Show Discussion: Alphabetical

By | August 15, 2016


Weekdays, 5pm,

And so the next Summer quiz contender approaches and this time it’s Jeff Stelling with a UK version of a European reversioning of a light UK daytime panel game. That panel game was The Alphabet Gamethe most famous European version is the still running Pasapalabra from Spain (Although it’s travelled to most of the major markets although not still running in many of them).

Three players play games and quizzes based around letters of the alphabet to build up time, the player with the most time gets to take on the current champion in the endgame for a progressive jackpot, if nobody wins the jackpot the person who does better at the game comes back to try again as champion the next day.

The endgame for the popular Spanish show is legendarily difficult (basically you have to get a question right for every letter of the alphabet without making a mistake), often building up for over a year and getting into seven figures so it will be interesting to see if they’ve adapted it at all for the UK market – it only has ten episodes to impress after all and there may be a point where nobody winning anything turns people off. But fans of quiz should be pleased, around 200 questions an episode are promised and Stelling is a safe pair of hands with this sort of thing.

79 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Alphabetical

  1. Nico W.

    I liked the way the French did it (in fact, it’s still one of my favourite French afternoon quizzes). They had the contestant and champion answer 90 seconds(?) of questions where the answers started with a/b/c/… and the one who answered the last question correctly got to answer the next one until they were wrong and it was the other one’s turn. If they had time left at the end of the alphabet they started again from a, winnet was the one with more points and each point difference added 100€ to the winner’s bank.
    Obviously it lacks the great build up a jackpot like the Spanish one has, but it means that people can actually win money.

  2. Clive of Legend

    Basically okay. Nothing much to praise and little to criticize, except that they have what look like lights for each letter in a circle of the floor of the studio but just use an onscreen donut for the final instead. Wasted opportunity if there ever was one, I thought.

  3. David

    Either the questions in the final round are way too long, or Jeff reads them way too slow- I’m going with the former (it probably should be more like a brief definition, not a full question)- I suspect no one will get all 26 in the 2 weeks they have. Otherwise it’s not too bad..

  4. John R

    Haven’t watched it all yet but from what I did see it was a bit…well dull. Fine for a lunchtime / early afternoon type slot somewhere but not the 5pm slot.

    Also, having to say ‘Alphabetical’ rather than ‘Pass’ got annoying very, very quickly as did the vanishing scores, why can’t you just show them all the time?!

    I know the production values budget isn’t going to be too high due to only being on 10 episodes but I reckon the ‘Du dah de da da’ jingle was played at least 200 times during the episode too, never mind 200 questions!

  5. Peter Todd

    Great rounds to play along with. Easy to understand from the start. A fair jackpot of £5,000 and £100 for every correct answer given in the final round. If I had to pick between Cash Trapped or Alphabetical to return for another series I will say Alphabetical and the great Jeff Stelling.

  6. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    So, first episode broadcast, so as usual, it’s the format rundown.

    For this first episode, a player named Kyle was designated as the ‘reigning champion’ for this episode by virtue of them playing a game beforehand and stands on a podium all on his own. To the left of his podium are 3 more for 3 challengers and Jeff is stood to the right. Each player is spotted 100 seconds for the final round.

    Round 1 was First Letter. Starting with Kyle, each player was given a letter that every answer starts with. They are then each given 60 seconds of rapid-fire questions, earning 1 second per correct answer.

    Round 2 was Ending Letter. Much like Round 1, only this time the given letter is what each answer ENDS with. Again, 1 second earned per correct answer.

    Round 3 was Starting Letters. A category was shown on the screen (in this case, Tourist Spots), and each player was given a 3-letter acronym to solve and can have up to 3 clues to try and solve it. If solved on the first clue, they earn 5 seconds. If solved after 2 clues, they earn 3 seconds. If solved after all 3 clues, they earn 1 second. This was then repeated with a Celebrity Couples category where there were 2 pairs of initials for both names of the couple. After everyone had played, the challenger with the lowest amount of time was eliminated (Kyle couldn’t be eliminated as he was the reigning champion).

