (31st May). Oh yes, there’s going to be a format where people count to thirty in their head whether we like it or not.
  • Round one is a quickfire round. Each team’s podium is split vertically in two and can move backwards and forwards via pneumatics – ooh yes. This round is played twice, each time one player is in charge of the buzzer, the teammate is moved to the bak. Each question requires two answers, the buzzee gives one of them but their partner has to give the other (help me Punters – what other show did this? – Edit: Perfect Strangers thanks Paul). This goes on for two minutes  -right answers worth a grand, wrong answers freeze you out of the next question (except they evidently hadn’t rigged the buzzer system to freeze people out properly). Repeat with the roles reversed and the value upped to two grand. Lowest total is out. Winning scores are combined and put in the prize fund, a camera pointed into the safe shows bundles of cash being pushed on a table by more pneumatics for no discernable reason.
  • The quickfire bit could have been a bit better – it might be useful for Jake to offer an ‘and?’ once one person gives their answer, partly to fill dead air, partly to eliminate partner confusion. Also he forgot to mention the freezing out quite a lot which you just shouldn’t do (in fact the only pick up at the end of the show was several variations on this theme).
  • Round two is worth potentially £70k. Three questions are asked to each couple, again alternating after each question. Each time the person at the back writes their answer on screen. The person in front can answer the question or if they trust their partner let them answer it for double money, potentially 10k, 20k and 40k. This sounds as though it should lead to some interesting decisions, but really it’s all about if you go for the 40k or not. Again, lowest total disappears. Winning total added to the prize fund.
  • Lottery break at this point. In case you’re wondering yes the clocks that adorn the safe and floor are realtime, although they jump here the length of the lottery insert.
  • Final round, it’s time to break the safe. They’re offered the opportunity to increase the amount of time the safe will remain unlocked for. A category comes up, the pair decide who wants to take it. Each correct answer earns an extra second, but you can’t individually answer more than two of the four. Time decided there’s some filling whilst the clock ticks down to thirty (a wall decends between them) then it’s game on. The big clocks disappear. Simply they must both push their buttons when they think the clock has hit zero. They lose if either of them hit early, but they can be late by as much time as they earnt and to win both of them must be in that zone. Another lottery break.
  • Now the reveal. On either side of the safe are five sets of lights, one for each potential second each player could ring in. Jake enquires if Player A rang in during the first winning second. Lengthy pause, then the lights turn red or green for failure or success. Then repeat for Player B. Then repeat for up to eight more times in what must rank as one of the most tedious reveals in television (seriously, what would have been wrong with BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM, with each BOOM representing a second?). The reveal on Clock is Ticking was boring but quick. The reveal here here look’s pretty but is as tedious as anything. And they didn’t even win! (Incidentally bonus points to Jake for being honest with the audience in pointing out it’s just a pilot and there isn’t actually thousands of pounds being played for – you’d be surprised how many pilot audience members don’t realise this and get a bit pissed off that they’ve had the wool pulled over their eyes when they out it’s not for real).
  • Audience response seemed to run the gamut. My main feeling was it’s probably about time they turned The Waiting Game with Ruby Wax into a lottery show. On the plus side, it was meant to finish at 10pm, we were out by 9:10, so that was nice.
  • The show is a Talkbalk Thames production.


22 thoughts on “That’s Yer (Pi)Lot: The National Lottery Break the Safe

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    I will probably go through this and correct the numerous mistakes when the Megaamazeocomputer arrives tomorrow. I love my iPad, but not for writing essays on.

  2. Redux

    I’m not sure about the original game show mentioned (Malcolm maybe?) but the concept reminded me of the fake game show Dual Duel from “Our House”… I can’t find any clips or mentions because some kids’ show with the same name has supplanted it in the mind of the Internet 🙁

  3. Simon Joseph Lott

    “The bonus game involved guessing six phrases in sixty seconds. Each phrase was in two single word halves and a clue to each half was shown. In early shows, one player had to solve the first part, and their partner the second part, but this changed in later runs so that either player could offer either part, with their partner was stuck with the remaining part. There was no conferring allowed.”

    What I wrote on the UKGS page for ‘Jacpot’ when I added to previously sparse details of Welsh shows last year… and sounds similar to the quickfire first round in Brig’s report? I think so.

