The lovely John R went to MediaCity yesterday and has this to report:
To kick off it is the first time I’ve been to MediaCity, nice place. Appreciated how there was alcohol in the waiting area available for purchase (not free sadly!). But getting in to the studio was a bit unorganised, eventually slowly ushered in via sticker numbers.
Audience was mainly comprised of the older generation, so their plan to integrate an EXCITING SMART PHONE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ELEMENT fell a bit flat (more on that later)
Alan Carr…I mean Jonathan was the warm up, new to me although I’m sure based on that description some of you will know him. He was probably the best part of attending this recording.
Steve Jones is the host, remember this was just a not for broadcast pilot so it was probably a case of who was available near Manchester on the day. Not the worst host for this I guess but nothing special. Then again, I think the last time I saw him was the hugely successful 101WTLAG…
Anyway off we go and Steve introduces the 8(!) contestants who do a quick intro (When I say quick, one poor guy had to do a retake at least 10 times as he couldn’t get his words out properly!), the intros maybe according to Steve contain ‘a few bluffs’ but this idea never really goes much further to be honest.
One is ‘randomly picked’ to join Steve at the podium with a large red buzzer in the middle and they have tablet keypad devices set up. These went into standby mode a lot which ended up causing a lot of retakes.
First round is 3 questions with a multiple choice of 3 answers for each, an easy question a medium question and a hard question seemed to be what they were going for. If the contestant gets any one of these 3 questions wrong they’re out of the game for good BUT WAIT! If they don’t know the answer they also have a cheat button on their tablet which will automatically select the correct answer!
After each question Steve will open the field up to the other waiting contestants and they can start questioning the active contestant to try and work out if they actually know the answer or are bluffing and have cheated their way through the question. For example if the contestant is asked ‘Which pub soap features The Queen Vic’ and the answers are Emmerdale/Coronation Street/Eastenders they might decide to ask the contestant about the characters from the various soaps.
During this rather awkward conversation period of any of the waiting contestants feel the active contestant has been a bit naughty and cheated then they can awkwardly walk towards the big red button and hit it to accuse them of cheating. If the accusation turns out to be correct then the active contestant gets booted off for good and the accuser gets straight through to round 2.
Should the accusation turn out to be incorrect however then the active contestant carries on as normal and Steve sends the accuser back to the waiting area with a yellow card. You read that right. A YELLOW CARD. (Not as in an actual card of the yellow colour, a football style ‘one more false accusation and you’re off the show’). This was stupid, in my eyes they make one wrong accusation and they should be eliminated there and then.
Anyway rinse and repeat until 4 contestants are through. Very boring.
I’m sure Steve at one point mentioned any of the waiting contestants that didn’t get through would maybe get to appear in the next show but this was never mentioned again…however…
…by the end of the recording they seemed to have decided Round 1 was a massive complex waste of time so did some pick ups so basically the entire show starts at Round 2.
Round 2 and down to 4 contestants. Steve invites 2 of them to go head to head. The head to head involves both contestants getting 3 lifes and 3 cheats. Steve alternates between the contestants, asking them questions the same as in Round 1 multiple choice questions with 3 answers. After each answer is given the opponent has a bit of a debate before deciding if they want to hit the button. If they hit the button and the other contestant has turned out to cheat then the cheater loses a life however should a false accusation be made then the accuser loses a life. If the contestant cheats and the opponent doesn’t catch them out then nothing really happens. Again, why isn’t the opponent punished for managing to miss a cheat?!
Once the contestants have used all their cheats they are on their own, I think a wrong answer at this point meant just a life lost but it may have meant instant elimination, I can’t fully remember.
Again rinse and repeat until one of the contestants loses all their lifes. This dragged lots and was a bit boring.
At this point we were a good 3.5 – 4 hours into recording and half the audience decided to leave and it was time for a quick 10 minute break.
When we got back? They had the do the exact same again with the other 2 contestants! At this point I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t bail with the others before!
Anyway this round is where they tried the EXCITING SMART PHONE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ELEMENT! Basically the audience members with smartphones had a website (cheatquiz.com if interested) to visit and the opponent could ask the audience just once during the round if they thought the other contestant was cheating or not. Didn’t really work, eventually they settled on just getting the audience to form an opinion via crowd noise which got on with the job. Cheers for the free WiFi to stop me getting too bored throughout the recording though!
Anyway after all this is done and dusted we have 2 contestants to face each other in Round 3. Which is just head to head again!!! (SERIOUSLY?!) the only twist this time is before the question is asked the opponent gets to pick from 2 categories so they want to pick the worse category for the challenger based on what they have learnt about them throughout the show. This drags as much as Round 2 and in the end it was getting quite late in the evening and the remaining audience were getting a bit bored so they rigged it a bit just so we could get on to the final round.
The final round and money is up for grabs! Up to £10,000! The contestant is posed 7 questions, again multiple choice 3 answers and has 5 seconds to answer each one (although initially Steve decided to give them all the time in the world resulting in yet more retakes!). After all 7 have been answered, the answers are reviewed by Steve and the contestant. Here is the catch – they must get all 7 right to be in with a chance of winning any money! However they can CHEAT up to 3 of their answers if unsure, which will halve the prize fund each time so 1 CHEAT = £5000 2 CHEATS = £2500 3 CHEATS = £1250. If the contestant wins then Steve will go through the answers they CHEATed on to see what money they could potentially have missed out on.
And that is it! I understand this was a pilot but to arrive at 2:30pm and only be back at the MediaCity tram station for 8:30pm for such a simple show seemed a bit stupid really. And the overall impression I felt was ‘boring’ so I would be amazed if it got a commission, particulary in the teatime slot it seems to be aiming at (although a Pressure Pad type slot may be another option).
I don’t think there’s much wrong with the central conceit per se, but the biggest difficulty with this sort of thing is pitching the questions – too easy and we have people discussing whether they know one and one is two for a fact (dull), too difficult then there’s only one strategy and it’ll get dull (dull).