    Round 4 was Thirteen Letters. 13 random letters appeared on the screen (today’s were: ABCDEFGJLOPSU). Jeff then asked questions that started with each letter in turn. Kyle and the 2 remaining challengers answered these questions on the buzzer, earning 2 seconds per correct answer, but were frozen out of the next question for a wrong answer. After all 13 letters were played, again, the lowest-scoring challenger was eliminated, leaving one challenger to face Kyle in the Final.

    For the Final, each player was given an alphabet. Starting with Kyle and starting from A in the alphabet, Jeff asked a question with the answer beginning with that letter. A correct answer moves you onto the next letter or you can say ‘Alphabetical’ to pass and hand control to your opponent, who then starts from A in their alphabet. However, a wrong answer means you can no longer play for the £5,000 jackpot. Whoever gets the highest score goes onto the next episode and earns £250 for doing so, and they add £100 for each correct answer you got into the jackpot.

    1. Lukachkinas

      That was a lot more rubbish than I was hoping for.
      First and second round quick-fires are too similar and got boring too early. Jeff is an okay host, but he reads questions WAY too slow. Also, they don’t really mean anything. They earn 4 seconds in 60 seconds. Half the headstart and double the values probably is a solution.
      The endgame is possible with Bradley or Davina, but not with Jeff. At the end of the series they will throw £25k in the trashcan.
      And that ‘Alphabetical’ instead of ‘Pass’ thing is annoying, confusing and, most importantly, absolutely unnecessary.

      Bring back Cash Trapped.

  7. Christopher McB

    Saying “Alphabetical” instead of pass was just silly, and the noise made when a contestant got a question wrong sounded far too similar to the sound made when they get a question right, which got confusing quite quickly. Still, the question ratio was impressive, and it seemed a little easier to follow compared to Cash Trapped.

  8. Brig Bother Post author

    I’m in a very unusual position here in that I’ve got no idea what sort of number to expect for this tomorrow – a new quiz that doesn’t have the benefit of people thinking it’s going to be The Chase, against the Olympics.

    It’s also quite the most prosaic quiz in quite some time, probably since the nineties show it’s based on. But it’s got lots of questions, and it is just people standing behind a desk answering questions so there’s no chance anybody’s going to find it too complicated. It’s *too* prosaic for my tastes, although I’d probably watch it if there was nothing else on.

    I don’t understand why you have that large ring of letters on the floor and you don’t have lights dancing around it to determine what letter is in play for the round. The set’s quite dour, it could do with a bit more fun.

    Also people saying ‘alphabetical!’ when they mean ‘pass’ got old the first time it happened. I suspect the British public’s tolerance for crap versions of something that works perfectly well is going to be low. Imagine if Jim Davidson really wouldn’t have moved on to another question on Big Break unless the contestant said ‘snookered’. I sort of understand it, it’s what they do in Spain, but at least that basically means pass anyway.

    I think sticking a bit too close to the Spanish has hurt the endgame as well – I love Jeff but he’s too slow. Spanish is a fast language and you can get round all the letters well in time. I think the calibration here is wrong, they probably need to be starting with 20-30 seconds more as a base just to have a chance to look at all the questions given an average score in the build up. There is also far too much downtime between control passing, the segment shouldn’t need more than five-six minutes, I didn’t think it exciting or tense I thought it was dragged out. Also marks lost for not revealing answers to passed questions at the end of the game.

    I do think it is a large problem, your big money prize still has to feel like it *could* be won even if it probably won’t be. By next Friday they’ll be £65k threatened but only £2500 given away (although fair play on a nominal sum for winning), but that’s £65k that you can’t logistically win.

    So… I don’t know. People say they like simplicity and lots of questions, you’ve certainly got it, but it’s certainly not very tense or exciting or funny or anything really.

    1. Little Timmy

      Lovely bloke is our Jeff, but he is about half the speed you need to even get round the circle in 120 seconds (4.6s/Q), irrespective of answers. Whatever happened to that voiceover guy on the Channel 4 series Grand Slam? Get him in the booth to read the questions and have Jeff ’emcee’, as they used to say on

      I didn’t catch wind of the scale of the prize monies in the introduction or in the build-up. I spent most of the episode thinking “surely they’ll stump up £10,000 for this” per episode unwon – I think a starting £5,000 plus £100 per correct answer is desperately stingy for such a technologically light production in this day and age.

