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.