Show Discussion: 1000 Heartbeats

By | February 23, 2015

1000hbsWeekdays, 4pm,

After a false start it’s time for everybody to get the chance to watch ITV1’s newest afternoon quiz 1000 Heartbeats.

Contestants can win £25,000 if they can calmly make their way through seven rounds of questions testing knowledge and mental agility. They are wired up to a heartbeat monitor and they must go as far as they can – and play the final cashout game – before their 1000 heartbeats run out. Wrong answers cost 25 heartbeats, and if they don’t like a question they can switch it for an additional 50 penalty.

From what we’ve seen of it it’s a nicely made albeit highly derivative show – the structure of The Cube meets the games of Five Minutes to a Fortune meets The Chair, but all those shows had something going for them. As a show based around minigames, we will have to see if there are enough of them and minigame fatigue sets in. There is a rather large question mark over having the timer tick down whilst the questions are being read.

The show’s USP is that the music in the studio is provided by the actual real light entertainment music legend Paul Farrer (who devised the show) conducting the Heartbeats Strings quartet, four professional violinists who will vary the speed they play at depending on the contestant’s heartrate. This is designed to panic! This is also, I think, the first time Vernon’s done a daytime show since T4, although I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong.

65 thoughts on “Show Discussion: 1000 Heartbeats

  1. Greg

    I do not know why but i did not think i was going to like this before watching. However i really enjoyed it. The theme tune is very similar to that of Poker face, but having the orchestra in the studio and speeding up/slowing down with the heart rate speed is a great touch.

    The way the game is structured i will be shocked if we see any jackpot winners anytime soon. Having to gamble on the next round and having to use your remaining heartbeats on the cash out round will ensure very few if any win the top prize. I can see a lot of winners around the £2500 mark which i guess for daytime is quite acceptable.

    The games have some nice variety and the presentation and the hosting top notch.

    I think this could really do well, i will be tuning in.

  2. Mart With A Y Not An I

    So, when was the last UK gameshow that had any live orchestration as part of the show? I’m struggling to think of one.

    It’s actually a neat idea, and when you see that Paul Farrer came up with the format, and wrote the music/underscore of the show – the jigsaw pieces really do fall into place.

    I guess the thinking behind it, was that if you can see and hear the string quartet just off the right eye-line (in the same way the huge egg timer in 5WFADF was lurking menacingly almost in the same area of that studio set) it drums up a couple of extra heartbeats more than if it was recorded and played out in the studio.

    For a daytime show it’s good concept. Yes, hold it up to the light of closer scrutiny, and you can see the DNA of ‘The Chair’ and ‘Five Minutes To A Fortune’ pulsing around in there – but as it’s own show it holds it own well.

    Three minor issues I’m struggling with at the moment.
    1 – There should have been a ‘no Cash Out’ limit until the contestant has reached a certain £ level – or has gone under say 200 heartbeats left. It forces onward play, and stops the £1,000 bail outs.

    2 – I can see why it’s been done this way – but I don’t like the beat counter ticking down, whilst the options for a multiple choice question are first read out/displayed.

    3 – The set is all one colour during game play. Would have been nice for it to go from blue at 1,000 beats and slowly getting redder and redder the closer towards 0 we get.

    Fingers crossed it won’t be felled by the same problems that all short multi-round game/quiz shows have. The rounds need to have sufficient variety throughout the series.

    Hope this has been covered off.
    8/10 – if yes. 7.5/10 if no.

    1. Matt C

      Assuming you don’t count Strictly, there’s also the Jools Holland iteration of Name That Tune that springs to mind.

      1. Alex

        That channel 5 show that nobody remembers, The Beat Goes On had a live band, if that counts.

        1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

          Don’t Forget The Lyrics also had a live band that performed the songs as the contestants sang them

  3. Whoknows

    Wow I’m actually really enjoying this. The first non-appalling new ITV daytime show in a very long time.

