Watching Telly: 5 Minutes To A Fortune

By | March 14, 2013

Friend of the Bar Martyn With A Y Not An I went and saw this yesterday and I think it sounds very encouraging, he wrote this:

  • I guess you would call it a crash between Minute To Win It (short snappy rounds) and the first round of The Krypton Factor (speed thinking puzzles) and, bar one minor irritation, isn’t a bad show. Given the amount of shows being recorded (including the envitable celeb specials) it does give the impressionthat Channel 4 are hoping for good things for this.
  • Studio. Probably the last gameshow to be recorded in TC8 at the BBC Television Centre. Audience sit out of shot (just) at one end – the seating is split into two sections by a huge back projection lit screen. There is a nice multi-coloured star cloth wrapped around the set, and on the centre of the studio floor a eye shaped raised stage, leading to a small curved walkway, and a further small circular stage at the back of this with a icewhite podium/plinth with a large red button/dome on it. To the right of this, hanging down from the lighting grid is a very large screen, and futher to the right of this, is our rather large silver and perspex eggtimer, on a small raised stage with a HD screen at the base of it. The egg timer is filled with what we are led to believe are 50,000 plastic coins.
  • Music and Graphics. Lots of reds yellows and whites in the graphics. Music – strings and pulsing tension drums, which don’t sound like it’s from the keyboard
    of Marc Sylvain (for once).
  • Host – Davina McCall in usual form. Matey, chummy, tactile, shouty, consoling. And there is an unseen ‘voice of god’ question reader, who sounds like Gideon Coe off of BBC Six Music.
  • A team of two play over 6 or 7 rounds. One chooses the rounds/subjects to play and how long to give his mate to answer the 5 questions, and then during those rounds, goes and stands behind the icewhite podium. The other, stands at the end of the stage, facing the audience (so has their back to the podium),  and the big centre screen answering the questions. Davina stalks menacingly behind the question answerer. To take home the £50,000, they have to complete 5 rounds within 5 minutes, and navigate the final round and answer that in lightning quick time.
  • At the start of the game, they are presented with 7 vague question categories. These can be things like ‘bookworms’ ‘telly addicts’ ‘political animals’ etc. Podium mate (lets call him that) chooses the category for question mate. Then he must decide how much of the 5 minutes, to allocate to play on that round. It is a free choice how much or little you take out to play the round, but with the ever decreasing amount of time left as the game goes on, common sense says most will opt to take 1 min per round.
  • So, let’s say the chosen category is ‘number cruncher’ and 1 minute is allocated to this round. Gideon reads out (and is demonstrated on screen) an example… Four numbers are displayed at the bottom of the screen – eg – 2, 5, 9 , 12. In each case, the question mate has to reorder the numbers in alphabetical order to how they are spelt, so the answer would be – Five, Nine, Twelve, Two. He has to do this 5 times within the minute. If yes, well done. However, with 10 seconds of the pre-set time limit remaining, the egg timer slowly turns over,  and when the round time limit is reached, the coins slowly start to drain out. When the 5 questions have been answered, the egg timer stops dropping the coins.
  • The player is allowed to pass as many times as they wish, and a new question is given. Passed on questions are not returned to – but the answers are revealed once the round is completed. It’s worth pointing out, that no matter how quickly the questions are answered, time saved by being quick and correct is useless because the time remained on the clock when each round finished is not returned. So if you choose in the first round 90 seconds to complete it, and you use 45secs, the team would still get 3.30 left for round two, rather than 4.15. [Brig’s note: this makes perfect gameplay sense, otherwise you’d just choose “all the time you have left” every round]
  • At the end of each round, if the egg timer has released some of the coins, these are released and counted, and the amount lost is revealed, and then, that amount is deducted from the running total.
  • Now, podium mate does have a part to play during the actual question answering phase of the game, because only once during any of the rounds, he can press the dome button on top of the plinth which acts as an ’emergency stop’ button for the round if question mate is sinking, and getting into a spiral of passes. If the stop button is pressed, the game stops, but if it’s pressed before the egg timer flips around, then any of the cash is saved. The only other penalty is that podium mate doesn’t choose the next round, that is ‘chosen at random’ from the ones left.
  • This is played in the same way until all five rounds (or 6 if the emergency stop button was pressed) have been played, and then one final round for the money. Here though, it’s roles reversed and it’s podium mate who will be playing and there is no choice of category, but belongs straight out of ‘Who Dares Wins’. To win, they have to provide 5 answers based on a list. There is no physical time limit – but there is a cash limit, because they are playing up against the remaining coins left in the egg timer. As soon as the question is revealed, the egg timer flips over and the coins start draining away, until all five answers have been provided, or, all the cash drains away. Fin. Clap, end credits.
  • I was slightly concerned during recording that after each round Davina threw to a break, which would make it hard work to watch and follow on television, as most rounds only last between 2-4 mins. But it was just done that way to allow an edit point. Now, to please some around here – game rollovers from one day to the next will happen and some shows will feature more than one team of contestants. Which makes a nice change.
  • With the format, my main deflated feeling (other than walking past empty deserted rooms on the way to the studio) was that it’s no good advertising the team can win £50,000 – when it’s plainly obvious that it’s almost impossible to. To win it, you would need to nail the five rounds in under the 5 mins, and then shout out 5 answers in the final in around 5 seconds before the eggtimer flips over and the cash starts to fall away. I guess the average win will end up being £1,000 – £5,000 and going home with zero are possible.
  • Another issue I had was there was no sliding scale of difficulty with the questions. Some were fairly easy, and lightweight knockabout fun and some are quite tough for a 5pm quizzer.
  • The political animal round was a series of made up e-bay style adverts selling something that would identify the politician/statesman, which the contestant had to name – i.e – “for sale a 2nd Jaguar car, previous owner doesn’t need it anymore after last general election”. Pretty easy to play at home.
  • Give another couple of round examples – the pop music round consisted of the first line of song lyrics, with the spellings of each of the words, except either the first or last word jumbled up, and the contestant had to give the song title. Tricky. The film round was to name 5 movies based on credits – main male/female lead, writer and director scrolling up the screen. Throw in the reordering based on how it’s spelt or by saying the colour it is in, and you have a slightly jarring mix of shout out with minimum of thinking, to concentrating quite hard.
  • And that’s it. 2 hours later, a few pick-ups, a couple of enivitable computer system breakdowns and we were let lose back into Wood Lane. It’ll be quite a nice little show once edited, but I am slightly worried up against the pincer movement of Pointless and The Chase, at 5pm this may get a little lost which would be a shame.

