It’s been a while since I last did one of these. This sounds like the plan is for it to be leading into The X Factor, and it sounds like they’re recording more in November which I’d guess is for leading into The Voice next year.
No results will be spoiled, but as the tasks are disparately filmed so they can fit episodes together I’ll reveal the tasks today as a representative sample. As usual the caveat I can only comment on what’s in front of me, they may improve/make worse in the edit.
- This is based on Challenge Me! by Talpa. I think I prefer that title, in honesty.
- This was filmed in Studio 1 at The London Studios. The air con on this hot day was appreciated. I had heard they were struggling to fill seats and were resorting to a cash prize raffle to entice people in, it also sounds like some of the audience were from casting agencies. No matter, this afternoon was a full house.
- The theme tune is of course electroclash.
- The host is Stephen Mulhern. He was very good. It probably won’t change whether you like him or not though. There seemed to be lots of Ste-fans in the audience.
- If you can imagine the QI set but rotate it 30 degrees anti-clockwise without the desk, the giant Q forms a tunnel Stephen Mulhern and challengers walk down, the right of the set is dedicated to a large-ish rotating stage. Half of it has a wall which rotates round to hide the challenge, there is a video screen on it. There’s also a large video screen on the back of the stage. The main colours are chrome and red, although the lights turn blue on occasion.
- Show opens with some slapstick You’ve Been Framed-esque clips from the internet of things going physically wrong.
- People with unusual talents and skills are invited on to perform a challenge to demonstrate said talent. If they complete the challenge they win £1,000 (wooh). If they fail they have to take the “walk of shame” up the audience to an ironically chosen tune (for example: man fails at eating glass, they’ll play something like Heart of Glass by Blondie), a bit like when someone blacks out on Take Me Out.
- Each challenger is introduced with a VT package on their situation and hinting at their talent. They come out and have a chat with Stephen amongst much the same lines, teasing what their talent is before revealing it in a style not unlike when they chat to Matthew Kelly on Stars In Their Eyes.
- Each challenge has a sort-of gag title and then Stephen reveals what they’ve got to do. And then the stage revolves to reveal the set up.
- The set-ups are frankly not very exciting. Some speakers. A table. Occasionally just the screen on its own.
- First challenge tonight, a DJ is tasked with recognising any top 10 song from the 80s and 90s from the intro played backwards.
- Second challenge, a nervous young PC technician attempts to solve Rubik’s Cubes that have been legitimately mixed by members of the audience. He must do one blindfolded, one one handed, one with his feet and the last two as normal within three minutes. I don’t think I drew breath at all within that three minutes, I watched with stunned open mouth throughout it was that good and tense. Honestly.
- Third challenge, someone who has just finished his A-Levels attempts to do six speed-stack cycles within 60 seconds, each cycle consisting of three layouts. This was decently explained with slo-mo beforehand.
- Fourth challenge saw a competitive eater down eight pints of unpleasant liquids (gravy, milk, baked bean juice, baby food etc). He has four minutes to down the lot, if he throws up he gives up.
- The turnaround for each challenge was reasonable, but there were a lot of extra links and pick-ups filmed. And some promos at the end!
- And that should have been it, except we got a sort of bonus. On a recording yesterday there was a challenge where a Tube enthusiast had to give the shortest route between two given stations, ten or more correct in 90 seconds won. But evidently there was an issue because he had to come back today to find out if he won or not. I find it inconceivable that they didn’t have answers yesterday – did he come up with better ones? And it has been pointed out that “shortest route” is a somewhat ambiguous term with regards to the underground, they went for fewest changes in today’s reckoning. Besides which, to be rewarded after a three-and-a-half hour recording with ten minutes of Stephen Mulhern basically listing tube routes for ten minutes was a bit of a kick in the teeth, God knows how they’re going to make that look entertaining in the edit, I wanted to pull my eyes out. That’s no disrespect to the challenger who seems to be a better and faster option than tfl.gov.uk.
- So we have an intriguing prospect – the challenges don’t have You Bet‘s scale and they don’t have Epic Win‘s inventiveness in the main (how sad it is that a prime time show doesn’t have Epic Win‘s ambition or indeed prize budget and that was five years ago and considered a bit cheap then). The show is played with much more of a straight bat which may work better with an ITV audience.
- But of the challenges seen today only one ended up being properly gripping, the rest ranging from OK to frankly boring. They’ve recorded a lot of them so I don’t doubt there are others that are similarly gripping, deciding which ones go in which episode is going to be a bit of a headscratcher I suspect and getting the balance right is going to be absolutely vital.