  4. David

    One thing I was thinking about over the weekend- if you got rid of the heartbeat element and changed it to 1000 seconds, and kept most everything else (the strings could increase the tempo as the seconds go down)- would it still be as good? The rounds would have to be tweaked a little because the clock would be a lot slower even with the 25/50 penalties…

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    Love love LOVE the strings.

    It might be useful if there was some sort of X to find graphic in rounds where they’ve stepped off.

    Asking for 15 or 24 responses in Round Five is a really tough ask at that stage of the game, especially if they’ve got to wait for Question Lady to read out each instruction. If everyone is going to quit at £2500 then the show has got quite a large long term structural problem. Money Tree shows are notorious for this issue.

    I don’t mind that most of the games are in the same place, that used to be called a format. Question quality pretty good and engaging.

    Cashout was quite exciting. Will be Tivoing tomorrow at least.

  6. Liam Davis

    i have to admit, this is a very clever concept, though I have to agree on the questions, surely the clock should start after the question is asked then the heartbeat counter begins to drop then it would be fair.

    Overall it is a very impressive idea.

    1. shabz

      Yes I totally agree. Questions should be asked without knocking heartbeats also cashout should be a different round not using heartbeats. Overall a great quiz show. Vernon is a great presenter.

  7. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    REALLY enjoyed this show and will definitely be watching/recording every episode, and like Brig, I LOVED the string quartet and the music they played as the games were in progress, the BEST example being that round where Luke had to put together Pharrell Williams’ face. And I’ve taken to calling the Contrast round ‘Dis Or Dat’, because that’s basically what it is! 😀

    Just based off this first episode, I’ve tried to work out what the optimal time should be to cash out to stand the best chance of winning, and I think once your heartbeats dip under 300, that’s the best time to go for the Cashout round to try to win what you have so far, seeing as they still penalise you 25 heartbeats per wrong answer.

    All in all, I think we have a definite strong candidate for topping the Hall of Fame at the end of the year. I wish I’d have applied for this show as I wouldn’t mind having a go myself!

  8. jon

    I like the string quartet – lovely idea… the rest feels like a remake of 5 minutes to a fortune without the massive egg timer.

    Is this just me?

  9. Tim

    Fair play to Farrer on this one, it’s a cracking gimmick. I note there is a percussion part in some of the rounds which has to be linked to the contestant’s heart tempo, so I suspect he’s had to write a fair bit of software on top of everything else (iPad sheet music, wot ho!).

    You have to wonder if perhaps we might be engaging the quartet in a spot of Pointless banter should this show make it to further series. And/or occasionally sneaking in a bloke in a comedy wig playing the maracas.

    As far as the game is concerned though, it doesn’t suit a money tree. We’ve done money trees, and this one isn’t even interesting. Somewhat ironically, what might work better here is Paul’s usual employer (12 Yard)’s oft-invoked approach of each completed game earning you one extra %advantage going into the Cash Out round, played for a fixed sum.

    There is no point introducing the games with one-word titles – it merely invites comparison with that other show that introduces all its games with one-word titles.

    (I felt Alex Davis’ blood run cold when one of the games was introduced: “This is Pinpoint”.)

    Also, not enough heart symbols.

    Anyway, given the state of gameshows these days, you can’t imagine this one being topped this year. Top effort.

    1. Alex Davis

      Ha, PinPoint has already been bought by a format company and went no where, so I don’t care anymore. Besides, liked this show a *lot* and just happy to watch. The connection never clicked in my mind, to be honest.

  10. Brekkie

    So this is essentially Five Minutes to a Fortune with a different gimmick.

    Love the idea of the String Quartet, but by part 3 they were really getting on my nerves, and think this show is missing the atmosphere of a live audience. Some get away with it, some don’t, and not sure this does considering it’s solo contestants.

    It’s not a bad show but a bit on the dull side.

    1. Jon

      How different must a show must be to avoid legal action?
      Is there a set rule?

      1. David B

        Actually, there kind of is. Although it’s not in any law books, there is a sort-of industry standard – which I believe is used by FRAPA and similar people – that a format could be actionable if it is “8/10” or more similar to another format.

