Watching Telly: You’re Back In The Room

By | January 20, 2015

ybitrlogoNew hypnotism game show hosted by Phillip Schofield and Irish hypnotist Keith Barry. Interestingly it looks like Barry Jones from comic magicians Barry and Stuart was on hand as an off-camera consultant (I didn’t realise this until the warm-up Stuart Holdham pointed it out). It was filmed at ITV Studios (Studio One, studio fans). It is a Tuesday’s Child production.

  • The set is a large stage surrounded by LEDs. These are normally coloured purple. The large LED screen which forms the back of the stage will have the logo displayed and a back drop of swirling clocks – basically what you see above in fact.
  • Our five contestants sit on black chairs to the left of the stage.  There is kind of a separate area sectioned off to the right of the stage, but all the games will mainly play on the main bit of the stage.
  • Keith comes on and introduces himself and explains suggestion and hypnotism to the audience, that there was an audition tour and the contestants on tonight proved the most suggestible. He does a couple of simple things with the audience – hands getting heavy, hands getting stuck together, that sort of thing. Some of the audience come across as very suggestible and are  told they should apply if it comes up again.
  • Phillip says he believes it and wouldn’t be involved with the show if he thought it was fake. Also that he’s not going to let Keith try it on him,he doesn’t think he’s very suggestible. I thought the contestants were very convincing (although one thing nagged at me at the end of the show which I’ll go into), the big question (and really the success of the show is going to depend on it) is how cynical the audience are and if they’ll buy into it, and these days they are very cynical.
  • Under law they can’t show you Keith putting the contestants under in case he puts the whole audience under, so you see a brief clip of him doing it off-stage. Or you see the contestants zonked out on some sofas at any rate. We are told we should applaud and encourage the contestants by the warm-up but not do anything to break their trance although I’m not quite sure what if anything could be done. There were also substantial breaks between rounds so he could top them up, apparently.
  • That’s the set-up, here’s the format: the contestants will play four games to build up a cash pot of up to £25,000 which they will play for in the fifth and final game. The show is set-up to be non-threatening and light-hearted, as such the money is suggested to be a “thank you for participating” rather than anything seriously lifechanging. The  contestants don’t know each other, they’ll split the money equally.
  • Right, I think the set-ups are unique to each episode but there are still episodes left to film. To avoid any future participants getting too many ideas as to what might happen to them I’ll detail the games used but I’ll only detail the hindrances for the first one and keep the rest a surprise for broadcast, as I’m sure you’ll pick up the idea. I am aware this might feel like a bit of a cop-out, reader, perhaps I will come back to this once all the shows are in the can.
  • In the first game, the contestants have to make sculptures out of clay based on a word given to them in envelopes. At the end of the time all the other contestants will try and guess what it was they were trying to sculpt, and correct answers win £1,000 for the pot. However, AND SLEEP (the studio goes all dark blue at this point), one contestant will believe that the clay is a sort of cream that makes you look younger, one will believe the clay smells of dog poo, one will believe they are a famous French sculptor who is disgusted by the poor tools that are given and will frequently stop and listen to a song on the radio. The fourth contestant believes that all the sculptures everyone else is making are obscene. The final contestant will, whenever he hears the theme from the film Ghost (which comes on when the French one turns the radio on), he will immediately rush over to the other guy and pretend to be Patrick Swayze in that famous pottery scene. When they’re told they’re “back in the room”, the LED backdrop changes to a picture to set scene and indeed be a room.
  • So a lot of the elements interplay with each other, and it works and is funny, helped along immeasurably by Schofield playing along with and frequently up to the contestants. Keith is off-stage throughout so it’s up to Philip to (attempt to) keep control until the klaxon goes to end the game.
  • In game two the contestants must blow up balloons for a children’s party. Two of them blow them up, two tie them to sticks and one of them must take them and put them in a stand. And when a balloon bursts they must hide behind a table. Something very funny happened here before the game starts which they probably are not going to be able to show in a primetime broadcast, but if they don’t I’ll tell you what it was when it comes round. Each balloon is worth £250.
  • Game three is The Music Quiz (it was suggested that this has come up before). Ten music questions worth £500 each, each one subtly related to the effect they’ve been put under. In addition, one of them plays a bonus round, an additional set of ten questions only they will answer (but with everyone else still doing crazy things in the background) again worth £500 for the pot each.
  • Game four involved serving dinner and drink to popular TV chefs – each one should have meat, mashed potato, gravy, carrots and a glass of champagne, each one for each chef worth £250. Amusingly the contestants got into their roles before Schofield had a chance to introduce the game and the celebrities and a yellow raincoat but ever the professional took it in his stride and just ad libbed around the chaos. One contestant loses a shoe and it takes production several minutes to find it.
  • The final. The room is set up with laser boundaries, one of which turns off briefly (acting as a door). On the left side of the room is a massive trough holding 500, maybe more golden balls. On the left side of the room is an empty trough, and all the contestants have to do is get as many balls into the empty trough as possible. Each ball is worth 1/250th of the prize fund (but rounded up to the next fiver, so if they built up £22k, say, they’d play for £90 a ball rather than £88). Contestants have two minutes thirty to do this, a new member entering the room every twenty seconds and then all of them for the remaining time. But of course all of them have been given something to make it more difficult (one is a pirate who has forgot his wooden leg, another believes the floor is made of ice and so on).
  • At some point during proceedings Keith may give them new suggestions to replace the ones they were given.
  • Whatever value of balls in the trough at the end is what they’ll collectively take home, and if it’s not all of what they’ve built up it’s likely to be most of it.
  • And that’s it, a bit of a mammoth record at five hours but it should edit really well.
  • I thought the contestants were convincing, they certainly stayed in their roles well after the games until Keith “reset” them. EXCEPT. Except. At the end of the final game where they seemed to drop the suggestion pretty damn quickly after the klaxon went, and Keith didn’t remove it until several minutes later. It’s very possible I missed something, and I’m probably more sceptical than most, but I did notice and it did jar. Maybe when the lasers dropped the “room” stops existing and so does the suggestion. I don’t know.
  • And that is going to be question that hangs over the show. It certainly is funny and it certainly should edit well, and it’s fun, but these days a lot of people are going to think “is it staged, and if it is why am I bothering?” and a decently large segment of the audience are going to proclaim it is anyway.  I don’t think there’s going to be a middle ground here, it’ll be a massive Paul McKenna-style hit or a massive flop. I think I’m pulling for the former.