  4. Jennifer Turner

    My favourite mistake is “bonus points to Jake for being honrdt with the audience” because I initially interpreted it as “being horny with the audience”, which I’d like to see… actually, no, I definitely wouldn’t.

  5. Paul Brassey

    I’m pretty sure Celador’s Perfect Strangers is the show you’re thinking of. Despite the early finish I think this is Endemol, right?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Yes I think you’re right with the picture round, looking it up.

      I actually have no clue who is behind this – they’re just referredvto as ‘the production company’ on the website, and I can’t say I recognised any Endemol regulars milling around.

      1. Paul B

        Ah, ignore me. Am reliably informed it’s actually Talkback, who also did the Dick ‘n’ Dom one.

  6. KP

    Is it just me or has there been a lot more in the way of shows with couples as contestants in the last year or so? Is that at all reflecting a perception of society based upon the change of Government? I think this is Weaver’s territory. At least this makes good use of two contestants (whereas MPD could work just fine as a single-player game and so could Secret Fortune).

    From this report, I’d place it below 1 vs 100 and above In It on the hierarchy of lottery formats, probably about level with Jet Set. It’s got to be an awful lot better than High Stakes, I’m sure of that.

    1. Alex

      They had one single player game of MPD in the first series and, in that format at least, it was much less entertaining.

    2. Brig Bother Post author

      I’d suggest that relationship testing games are as old as time itself, here I may have been uncleae as to the nature of couples, it’s like MPD – friends, family members and, yes, lovers all apply.

    3. Weaver

      KP asked,

      Is it just me or has there been a lot more in the way of shows with couples as contestants in the last year or so?

      There’s been The Million Pound Drop, there’s been Secret Fortune, and Camp Orange, and now this. But there has long been Who Dares Wins, and Mr and Mrs, Miss, Or Mr really reqires couples.

      Is that at all reflecting a perception of society based upon the change of Government?

      The null hypothesis, I suppose, is something like “is that at all reflecting Heathrow Terminal 5?” I don’t think the fact of Westminster government by the tree and the bird has helped to promote games involving existing couples. If anything, it would surely encourage the juxtaposition of opposites, as seen on WDW and Perfect Strangers.

      I think this is Weaver’s territory.

      Hello. Er, society gets reflected in game shows, and game shows have a lot about couples. Perhaps a lot more than they did about five years ago, but the zeroth rule of More or Less applies: correlation is not causation.

      It could be that these recessional times are drawing people together; it could be that the prior boom concentrated on the individual rather than the group. Or it could just be that there aren’t that many strong formats that work better when played by couples than by single players or large groups, or it could be that a few have come out at once and we’re spotting a pattern indistinguishable from random chance.

      In short, the observation is accurate, the conclusion may not be. More research is needed.

      1. David B

        The short answer is probably that, since there is a trend recently for quizzes where the contestants mull their answers out loud, it’s generally preferable to have someone to mull with.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          I’d suggest there’s no real mulling here though, sure they play as a team but it’s a team where people play basically individually.

  7. James E. Parten

    KP may be onto something here!

    Over here, “Minute To Win It” has settled into a couples format, with the couples sometimes having a relationship (father-daughter, boss-employee) and sometimes not. Other, better ideas tried out during the show’s experimental period (approximately a year ago), such as the “Last Man Standing” format and having bonuses for completing certain stunts, have been left by the wayside.

  8. Pingback: BBC Shelves “Secret Fortune”; Orders “Break the Safe” | BuzzerBlog

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    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Alan Tyler said: “Break the Safe has the potential to be a gripping watch. The pilot felt nerve jangling and fresh in equal measure and we are excited to be commissioning this for the BBC One audience.”

      Not from where I’m standing it didn’t.

  10. John R

    Is there any lottery show Nick Knowles won’t turn down?! Not that he’s a bad presenter or anything, I assume he isn’t allowed to buy a lottery ticket though ;).

    On a related note, have the BBC scrapped the Wednesday and Friday night Lottery draw shows?

    1. Weaver

      The Wednesday and Friday draws are “no longer televised”, in the formulation preferred by Camelot. The new year brought a new contract, and the Beeb decided that they would only pony up for the Saturday night draws. Saves a few quid to invest in proper programming.

      Friday’s Euro-squillions draw certainly has been around the houses – Sky has had it, I think it popped up on UK Gold and Channel 5 at other points, before coming to rest on the BBC.


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