I’m actually going to be watching an episode so find out how much I agree… soon! Thanks Martyn.

Edit: I went and saw this earlier today, here’s some stuff I observed.

35 thoughts on “Watching Telly: 5 Minutes To A Fortune

  1. David Howell

    I’m not convinced this is aimed at 5pm you know, I think this is 4pm filler during the DoND summer break with a view to being a future full-time replacement.

    And I wouldn’t wildly object if it is, I sense. This looks good, and seemingly ticks the “cheaper than it sounds at first” box that’s obligatory for all daytime shows now. As long as we get the odd win over twenty grand it’ll work.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I don’t have any idea where it will end up, although I do know it’s going to be on weekdaily with celebrity specials (for £100k) at weekends.

      1. Trudy Castro

        I went for an audition for this show and they said it would be going up against The Chase and Pointless

    2. Mart with a Y not an I

      I assume it was for 5pm – but now you mention it, I suppose it could be holiday cover for Deal Or No Deal. Doubt it’s been being thought of for the long term replacement for DOND. Hard work for the question setters if it does.

      One amendment to my recording report (such is the danger of writing it after a longer than expected day)

      If the emergency stop button is not pressed in the five rounds, then the ‘podium mate’ will get a choice of two categories for his final round for the money, so tactics will come into play, because (s)he will be naturally inclinded to keep a ‘home subject’ back for the final round – which will lead to landing ‘question mate’ which a stinker of a subject, somewhere along the way.

      But, when the emergency stop button is pressed, podium mate doesn’t get to choose the category in the next round, that is chosen at ‘random’.
      As happened at my recording, the next round subject was one that podium mate was going to keep back for himself for the final round, as this was discussed out loud when the 7 were first displayed on the big screen.
      Hence, my sense of unease that there really was a ‘subject random select’ button on the computer system operators screen.

    1. Mart with a Y not an I

      It’s visually better than the Money Pump as well.

      At least this is a proper looking eggtimer –
      must stand around 8 ft high, and with real plastic coins inside it and with the sound generated by them clattering through from the upper section to the lower, it’s a lot more realistic (although the warm-up man did say it’s only a visual representation of the amounts lost – there is a more accurate counter built into the progam running the show) than the Money Pump demo that I’ve seen.

