I’m struggling…

By | October 21, 2012

…to find things worth posting about. Sorry.

Still, Fifty 50 Show is now on iTunes. About time, frankly. Me and Dan Peake recorded a hilarious insert for an upcoming episode on Wednesday, so listen out for that.

29 thoughts on “I’m struggling…

  1. CeleTheRef

    word is…
    Ettore Andenna, longtime Italian host of Jeux Sans Frontières was contacted by an unspecified international company as a consultant: looks like they are seeking to bring back JSF, but probably with a different name because the EBU is currently not involved in this.

    Reply
  2. Chris M. Dickson

    It was probably you who told me about the first round, but the final round of a vote to find “The Greatest UK Gameshow Theme Tune Ever…” is now in progress. It’s being run by FPTP, boo, when there probably ought to be a Zack Laurence (Lawrence?) coalition, or an Ed Welch coalition, winning it as a lifetime achievement award. Also, the wrong version of the Knightmare theme tune has made it for voting (the first; I voted for the third, though on reflection, that was wrong too – I should have voted for the second). Voting closes next Saturday.

    I would be happy if any of six of the final ten won. I presume that there will be 10000000000000 votes for the Blockbusters theme tune from people with initials C and R but you never know.

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  3. David Bodycombe

    I’ve added a formal “Request” for Bob’s Full House uploads at the cuboid-shaped site. Some additional votes wouldn’t go amiss if you have a moment.

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  4. Luke the lurker

    A few questions for those more in the know than me – do quiz shows ever tailor the order and difficulty of the questions to how the contestants are doing at the time?

    My first concern about this was with The Bank Job – partly because you needed a wirelessly connected iPad to ask the questions, and I didn’t see why they didn’t just have them stored on the device, and partly because with everything else going wrong I wondered whether they’d ask specific categories of questions in order to keep certain contestants in or get rid of them. (I know American Millionaire supposedly has a question somewhere in the second stage which is designed to trip up middle-aged white guys. Like that, but on the hoof.)

    But I’ve just been watching last night’s episode of The Chase, and noticed that a contestant got their first two wrong, the Chaser got to one behind, and suddenly a mysteriously easy question (in my opinion) turns up. Would it be kosher for them to do this to avoid the show running short, for example, or am I being needlessly paranoid?

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    1. Andy "Kesh" Sullivan

      I wouldn’t know either way, since I don’t work in any question writing capacity anywhere. I think it’d be highly unethical to tinker with the question stacks so certain people go through or certain people go out.

      As an example, in a YouTube comment on my Breakaway episode (I’ll stop going on about it soon, I promise!!!) someone thought that they probably put some very difficult questions at the end because the 2 previous shows had both given away over £5k each and didn’t want another big win. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say, but I can see how someone would find that a bit fishy.

      With The Chase, there have been times when contestants have been taken out quickly without them even getting a single question correct. I’m not an expert on these things by any means, but if my experience of the recording of Breakaway was anything to go by, they recorded over 2 hours of material with us, so if the game does run short, then I’d assume they’d just use some of the footage of banter between the host and players to fill in any remaining time. That’s my best guess.

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    2. Brig Bother Post author

      I’d be surprised if the question stacks for almost all shows weren’t set at the top of the recording (particularly The Chase which is independently adjudicated) but it’s also highly likely that if they’ve given away a lot recently then a set of more difficult questions will come out. Production companies are not charities, after all.

      Most shows don’t air in the order recorded so the effects can be well hidden.

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      1. David Bodycombe

        One side note here: BBC shows are budgeted on the basis that the contestants will win the ‘end game’ every time, and any surplus is given back at the end. This is a good system because it means there there is no outside pressure on the producers to ensure a certain winning or losing percentage because essentially the money has already been ‘spent’.

        Obviously, with things like Eggheads and Pointless, the prize money required is largely predictable in any case.

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        1. David Howell

          Which is presumably why every show the BBC have ever done in the big-money era, with the exception of 1 vs 100, has explicitly been set up so that it cannot possibly give away more than the £100k that IIRC is written somewhere as a sort of “soft cap” on prizes (exceeded only by the aforementioned 1 vs 100, the end-of-series prize on People’s Quiz, and by the unlimited-returning-champions rule on Who Dares Wins – and even that’s explicitly capped at £100k per episode).