        So minor twists are not enough to make it dissimilar, but remember that a format is not just the rules but also the set, the host, the music, the lighting design, the content, the pacing etc. If you change enough elements, you should avoid any legal action.

          1. David B

            Certainly legal action is threatened, but cases only come to court after a long process of negotiation to see if some kind of compromise or licencing deal is agreed.

          2. David

            The creators of Survivor have sued at least twice – first Boot Camp in the US, and then I’m a Celebrity.

      2. Brekkie

        It’s different enough.

        Also why are pretty much all new shows (a huge incorrect generalisation I know!) now single contestants (or pairs/teams) against the show rather than people competing against each other. I kind of feel this might be more interesting having two people compete against each other.

  11. David B

    Some classic answers on “The Link” today – most notably that the geographical feature near Land’s End is “the Isles of Sicily”.

    And in the end game, the winners were royally stiffed. What’s the link between Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio. Wine, you say? Wrong. The answer is White Wine. That cost them over £4000.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Second best show of 2014, that.

      I actually saw the white wine bit live, but it’s such a regular occurance I just think ‘classic The Link!!!’ now.

    2. BigBen

      The worst example of this I saw was a pair who had words like Giant, Humungous, Colossal, Massive… on the board. They buzzed with an answer like “Words for large objects” and were ruled incorrect because clue 10 was “large”, so they should have said “synonyms for big”.

      I’m amazed a contestant hasn’t had one of these decisions officially reviewed and been given some cash as a result. I remember an interesting conversation here a while ago about games being both fair and just. For a while they’ve been playing close to the line of what is a reasonable answer to accept. In my opinion, here they crossed the line.

  12. John R

    I enjoyed it but £2,500 seems to be the point where 99% of contestants are cashing out (I wait to be proven wrong!).

    Nice to have a show that blasts through contestants too – quite unusual these days to be on the third contestant by the end of 45 minutes!

    Didn’t mind the violin stuff but do we really need a camera shot of them every 2 seconds?!

  13. Paul B

    BBC One

    Bargain Hunt 2.18m (36.1%)
    The Link 0.90m (13.0%)
    Pointless 3.64m (24.8%)

    BBC Two

    Two Tribes 1.31m (7.5%)
    Eggheads 1.28m (6.7%)
    University Challenge 3.04m (13.2%)
    Only Connect 2.57m (11.1%)


    Judge Rinder 1.17m (17.6%)
    Tipping Point 1.78m (25.0%)
    1,000 Heartbeats 1.39m (14.4%)
    The Chase 3.08m (21.8%)

    Channel 4

    Countdown 0.45m (6.9%)
    Deal or No Deal 0.47m (6.6%)
    Four in a Bed 0.71m (5.5%)
    Come Dine With Me 0.69m (7.1%)

    Channel 5

    10,000 BC 0.78m (5.0%)

  14. Davey

    I like the string quartet initially – but then it just got annoying after the first few games – too repetitive.

    Also listening to the question whilst the heart beats drain away feels wrong.

    The mini games are OK. Set and lighting look nice.

    6.5/10 – not in the same league as The Chase or Pointless, but better than Pressure Pad, Perfection and The Link for me.

  15. Brig Bother Post author

    Actually quite impressed that some people went for Pinpoint, but as suspected it’s a ridiculously lengthy game. Decipher is probably a doable game six as well only requiring two answers, but there is so much to read out whilst your clock is ticking it rarely seems worth it.

    I’m already getting a bit fed up of the repeated explanations. We get it, we saw it twenty minutes ago.

  16. Chris M. Dickson

    I do like the old-school nature of the shove that Vernon applies as he dispatches contestants off the show; I’m sure every host of a rolling-contestants show does it, but few shows are quite so blatant in showing it. He’s a big lad, so you’d know when Vernon applied a bit of welly your way in the general direction of off-stage.

    This show definitely feels almost “almost great”, and that will have to do.