      I think it will do significantly worse than Cash Trapped, and that seems a real shame considering the format’s continental pedigree. Brig’s right about everything as far as the endgame is concerned.

      The other ITV teatime stalwarts won’t be worrying for their recommissions just yet, I suspect. Another very poor summer. Little Timmy suspects it might be time to pop his formats in the post after 16 years of dithering.

      In summary: Pasapalabra.

  9. Cheesebiscuits

    Hi – I’ve been reading for a while and seeing as a lot of new shows are comming up soon, I thought I would join in the conversation.

    I have to say that I really enjoyed Alphabetical a LOT more than CT. For one thing, it was much simpler and the questions were at a nice difficulty. However, I agree that an oppurtunity was missed with the letters in the floor of the set, the questions delivery time was too slow and “alphabetical” rather than “pass” became tedious incredibly quickly. But those things can easily be changed if it went to full series.

    Round 3 was my faviourate round and I wish they made a bit more of it. Three seconds seems a little too fast. To gain the full 5 seconds of time you have to know the answer before the clue is given really.

    I found round 2 quite hard but that’s just because i’m not very good at words 🙂

    Round 4 (the buzzer round) could have been more interesting. If the answer could start with any of the remaining letters, the slow process of elimination would be more interesting to me.

    The final was interesting but waayyy toooo sloowwwww. Switching between players should be a fast process and again the question delivery meant that you would have to get every question right first time and still be pushed for time.

    I think Brig’s estimation of 65K is a bit out. The most the jackpot can increase in a day is £2,500 if the winner gets 25 questions right each show. 2500 x 9 shows remaing is 17500. Add the current £6,600 means the highest possible jackpot could be £24100 (which is still a lot to be fair). And considering it probably won’t be won, it could become a “tune in every day to see if they win” kind of sum.

    Interestingly, because it is a rollover jackpot, if it went to series, the production company would have to accept that the money built up in a show has to be won at some point even if it isn’t won in the show.

    Anyway, with a couple of tweaks (including speeding up the questions), I would tune into this over pointless any day.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I assumed it was £5,000 added per day, otherwise yes that is a bit stingy. For reference the Spanish show gives away €1,200 to the daily winner and adds a straight €6,000 daily.

      I have no idea why Spanish prizemoney for lots of shows tends to be divisible by six. Perhaps its a tax thing.

      1. Armadillo

        Reason for this is that 6.000 euros equal 1.000.000 pesetas (our former currency). Back in the day, for big money shows with a Jackpot they would add 1 million per episode.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Yeah, I gather when it changed channel they removed three of them. Also the prize is in pasetas which shows how old it is!

      The Spanish base time has varied between 85 and 110 seconds over the years but their quiz rounds are very different.

  10. David Howell

    I still think ITV should’ve picked up this format in 2006 and set the prizes and difficulty such that there’d probably, eventually, be a winner of more than £250k.

    Seeing as they were apparently so scared of DoND at that point (remember how it killed the CITV block?) that they were widely reported to be trying to just outright buy it IIRC, something that would threaten to give away even more and eventually do so – all whilst actually being on under £10k an hour – felt like a very good idea at the time to me.

    1. Tom H

      Yes, it does feel many years too late – the staging is also a bit odd, I think it’d benefit from far less intense lighting, and a real audience you can see (at least one of the Spanish incarnations had an audience in the round, no?)

      If we’re trying our hand at old foreign formats that never made it here until now, someone should think about resurrecting that skeleton and buying the rights to Cresus – although something definitely would have been lost in translation.

  11. John R

    Oh on a totally different subject, what on earth is the point of ‘Secret Dealers’?!

    As I’m an unemployed bum at the minute I rather enjoy watching the 3pm – 6pm ITV period (recently extended to 2pm – 6pm as I’ve become scarily addicted to Judge Rinder!) but it isn’t a patch on Dickinsons Real Deal!

    Rich home owners invite the same experts many of which as seen on The Duke’s show to roam around a home and find antiques which they’ve blatently already researched before filming anyway then pointlessly write their ‘bids’ down on cards then argue with each other and the home owner who will just stick to the valuation anyway!