          On the subject of games like Treasure Hunt being dragged out so that the inevitable is delayed a bit, a rather different invokation of that particular trope appears to be in place in UK DoND. In other countries the bank will throw in AMOs all over the shop if the game goes belly-up, in order to provide some sort of decision at the end (they still usually get declined anyway, which rather conveniently allows economists using the show as a multi-million-euro natural experiment to chalk up evidence for prospect theory over straight old-fashioned utility theory). Here, the Banker is more likely to lowball even by the board’s standards, to make sure that most bad games are at least in live play a little longer.

          (There’s a possibly-related issue, difficult to avoid without straddling games but more noticeable now than it used to be, that the pacing of an episode is a pretty decent internal spoiler – a really rapid start implies a big-money game, a really sluggish start implies the player’s gone before 8-box.)

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    3. David Bodycombe

      Well now, there’s a right old can of worms.

      Because UK producers have largely avoided the Standards and Practices regulations that our American cousins have been bound by for decades, there’s certainly a lot of wriggle room to be had. Even in these days of Safeguarding Trust, the BBC’s written regulations largely avoid spelling out specific measures other than there is a set of rules that should be followed and that the contestants should be treated “fairly”.

      I don’t think the Bank Job changed questions. They used an iPad because it looked cool. TV shows have been trying to put electronic gadgets in quizzes for years, while failing to note that it looks deeply impressive because, well, a lot of the audience will also have an iPad-type thing and may well be even watching the show on it there and then.

      However, I do think there are certain shows where there is an unseen hand on the tiller, and that’s usually in the player-vs-house formats. I’m calling out Million Pound Drop on this – you can bet that if a team’s lost £700k on question 3 there’ll be a soft question coming up next.

      Is this anything new, though? Producers will say that they’re just making an entertaining programme and viewers shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about manipulation of the result. I think it’s now common knowledge that Our Kenneth would help out the teams stuck on Treasure Hunt, but only when enough time had elapsed that the top prize could no longer be won. I dare say there was a certain amount of Deus Ex Machina in things like Knightmare and The Adventure Game.

      All in all, my thought is that you should give the contestants a certain challenge for them to beat; if it’s plain that they have little chance of winning, there’s probably not much harm in giving them some help for the purposes of entertainment as long as that won’t have a material chance of affecting the outcome. No one wants to see Anneka hovering in the same place for 17 minutes so I guess it was fair enough that the contestants got some help to keep the programme moving.

      I have a lot less sympathy if the opposite happens – i.e. a producer tries to make things harder than they had planned. If the contestant(s) are good, they should win easily regardless of whether the programme is exciting or not. There is a BBC regulation that basically says you shouldn’t fake things to make the outcome look more exciting than it really was.

      I have a big downer on situations involving several players or teams where particular categories or questions are aimed at certain people ‘to give them a chance’. I think it’s far better just to set up the questions blind of the participants and let nature take its course. Not only is it fairer, but also you can be surprised sometimes by what people do and don’t know. On OC, the questions are genuinely hidden behind the hieroglyphs they pick and I can go to bed soundly knowing that the game was fair.

      I do think too many radio panel games are rigged to high heaven for the sake of a smooth recording. One celeb I know told me that he was invited onto a literary quiz. Not only was he sent all the questions in advance but he was also given all the answers! He refused to play ball and said he didn’t know the answer to things he genuinely didn’t know before being told, much to the producer’s chagrin. But I’m with the celeb here – even in shows where there is no prize, the quiz has to be genuine or else you might as well just do a documentary or talk show and have done with it.

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      1. Gizensha

        “I dare say there was a certain amount of Deus Ex Machina in things like Knightmare and The Adventure Game.”

        …You mean other than stuff like the team that got a particularly leniant ruling on the serpant’s tongue in Series 3 Level 1, allegedly because ruling a defeat would have lost some recording time due to the next team’s transportation running behind schedule, all the help Treguard (Or, in one S1 case, Casper) gave seemingly so that quests weren’t ended on 0/3 riddles, though in some cases that seemingly being just “We haven’t given this team any help in any riddles yet, let’s throw them a bone” and the times scripted elements thrown in for variety meant teams didn’t have to do particular challenges (Though given the alternative of S1 not containing the Folly vs Cedric set piece…)?