    1. David Howell

      He plays safety for the (national champion!) London Warriors – he’s got practice pushing people around. 🙂

  17. Davey

    The bits that niggle me about this show are now stopping me enjoying the bits I quite like.

  18. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    Rather narked off, last night I did a write-up of each of the games that have been shown so far and after checking just now to add any new ones from today’s episode, someone’s deleted them! In the edit log, there’s an explanation saying ‘Format is enough of a synopsis’

    1. Weaver

      The UKGS pixies hate to see good work go to waste, especially when it’ll save them some effort. They wonder if you’d like to license your write-up for us, er, them to publish.

  19. Brig Bother Post author

    Ep 3 felt irritated me less than ep 2, so good. But Maths Round really is a proper killer.

    Nice to see Link the Letters from Connections make an appearance.

  20. AlexSTO

    First game, Contrast – 7 correct answers
    Second game, Reorder – 6 correct answers
    Third game, Assemble – 5 correct fragments
    Fourth game, Identify – 4 correct answers
    Fifth game, Keep Up – 3 sequences
    Sixth game, Decipher – 2 correct answers

    One correct answer to win the seventh game?

  21. John R

    One thing I will say is the editing needs tightening a bit…Just watching Episode 2 you can spot where they cut out a Vernon link to a commercial break and perhaps more obvious at the end ‘Let’s have a look at your next game…Oh actually that’s the buzzer we’re out of time’

  22. Paul B

    1,253,000 viewers (including +1) on Tuesday. 13.0% share.
    1,255,000 viewers (including +1) on Wednesday. 13.2% share.

    My impression is that ITV like the show, are properly invested in it, and as such those ratings are enough to get it a second series if they hold up. Especially when Mel & Sue were averaging about 0.85m in the same slot.

    I do think that, while it’s a perfectly good format, the “high concept” bit (with the heartbeats, string quartet and all) almost gets lost in the mix, and you end up just watching the games and the “clock” on screen. I suspect that means its ceiling is somewhat below Tipping Point’s, where the central conceit is basically *all* you ever notice.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Interesting, although I’ve read many comments suggesting that the strings are irritating and offputting – wrong of course, but I’m not sure it’s getting lost as much as you think.

      I’m interested to see how it does over the next six weeks, I think it might have medium term issues that will hurt its audience, but I’m pleased it’s doing OK. It deserves OK.

      1. David Howell

        Of course, “irritating and offputting” is kind of the intention of the strings… on the contestant. The audience, possibly not so much. 😉

  23. David B

    Having seen the first week, I’m rather liking this and it’s a confident start. Yes, it’s somewhat true that the effect of the heartbeat gimmick is a bit of a slow burn that doesn’t have an immediate cause-and-effect, and in that regard The Chair was better, but then again this is a quiz show and not a fitness contest.

    I completely love the music and the variations for the different levels (keeping the good stuff for your own show, eh, Mr Farrer?), and the idea of the live musicians is quietly revolutionary. It might seem ‘obvious’ but when you see all the tweets saying “There’s a live string quartet playing on ITV” you realise it’s actually slightly surreal.

    Vernon works well on this kind of format, and there’s some nice little bits of humour – particularly the ‘flatline’ noise when you hit 0. Maybe they could have made a bit more of the quartet being the enemy of the contestant… I don’t know. Getting Vernon to banter a bit with Mr F might’ve been fun.

    So… it pains me a bit that parts of the format hit the crossbar hard. My main gripe is that the rounds are the WRONG WAY AROUND. In order to tempt the contestants to go that ‘little bit further’ to get to the next level, the games need to get shorter and shorter. However, level 1 is 7 quick answers whereas something like Pinpoint is 15 sums. At the very least, the first four games could be roughly the same length and then there’s a severe tapering off thereafter. The contestants are not even slightly agonising about whether to go for the next game or not, and that’s annoying for a money ladder-based format.