    It’s a bit like they tried to rip off Cash In The Attic just without the auction element!

    1. Nico W.

      Wow, if this is a new format in the UK there’s a good chance it’s a Danish format. I have watched two episodes of it and it is fairly successful, but I can’t get my head around it as well. It seems really pointless and the only reason I kept watching was the great host! Can’t remember his name, but he is by far one of my favourite Danish hosts. But the rest of the format is just meh.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        No, Secret Dealers has been around for a couple of years.

        I think it’s quite fun, although I don’t quite understand why they write down a price and then bid up anyway.

  12. Brig Bother Post author

    1.4m for episode one I read, which actually is pretty good for a second half Chase replacement (although I suspect it also meant it lost viewers from Tipping Point).

    Also suggests Cash Trapped didn’t completely collapse last week.

  13. Kniwt

    The basic mechanics of the game are there and are (mostly) sound, but wow, every piece of excitement and urgency has been expertly surgically removed. I’m hesitant to suggest it, but this is one show where a generous helping of US-style production values might actually help.

    1. Thomas Sales

      I’m not so sure. I think most of the program’s problems could be solved with one simple tweak: Get rid of Jeff Stelling! He wasn’t bad on Countdown, but as a question master he is simply too slow.

  14. John R

    Crikey the last round is slow and Jeff keeps calling it tense when it isn’t really.

    They could speed it up quite a bit with a split screen and just bounce between the two contestants when they pass to each other!

  15. Brig Bother Post author

    Genuinely amazed they’re not adding £5k a day. Spain’s a bankrupt country, why is our version of their daily format cheaper?

    Also I’ve read a comment suggesting it’s too complicated. Really.

  16. Barry

    Nobody has managed to reach W yet on their respective wheels.

    With the contestants saying they are “under pressure” playing for £6,600 I dread to see what they would be like playing Alphabetical for a 6/7 figure sum like on some other versions.

  17. Little Timmy

    This is so terrible. I feel embarrassed for the production team. How can they have filmed one episode and not immediately noticed:

    Jeff saying the letter out loud and pausing for breath: 0.5s.
    Jeff reading the question: 3s.
    Contestant answering immediately: 0.5s.
    Jeff taking it in and saying “correct”: 1s.

    5 seconds x 26 letters. Go into this round with fewer than 130 seconds, you might as well not even bother. Hopeless. Is this the Waiting for Godot of quiz?

    Double the time rewards in all of the opening rounds.
    Remove the announcement of the letter and prepend ‘Yes’ to the next question as it appears on the host’s monitor.
    Reduce the questions to definitions.
    ‘Alphabetical’ -> ‘Pass’.

    You will still not find a winner in ten episodes.

    1. David B

      Word is that this was tested and has been completed as a game several times. I dare say the pilot questioneer was a faster reader than Jeff, and you’d need to be a real quizzer to get some of the questions right.

      I do agree that there’s no real need to say ‘correct’ or the letter when there’s sound effects and graphics to do that job for you.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I’m still getting over all this.

        Looking internationally The Alphabet Game format is so nebulous that it could incorporate anything really, but if one thing does define it it’s the endgame. When putting Alphabetical together the thinking is almost certainly “start with the endgame, work backwards”.

        Therefore to stuff it up quite so badly, given the experience behind Gameface, is kind of incredible.

        That they’ve tried to out 12 Yard 12 Yard for the rest of it is kind of incredible.

        That all the other versions look like fun and this one is set in a void is kind of incredible.

        To sum up: incredible.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          It’s shows like this that make me angry.

          If a show tries something different and fails that’s one thing. If a show comes in with some potential and clearly they stuff it up, especially given the names behind it, I can’t understand it.

          1. Thomas Sales

            You know what, I said it on the Cash Trapped discussion post, and I’ll say it again here. It wouldn’t surprise me if ITV purposely instruct the production companies to make rubbish game shows to make The Chase look better by comparison.

          2. Brig Bother Post author

            They are looking for shows to potentially cover for Tipping Point. This will not be the case.

          3. John R

            What did they even use to show in the 4pm slot pre Tipping Point? I was one of the people that thought it wouldn’t last past the first series, had it not been for Ben Shephard and his massive dictionary of Tipping Point terminology!