      1. David

        Sounds interesting- did you get a feel as to about how long it would take for the money to get to zero?

        1. Mart with a Y not an I

          If you don’t want to know the result, then look away now!
          In my show there was a zero win. Before the final round, there was just over £10,000 left in the egg timer, and Davina announced that the coins (and therefore the money) would run out in 62 seconds.

          So, rough estimates say that is about 6-8 coins/pounds per seconds. But again, the egg timer is only a visual prop, because some coins had to be refilled because of technical breakdown, so it’s going to be an exact science.

          1. Mart with a Y not an I

            Should read after the last comma…
            So it’s NOT going to be an exact science

          2. David

            Since you said there is a counter built into the computer program, looks like it’s about 10K per minute, or 5 minutes altogether (which fits into the 5 minute concept as well)…

            And the emergency stop is the only help? That must have been a late change- the original press release said they also had a Freeze option where they could stop the clock for 10 seconds, as well as the last round having to name 10 items not 5…


          3. David

            and rereading it they also had 8 possible categories and not 7…

          4. Mart with a Y not an I

            Yes. Emergency stop was the only ‘lifeline’ available to the team playing.
            7 categories were displayed on the board at the start – which makes sense, 5 + final, and one extra played post emergency stop.

  2. Luke the lurker

    This actually sounds like it could be quite promising – let’s hope that’s the case.

  3. Paul B

    I am pretty reliably informed that the plan is for this to play at 5pm.

  4. Dave M

    What happens to the time allocated to the round where the emergency stop is used? Is it returned to the team bank for future rounds, or is it lost?

    Intrigued by this. It sounds a lot better than I was expecting. Looking forward to seeing how this comes off on screen.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The Emergency Game (as it’s referred to) is played with the same amount of time set for the previous game. It’s effectively a do over, although any money that had been lost stays lost.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    Right! I’ve seen this now – they were expecting to film two games this afternoon but the first one took two hours, so they cut it at one.

    * The person behind the podium is called the Time Keeper, and the person answering the questions is called the Game Player.

    * The hourglass really is a thing of beauty, it looks properly impressive and exciting when it turns over by itself. It’s not a “true” timer by the looks and sounds of things, it’s got a wide neck and it sounds like it collects 80=90 coins every half a second and spits them out into the bottom bulb. Martyn suggests it’s mainly a visual aid and the money clock is electronic and I think that makes sense (although they do try and hide this quite well, at the end of the round the bottom bulb opens and dumps all the coins down a hole, where they’re “weighed”).

    * Happily one of the games overran by about 100 seconds, and the money lost was about £17,500. So the maths says £175 a second. But £50k divided into 300 seconds is £167 a second – not neat, but apposite. The truth is likely somewhere between these two numbers.

    * The games are of a decently clever and interesting standard. But they veer wildly in terms of effort needed to give and answer a question. The geography round today was “here are some stamps you’d get from foreign airports, what country do they belong to?” whilst the history round was “answer these fairly simple history questions, but you have to spell the answer with the initial letters of X” where X could be fruits, Top 100 Boys Names and so on. It took 10-15 seconds for the Voice to read out some of those questions, which doesn’t seem fair in such a time critical game. One of my favourites was “name these TV shows, replacing each letter with the one that follows it in the alphabet. For example CZKKZR = DALLAS”.

    * It looks like the category names don’t give away the nature of the games outside its category, the political animals one was very different to the game Martyn describes in his report (here are pictures, names of everybody in it except the person we’ve covered up, and the date – who has been covered up?)

    * They are far too slow to animate the next questions in after a right answer or a pass.

    * As it is it’s a game that *looks* like it should be strategic, but the reality is the Time Keeper is indeed likely just to go for the safe option of going one minute a round every round. Really you want the TK to have a bit more agency – I can’t help but think if it was 6 Minutes to a Fortune it’d encourage the TK to play the game a bit more and vary the round lengths. As it is there doesn’t feel like there’s quite enough “give” in many of the games to try and form a proper strategy with, especially without seeing the reality of a game as it’s played rather than just by an example beforehand.

    * They had to stop games at two junctures, one because the contestant gave a correct answer and the person on the controls beeped it, and another because Voiceover Man read the wrong question out.

    * Sounds like the music is a Nick Foster special, and by that I mean he retweeted the link to this, so I assume it’s him. It’s good stuff as well, especially when the hourglass is emptying.