    As others have mentioned, the decision to start the heartbeat clock while the question is being set up is quite unfair. It penalises the player twice if they step off – a 50 beat penalty and the time taken to set up the new question. Also, it’s quite unclear whether the contestants are allowed to interrupt.

    I’m not completely sold on the Step Off mechanic – in quite a few cases, it seems to make more sense to NOT answer the question rather than persevere. Maybe 50 beats for the first step off, 100 for the second, 150 for the third…? As Nick says, they could do with a “3 answers left”-type graphic for the question after a Step Off.

    For a run as long as this, I would have hoped for a few more games than they’ve got. 2 variations per level is fine for a two-week pilot series, but a full proper series really could have done with more. And the font is not the clearest – thin letters like small L and capital i get lost, even on a big telly. The letter sizes could do with bumping up generally. And yes, it would’ve been nice if there was a ‘short’ version of the rules if it’s the second time you’ve seen a game in that episode.

    Finally, I’m not very keen on the end game. Because you have to go through 5 questions minimum, it’s very ‘on the rails’. You can only go as fast as the computer will allow you. To this end, you’ve got to leave a certain amount of beats in your bank left for the final game – approximately 150 for each ‘attempt’ at a 5th question. I would have preferred something like the “pick 4 from 8” combination game where it’s possible to get it very very quickly or it could take a full 1000 beats. By having a game that has the possibility of being completed quickly (if you’re good), you would have tempted more players to a higher level of cash. As it is, even good players quit with 250 beats left. I will admit that the game they’ve got has given them some good finishes, but I still think it could be even better.

    Not sure what appetite there is for change given that what they’ve got so far works quite well, but let’s hope they get a second series to make it even better.

    1. xr

      Very much in agreement on the fonts. Size, style, stroke width all work hard to make text illegible for non-snipers. The graphical work in all is uninspired and very dated. I strongly feel the bpm display would be so much better replaced with an actual pulsing spot, which would also mask the quantising effect of the smoothing function applied to the raw heart rate input. The round names are entirely indistinct. And why is Siri hosting most of the show?

      Music is excellent, but not nearly varied enough imho. Cashout specifically needs more distinction.

      Add my voice to those unhappy with the timer running during the uninterruptible, ponderous readouts, and also the double penalising of wrong answers. Step-off seems to have been intended for reality drama, but is of course used strategically; I agree that it’s against the spirit of the game, but it does fix the more broken rounds so I don’t mind much.

      To be fair to the format deviser, the decreasing number of answers AlexSTO pointed out suggests some production staff agree with your temptation argument. This does run up against not having a dramatic seventh round all of three seconds long. I suspect the way out of that bind is high variability rounds replacing their interminable later rounds. For example, interruptible 30 second-long questions or Only Connect-style puzzles could work much better than 50 elementary arithmetic problems.

      Another, less of a topic crap shoot way to handle cashout could be to simply require 10-CompletedRounds answers. I do admit this works a lot to the players’ disadvantage, as safe exits are no longer likely until past the halfway point.

      Of the rounds, Assemble is my favourite by far. Most seem to miss the pulse-elevating twist of the less silly 5M2aF rounds though. Question writing is good, although some very similar questions crop up in successive episodes.

    2. Daniel H

      The “beats while the question is read out” issue was particularly evident today as a contestant stepped off during one game, lost her 50, stepped back on and then chose to immediately step back off again after her second question was read out. Her score was 33 lower than when she stepped on the second time and she hadn’t even contemplated having a go!

      My biggest problem with the font is that the capital D and capital O in Unravel are practically indistinguishable.

      Having said those negatives however, I do think this is a nice little show which has the potential to become even better with a few tweaks and new games

  24. John R

    The poor contestant today! Bet they won’t be having milk in their cuppa for a while!

    Nice little touches cutting to Vernon trying not to wet his pants laughing and the producers obviously feeling so sorry for her they let her have a few guesses without knocking off the wrong answer penalty!