    2. mick

      little timmy is correct no one can win this jackpot with less than at least 160 points which is nigh on impossible to get so all they are paying out is 250 quid a day its a con it should be pass not alphabetical which takes more time to say

  18. Thomas Sales

    A letters-based game show in the teatime slot before the news. What a revolutionary idea! ITV have never done anything like this before!

    I don’t think this show is capable of delivering the 200+ questions it promises. Eight questions in the third round, thirteen in the fourth, fifty two (at the very, very most) in the final round. If I can add up correctly, this means for more than 200 questions, this leaves at least 128 to be asked in the eight sixty second quick-fires at the start and frankly not even Bradley can manage that.

  19. Matthew sandford

    You will need over 200 seconds in the final round to get 26 right as Jeff steling is not quick enough reading the questions NOWHERE near quick enough!!!!!! It’s need s decent host and could end up being popular

  20. Anna

    Anyone suggesting that Jeff Stelling is not a decent host is obviously not familiar with his work on a Saturday or they’d never suggest such a ludicrous thing.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Stelling’s a brilliant host, but they need to adapt the endgame to his speed or think about using someone else.

  21. Anna

    To me it looks like he has been told to slow it down. The man hardly pauses for breathe on a Saturday. Speaking at pace is not a problem for him.

  22. Special-K

    There was a question in the one of the episodes earlier this week. The letter was T and the question was about a 1998 Jim Carey film. Answer was Truman but the name of the film is “The Truman Show”. So could the contestant have correctly replied “The”?

    I find Kyle very annoying, the way he keeps grinning every time he’s spoken too. He looks like actor Curtis Armstrong (Moonlighting/Supernatural).
    And what was going on with Wednesday’s episode between Kyle and Peter? Kyle scores a measly 3 and Jeff asks Peter if he would have got Kyle’s questions right and Peter replies “Most of them. I’d have got more than 3” (!!) and later in the programme pointing to Kyle and saying to Judith “I hope you dethrone him”. Was there some off-screen hostility we’re not aware of? I think that comment should have been edited out.

  23. Dave

    I’ve seen a couple of episodes this week, and I’m not a fan.

    Don’t get me wrong, the format is solid. Lots of good questions, aimed at a nice difficulty for TV viewers. I look forward to playing along with every round. It wouldn’t surprise me if this has moderate and repeatable success.

    However, the questions are asked so slowly that practically makes the endgame unwinnable, and that annoys me. From the episodes I’ve seen, the contestant has had enough time to get near round all the letters, and it just makes the show look cheap. I’d rather upping the time and/or speed as well as the difficulty. There’s not even a feasible strategy for incorrectly interrupting as there are some really nasty traps that seem to prevent this:

    (Starting with N) “What compass point is opposite south-east?”
    (Starting with I) “Ice Hockey Team, Ice Hockey Team and Ice Hockey team all play on which surface?”

    You could see Nicky today look very aggrieved at the adjudication on this last one. It’s a shame as it’s so close to a very good show but it just feels rigged against the players.

  24. Thomas Sales

    I’ve finally got round to watching Friday’s episode, and it got me thinking: Would it be worth adding a fourth challenger and getting rid of him after “last letter” before the first ad break?

  25. Greg

    Been sticking with this but much preferred Cash Trapped. I just can’t see how that jackpot is going to be won. I also do not think this has the excitement of a 5PM quiz. I think it would sit much better at lunchtime in a similar slot that Brainteaser use to sit in on Channel 5.

    Think everything else has been said really.

  26. Arun U

    The “audience” for Alphabetical is one of the worst ever. It is much better on the chase, cash trapped and Tipping Point. That is the least of my problems with this show. Obviously they didn’t get Jeff to read the questions in the run-through. Jeff is a great host, just not for this sort of show. And white text on light grey background is quite frankly impossible to read
    Bring back Cash Trapped

  27. Brig Bother Post author

    I’ve just read suggestion this got 1.67m last night, which would actually be pretty good.

    Edit: Should also point out not against the Olympics this week, so may well have picked up some casual viewers yesterday.