    * When I first heard about the show I thought it was an 8/10 idea, I think it’s a 7/10 now the reality of the execution is here, but I think it’s a show with 9/10 potential.

  6. Brig Bother Post author

    Also, actually, I was expecting one of the games to be a physical skill test for some reason, but this isn’t the case.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Also I don’t really see a reason why there is no option to save any of that five minutes for the final, again just as another point of strategy.

    2. David B

      Yes, the lack of physical games and the 1-hour time slot mean that the potential for this show to be “Wario Ware: the Game Show” is rather lost, which seems a pity. Nevertheless, the quiz questions sound like they’ve had some thought put into them so it’s going to be a welcome addition to the schedule.

      The only flaw I can see is if they somehow lose £49,000 on game 1 and then win all the subsequent games. Trying to keep the tension going for a £1000 win seems difficult, although I suppose you could argue that Pointless does that on a regular basis.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I suppose the Emergency Stop is the team’s guarantee that if it goes wrong early there’s a decent chance of a get out.

        You’re right, I thnk an hour of it at a time is a bit too much, but I look forward to seeing how this comes across on screen – they’ve stuck an edit point after every game, and straddling very much seems to be s Thing That Is Happening, so the can mix and match games as they see fit.

  7. Mart with a Y not an I

    Thanks for clearing up the time issue with the post emergency stop round, Brig. I honestly couldn’t remember what happened (although in my defence the rather attractive female production assistant looking after the pair of contestants in the 2nd afternoon recording walked into the studio, and my train of concentration hit the buffers)

    Now I’ve had 36 hours to think about it, there are only two changes I would make to tighten it up.
    1) Introduce a increasing level of difficulty in the rounds. This would discourage the opting for 1 min per round tactic by the timekeeper.
    2) Banking any time saved by completing the 5 main game rounds within the self imposed time limit, which will then be given back as ‘free time’ in the final round before the timer flips over and starts to drain the coins.

  8. Ss

    Hey, I’m seeing this at 2.45pm today. At what time do you think we will be let out? Thanks

    1. Kris wood

      I was wondering what that set was for when I shot that pic. We’d just stumbled into the gallery by accident during our walk around.

  9. Brig Bother Post author

    I just have one more thing to say about this because it nagged at me a little bit.

    Like I said, 8/10 idea, 9/10 potential, 7/10 execution.

    Based on one playing of the game I saw, I worry slightly that although the hourglass is a tremendous bit of kit, the actual draining of cash doesn’t feel as exciting as it possibly could, because if you’ve ever seen a five minute timer it takes a little while before you see it making an impact in the top bulb – sure it’s all happening with a vortex in the middle but at eye level the sand and indeed coins will pile up the side for a good while. To *feel* jeopardy you need to *see* the jeopardy. Now in the edit it might be fine (I’m sure there will be a lot of cutting rather than having in in full view) but I do wonder.

    I think, based on one playing sitting in the audience, I want to rename it Seven Minutes To Success, keep the amount of games the same, increase the prize to £60k but have it empty in three minutes. More strategy, more exciting looking and feeling jeopardy.

  10. Ian

    I was one of the contestants and there is no way anybody will win £50k
    We got to the final question with 28k and then had to wait 25 mins for the game to be played
    I only got 1 right out the possible 10 answers in the last game
    I’ve asked over 50 people the same question and nobody has gotten more than 3
    They clearly don’t want people to win big 🙁

  11. Ian

    Even the production team told s in the rehearsals nobody managed to win anything at all

  12. Mart with a Y not an I

    It does not surprise me. I’ve said that the way it’s structured no one will win the 50k. Another problem is the final round (as you found out). It changes from 5 different questions on a screen, to a list shout out.

    So if you are struggling during the main rounds, with the question on the screen, you can at least have a reasonable guess at the answer. With ten blank spaces, and just the question for company in the final round, it’s quite harsh..

  13. Ian

    Yeah it’s very harsh – I actually believed I would be able to answer it – but it’s never as easy as you think
    We were the 6th couple to play and until then only 1 couple had won and including us and the winners 1 other couple had got to the final (and lost)
    Great concept for a show but way too hard

  14. Stuart

    I saw two guys win over £40,000!
    And his end game was pretty stiff… but he did it!

  15. Paul

    Would be surprised if the demographics of the contestants don’t stray too far from The Million Pound Drop pool.


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