  25. Ian clarke

    Like the idea of the show and would love to watch it, but the graphics are terrible. I cannot read the screen with the answer choices. The font size is way too small and the colour choices make it difficult to read. I gave up halfway through. I met my pals in the pub later and they all said the same.
    Same, because the idea is good.
    Increase the font sizes please.

  26. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    We finally got to see a Round 7 game and it looks a stonking hard one! It’s called Recall and involves the player memorising an 11-digit sequence consisting of letters and numbers, something like QR76J4RT3L5. I may have a good memory, but even that game looks challenging to me, and I suppose it would HAVE to be hard with it being for £25k!

    1. David

      If it was only letters or numbers, it’d be doable (it’s like the Panic Codes on The Exit List)- the fact that it’s both and the penalty for a miss plus you still have to do a cashout make it seem less likely someone will actually go for it…

  27. Little Timmy

    Having just seen the bloke on Friday’s episode suffer the humiliation of having to attempt Cashout with 8 heartbeats remaining, I’m of the opinion that they don’t just need to start the clock pre-question, but wait until they have given a WRONG answer.

    Potential for this is two-fold:
    – It is impossible to get into a situation where playing on is utter folly (and/or cashing out becomes a joke): if you can beat the game, it shouldn’t be a deterrent. And it doesn’t detract from the central conceit that much.
    – You can drum up the panic when they make a mistake = faster hearts. To boot, Paul can write a soft ‘before’ and harder ‘after’ variation score for each game, with key changes (which it sorely needs!).

    Then recalibrate the difficulty of the games to compensate for the easier ride.
    – Paul has the opportunity to write a

    1. David B

      Nice idea! One is the minor flaws with the format is that when people fail, it tends to be a slow realisation of their situation rather than a dramatic death.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            Oh yeah,myou might have to log in, so here we go:

            “”Quote from: Kniwt on March 09, 2015, 10:56:42 AM
            Why not just eliminate Cash Out entirely? It’s sort of like saying, “OK, Mo Farah, you just completed the most amazing Game 7 of The Cube, but now you have to play one more game to claim that £250,000.” Game 7 of 1000 Heartbeats appears to be similarly intimidating (although, if it’s always memorization, that’s something that can be practiced).”

            I suspect you’re going to see the cash out mechanism used a lot more in the future, mainly because it makes for a slightly more exciting game and ending even when the players decide to play more conservatively.

            You could solve the issue by not starting the clock until they make their first mistake, although it’s a bit of a bodge, and really not enough games end up like that to be worth changing anyway, lack of elegance or no lack of elegance.”

  28. Paul B

    It’s been between 1.15 and 1.35 every day for the last fortnight I think. I also think it will come back.

    1. David B

      While the ratings look a little low, I think it ought to come back. Some things to tweak for sure, but it’s been a confident start.

      I do wonder what the audience want at this time. I think sometimes they can be really harsh to new ideas – it’s almost if people are saying “if it’s not Tipping Point or The Chase, I’m not watching”. But you’ve got to give new ideas a chance. Maybe they should have done what TP got at the start, a run at 5pm first.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I think you can normally tell what sort of level a show is going to be at three weeks. It’s not a disaster, but at that sort of number I’d want to try something else first.

        Interestingly Tipping Point gets about a quarter of its audience from plus one, eating into 1kHBs audience. If that’s not an argument for the stupidity of hammocking in the modern era I don’t know what is.

        I would suspect 1KHB probably skews a bit younger than Tipping Point, but that’d just be a guess without stats in front of me. I would also suggest it’s more of a gamer’s gameshow and something a bit lighter in that slot would probably do better (De Slimste).

  29. Daniel H

    Last in the series of this yesterday after 25 episodes – I thought it was originally down for 30?

      1. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

        I’m saying this now, if there’s a contestant call for a second series, I am definitely putting my name down for it as I’d really like a go at the game and I think I could do well

        1. Paul B

          They shot what they thought was enough for 30 eps, and then decided in conjunction with ITV to cut it down into 25 to keep the pace up.

          The series ended with 1.0m yesterday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.