  28. debi

    did anyone else notice that they must have the wrong answer to a question tonight? the H question in the last round was who won the 2007 F1, ….it was kimi raikkonen….thats not H thats R, i think they was going to say Hamilton but he won it in 2008. unless I heard wrong??

    1. Daniel H

      The question was “What is the surname of the Formula 1 driver who had his first win at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix?” so Hamilton is correct though it is rather a lengthy quickfire question!

      Highest time so far today – 144 seconds – and they still only got to the X Question.

      1. David

        I could cut a ton of words out- it should read something like:

        H- “F1 Driver who first won at the 2007 Canadian GP”

        Same information, and the rule should be all questions involving a name refer to the surname automatically unless specifically stated.

        If you take 2 seconds to read out a question and 2 seconds to answer, you need 104 seconds to get all 26 assuming no passes. If you take 3 seconds to read out a question and 2 seconds to answer, you need 130 seconds. So if you want someone to have a decent shot at winning, ideally the questions should probably average about 2.5 seconds with a 2 second answer time- that would be 117 seconds, which is reasonable enough to get, and if you had 130 plus, there would be room for a couple of passes if needed.

  29. Scousegirl

    Jeff Stelling is almost funereal, contestants have no chance of completing in time.
    A major error – Jeff announces an ‘Acronym’ round but in fact hardly any are acronyms, just sets of initials. You would expect at least one of the seven people invoved in the question setting to know this!
    Making contestants say ‘Alphabetical’ is unfair and irritating.

  30. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    So, Alphabetical draws to a close and, as we all thought, the jackpot was never in any danger of being won.

    If the show WAS to come back for another go (Hey, Rebound got another series, so stranger things have happened!), then there’d need to be some MAJOR changes to the format. Here’s what I would change:

    1) Change the rounds a bit to offer more time, if possible
    2) If a question is answered wrongly in the Thirteen Letters round, throw the question open to the others instead of just giving the answer. That removes time from the game
    3) Shorten the questions in the final round to a snappy description, rather than a long-winded ramble with a lot of pointless info, or where the point of the question isn’t clear until the end, and…

    1. Danny K

      Agree toall of your options plus add one of my own.

      Starting letter is passed to another player after every clue 3 second limit is reached. Gives more seconds opportunity to other players.

  31. Roy attwood

    Annoying format where the champion stays on especially when you can’t stand them and pray for them to get knocked out
    Champion status is unfair on the opposition as after many shows he will obviously be more relaxed and have the advantage.
    Still it doesn’t really matter as unless they get 150 seconds they have no chance of winning the jackpot.
    And there is no way you can get that much time with the current format.
    I won’t even mention how laboured Jeff is .
    On one show the challenger managed to get To the same point as the champ with one question to go which he clearly answered in time but Jeff f…ed him over just to keep Dickie in
    Bring back cash trapped.

  32. Brett Linforth

    Well, according to Weaver’s Week, the show has been renewed! I’m quite pleased if I’m honest – let’s hope if Jeff comes back either the final round questions are slightly shorter or his reading speed has increased!

  33. Martin

    I know the original show Pasapalabra in Spain. That odds a truly quick fire question show. The guy that asks the questions is incredibly fast.
    Jeff, on the other hand on the UK version is painfully slow, to the point of boredom. How is anyone supposed to complete the final round at that pace? The whole format of the show (as it had been changed) is inferior. The point builders hand no fun and they have clearly tried to keep the show cheap by not including celebrities to help in the points building.
    Could have been good, but they’ve ruined it. I won’t be watching it further

  34. Bob

    Whats with the annoying clicking noise while the host is asking questions?

  35. Alasdair Mackay

    Whilst I find the game a bit annoying for the same reasons as many other posters, it is a pleasure for ITV to actually screen a quiz programme which does not rely on presenters with a poor command of the English language, ‘pregnant’ pauses or ‘answers after the break’. Bradley ‘you was’ Walsh take note. Jeff does need to speed up though.