        Yeah, there were DEMs strewn throughout the Dungeon of Deceit, but I don’t think any that were particularly egregrious… Possibly aside the shortcut to level 3… Thing. (Come to think of it, aside them getting lucky with S1 and able to let a quest they knew was going to end in a loss due to taking the wrong Level 3 Clue Room items run to it’s natural conclusion and then cut out a couple of rooms, did they ever manage to do a satisfactory season close? Things were always either cut short by the clock or they’d seem to throw in accellerators that just felt like a cheat, even if they made the bits that team got harder (as apparently was the case with the shortcut to level 3’s corresponding level 3))

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      2. Brig Bother Post author

        Actually Fort Boyard is lousy for this sort of thing these days, although it’s only something you pick up on if you’ve been watching long enough. Because they simply can’t have a team go clear through the key collecting stage to set up a visit with The Judge they’ll start throwing in all sorts of things – auto lock in games with tighter time limits than usual, in order to peg them back a bit. I find it annoying, I think you should have faith in your format to not require it, but whether the casual viewer cares, meh.

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        1. Gizensha

          Surely the problem with that is that the current segment between the keys and the clues requires a lock in – A problem with the current incarnation of the format, rather than them not trusting the format?

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          1. Brig Bother Post author

            A lock in or a lack of keys.

            Teams used to be able to earn bonuses if they got a clean run, it’d be nice if they could refind that aspect.

    4. tabstop

      I had the opinion (not based on first-hand evidence, obviously) that the wireless was needed so that George’s device could talk to the buzzer system and receive clock/score updates, and not so much for the questions.

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      1. Andy "Kesh" Sullivan

        Yeah, and Nick’s tablet computer on Breakaway seemed to relay other information to him other than the questions. I didn’t get to look at it so I don’t know what information he gets.

        Something that was cut from my show was a Life question. Nick read out the clues, and I buzzed in. Nick then addressed me to give the answer, but the light under my feet wasn’t lit, it was Jo’s instead. They stopped recording and Nick told them that his computer said I buzzed in first, yet Jo’s light was lit. In the end-up, they threw that question out and asked another one.

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      2. David Howell

        Chris’s screen on Millionaire is pretty much his guide for the entire show – for the taping I saw in 2008 (aired 2009) my seat had a good view of that screen, and it had things like pronunciation guides where needed, cues on when to throw to break (and one that read “END AFTER THIS QUESTION”, so he knows when the horns are going to sound), and of course the money tree and “you lose £x,000 if you’re wrong” calculations.

        For Breakaway and Bank Job, it makes sense that the host’s tablet would serve exactly the same purpose.

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  5. Alex McMillan

    Any word yet on what Only Connect specials will be after the final? Now we’ve had a team from University Challenge and Mastermind, what specialist quizzes will be next? The safe bet is probably Eggheads, although I have a feeling it will be Chasers, what with Mark Labbet already being a series champion.

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    1. David B

      It won’t be at least until the end of the series, or maybe the New Year, before we get to those. But in three weeks’ time we have our first celebrity special in aid of Children in Need. There are some great guests on it, including a game show COLOSSUS, so be sure not to miss it!

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      1. Alex McMillan

        Wonderful! Getting ahead of myself obviously, just now that we’ve got past the heats I am longing for the episodes where I knew some of the answers. The Children In Need special should help with that!

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  6. Kniwt

    And a mildly curious question about behind the scenes at last night’s Only Connect …

    When the Numerists surprised everyone by coming up with TIGER instead of AUTOGIRO, it looked like Victoria’s explanation was spliced in after the fact. Was this fixed some time later (and, presumably, causing the announcement of the final score to be patched, too)?

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  7. Gizensha

    It looked more like they’re was a pause in the recording while David double checked if Tiger was an acceptable answer to me, but I’d be interested in confirmation.

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    1. David B

      I don’t think we paused at the time because it was fairly evident that the scores wouldn’t matter. I checked it after the tape stop and then we re-took VC’s response and redid the scores before everyone was released.

      I can remember one time when an alternative cropped up with 30 seconds left on the game clock and we did down tools while the second possibility was checked, just to avoid any “You thought you’d won but now we’ve checked it you haven’t”-type ugliness.

      Reply

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