7 thoughts on “Watching Telly: You’re Back In The Room

  1. mark powlett (clinical hypnotherapist)

    This was really interesting to read! I’m at tonight’s recording and as a clinical hypnotherapist stage hypnosis is something I talk to medical students about when I lecture them about hypnotherapy for health reasons. I’ve written about the show a little already if you are curious .. let’s just say that they won’t be picking people who are shrinking violets…so does that mean they are hypnotised or want to be on tv?! Thanks for your great blog. 🙂

  2. John R

    Bah. I wanted to go and see this but couldn’t get the time off work!

    It sounds totally different to what I was expecting though!

  3. Scott John Harrison

    During the first few weeks of University I went up as a “subject” for a Stage hypnotism – so I can tell you what they were doing they were doing because of the suggestibility.

    It is a bit like improvised comedy/roleplaying but at the start you are putting your actions in the hands of another without knowing what they are going to be – you are basically allowing yourself to not take responsibility for what you are going to do and putting the choices of what to do into someone hands.

    I can see by your description the desire to win in the last game can easily overrule the suggestibility needed to go along with the act previously.

    I experienced something similar when the show was “done” and we had one last suggestion in place…I had a big desire to get that over and done with.

  4. Archie Hancock

    So, I went to see the final episode of this be filmed last night (21/01).

    As Brig has already said, this show is far more about the entertainment than getting to know the contestants and what they would do with the prize money. I think they did that well, in fact, the only times Phillip asked what the players would do with any winnings was at the start when he introduced them, and he only asked that question to two of the contestants.

    The record took just over 4 hours, which, isn’t as bad as I had actually thought.

    The show I saw, like Brig had a round involving food, in my case, pizza making. Also a round that featured a group of celebrities. Diversity were the guests (I also see via twitter that some of the cast of Coronation Street were on another episode). There was also a quiz round.

    All rounds had laugh out loud moments, which is what the show is all about. Phillip was excellent. I’ve seen many shows recorded, but never one with Phil. He managed to use his many years of TV experience to make what should have been an utter mess and chaos look professional, taking whatever was thrown at him (Or the audience, in fact!) in his stride.

    Of course, I was quite sceptical about the whole set up, but as Brig said, both Keith Barry and the Schofe said they wouldn’t put their name to the show if they thought it was one big set up. Oh, and one of the contestants for the show I saw, was also a contestant on Deal or No Deal last year. I also saw that game live.

    I’m not a fan of the end game at all really. Even though it’s an entertainment show, I can’t help but feel there was ZERO tension whatsoever, and seeing as though there could be up to £25,000 to be won, felt a bit.. wrong. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Chase’s end game and loosing the fact it’s all about the laughs? I have no idea why the final round was played within a laser boundary, not once was this explained to the audience, or the contestants on camera.

    It was a very funny record and yes, it will come out excellent in the edit. Although I’m also left here wondering how well it will really do seeing as though a lot of the British public are “non believers”. Maybe that is why they’ve only filmed four episodes in the series?

    Any other questions, feel free to ask!


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