  36. Terry

    Everything about this show (including the host) is wrong. The format needs drastic revision. Essentially, it is a 30-minute show stretched to an hour by Jeff Stelling’s interminable waffling.
    Nobody cares that Susie played the trumpet when she was at school. It adds nothing! We don’t want or need to “know” the contestants.
    We don’t need to be told that there are 8 letters left and 16 points to be won and that Jimmy needs at least 6 to stay in, followed a minute later being informed that there are now 5 letters left and Jimmy has to answer them all correctly to stay in. We can see all that.
    The “Letter showdown” format is absurd. It is ridiculous that the contestant who has accumulated, perhaps, 139 seconds, should lose to the champion who has only 123 seconds. This round should go. Whoever has the most seconds should play the final round with the 26 questions.
    It is impossible for Stelling to read the questions in fewer than 125 seconds and so a win with fewer than about 145 seconds is also impossible.
    But, it doesn’t appear that the producers want a winner anyway. For ‘O’, the question was, “What is a hard, dark, glass-like volcanic rock formed by the rapid cooling of lava without crystallization.” Answer: obsidian. That is specialist knowledge and not general knowledge and there is a question like that in every show.
    1. Change the host.
    2. Cut out the waffle.
    3. Shorten the time to 30 minutes.
    4. Scrap the final elimination round.
    5. Start the game with an extra 20 seconds.

      1. Terry

        I disagree with you. I don’t think that most people know of obsidian. Questions are never easy or difficult. You either know the answer or don’t.
        How about this question that was asked? (V) “Which Hungarian hunting dog has a smooth, reddish coat?” The answer is Vizsla. Maybe I am particularly ill-informed but I have never heard of the breed.
        When this question was asked: (E) “Which word can follow mechanical, chemical and civil to give common university degree courses?” the contestant jumped in after ‘civil’ to say “engineer”. If the question had gone on to say “….to give professions?” he would have been right. The question should have been, (E) “What degree courses can begin mechanical, chemical or civil?”
        With this question, (O) “In a court of law which word is used for a declaration sworn in person such as a promise to tell the truth?” the contestant jumped in and said “order”.
        To avoid ambiguity, the question should have read, (O) “A declaration to tell the truth in a court of law is a what?”
        Either the producers are doing all they can to avoid having a winner or the production is unbelievably sloppy, rushed and careless.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          “I’ve never heard of it” is different to “that’s not general knowledge”.

          As for there’s no such thing as an easy or hard question – yes there is, of course there is. Pointless quantifies it on a daily basis.

          1. Arun

            Sorry, but I’m with Brig on this. Just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean nobody else does. You could take music or film, for example. Both of those topics I have difficulty in but I completely accept other people know a lot about them. Feel free to disagree, but I think you’ll find that we are right.

  37. Terry

    You are both completely wrong. Maybe I have not made myself clear.
    I think you are confusing a ‘problem’ with ‘a question on a fact’.
    A ‘problem’ may be easy or hard. An easy problem is, “Find x if 2x = 10”, whereas, “Find x when √(x + 12) + √x = 6”, is relatively harder.
    “What is the capital of France” is no harder than, “How many words beginning with ‘m’ are in the book of Exodus?” if you know both answers.
    An Amazonian Indian probably would not know the name of the US President but would know all kinds of facts about plants that you and i don’t.
    Therefore, I still maintain that there can be no such thing as an easy or hard general knowledge question.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          But not Uni Chall, because clearly it would be beneath them.

          All question difficulty is is a probability someone may or may not know a fact. Professional question setters have innate gut feelings about this because they’ve asked similar to thousands of people.

          What you’ve done is confuse “general knowledge” – uncategorised knowledge (i.e. knowledge) – with “common knowledge” – that which lots of people know. The difference is wide.

    1. Alex McMillan

      The difficulty of a question simply comes down to what percentage of people would know the answer. Difficult questions have answers known by less people than easy questions, the same metric by which you can measure the difficulty of a problem. Both are due to different reasons (General knowledge permeates through society differently than mathematical knowledge, obviously) but the outcome is the same.

      More people know the 44th President of the United States is Barack Obama than know the 11th President of the United States is James K. Polk, meaning that “Who was the 11th President of the USA?” is a more difficult question. Sure, you can make an argument that it’s all contextual, but isn’t everything? The point of general knowledge is you’re assuming the question is being asked to a member of the general public, not a specific group.


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