Show Discussion: 500 Questions UK

By | August 22, 2016

500_questionsukMonday 9pm,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8pm,

Probably the most intriguing of all the MEGA MONDAY shows, popular ITV1 personality Giles Coren (Vicky’s brother and outspoken restaurant critic) fronts the much anticipated UK version of so-so popular throw-everything-at-a-wall-and-hope-it-sticks US quiz 500 Questions.

500 Questions charges contestants with answering 500 questions correctly without ever getting three wrong in a row. There is a light strategic element in category picking, and an opponent hopes to throw a few spanners in the works to take their place and try and win money for themselves. One of the big criticisms of the US show is that this opponent feels very much like a fifth wheel, there were murmurings that Wall to Wall were going to try and adapt the format to suit the savvier UK audience but we’ll have to see what, if anything, they’ve done. Contestants get to take home cash if they get through at least one round of fifty questions.

Here’s some brief discussion on series one and series two of the US show for background.

If it’s at the same speed as the US show you can probably expect it to get through around 200-230 questions in its four episode run so expect lots of complaints about that. We’re intrigued that the advert paints Coren as quite an abrasive host which would be quite different to how it’s played out in the US. Whilst it’s only really been successful as filler in the US it sounds like in Germany it’s been quite successful. Our episodes have actually been filmed on the German set.

Obviously we’re now looking forward to Giles Coren turning up on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Celebrity Juice in the near future. If Judge Rinder will do them…

57 thoughts on “Show Discussion: 500 Questions UK

  1. Peter Todd

    Brilliant show, was not sure about Giles hosting but quickly changed my mind he makes the perfect host, finally somebody diffrent hosting a ITV quiz show.
    The rules & game play is easy to follow and great game to play along with.
    The thing I would change is the prize money. Play it like the usa version but maybe ITV wanted the prize be lower. I will give it a 9/10.
    I am glad its on nightly. This may suit the ratings and if its a flop ITV dont have to carry it on for weeks on end.
    The first show will get around 3m mark.

  2. Andrew 'Kesh' Sullivan

    OK, the question on everyone’s lips is ‘How does our version work compared to the Yanks and the Krauts?” 😀

    Well, it’s pretty much the same as those, except if someone gets 3 wrong in a row, the challenger doesn’t start from Question 1 again. Instead, they inherit the money where the last player left off and a new challenger is brought in. Questions are worth £500 each, and the types of special questions used are Battles, Triple Threats and Lightning Rounds.

    Lightning Rounds consist of one question from each category, doubling up on some categories if all the questions in one or more categories have already been asked. Triple Threats are NOT worth triple the money, just the standard £500 for getting 3 answers.

    One gripe, they will only ask a batch of 50 questions in an episode, so it would take 10 episodes to do the titular 500. This makes me wonder, will we EVER get a decent ‘quiz marathon’ format that gets through LOADS of questions in a quick timeframe? I don’t think so…

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    Basically everything I’ve written about the US show with the following caveats:

    * I quite like the way they’ve completely sidestepped the ‘can you answer 500 Questions?’ thing by suggesting the board has 500 Questions of which 50 are selected for the game, therefore gives a reasonable level of finity.

    * There appears to be even less strategy for the challengers as they have nothing to go on. The turnover is more down to the standard of the contestants, which isn’t high. And bad luck if your turn comes up towards the end.

    * They really should have thought about greying out spent categories.

    The questions were decent. The show itself remains not really compelling.

  4. Lukachkinas

    Studio and lightning were looking nice at the beggining, but after 8th or 9th “trap (c)” it started being annoying. Decent questions, although it’s 12 minutes after the end of the show and I can’t remember a single one of them. I even could stand Giles (he certainly needs question cards, now it looked ridiculous). The worst part of it is contestants. 24 out of 50??? 3 eliminated players in one episode??? WHAT.
    Though rooting for Mickey, hope she does good enough tommorow.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    This is up against Bake Off on Wednesday so I don’t know if they’re being hopeful or burning this off or what.

  6. Arun U

    So 50 questions per show, and only 4 episodes in the (hopefully only) series. That equals 200 questions, you get more questions per show in Cash Trapped. ITV ARE LIARS!!!!!!!! THERE ARE NOT 500 QUESTIONS!!!!
    Just saying that the music is awful, the only positive I can find is the adding money on graphics are quite nice. Hall of Shame 2016, here it comes.

  7. Mark L

    (I will declare an interest here in that I tried to get an audition to host this show)

    I really want itv to produce a hit primetime quiz show. The original US version had a clear ambition: to get their best trivia players in a high stakes gladiatorial contest. While it didn’t succeed they did try picking superstar quizzers and an amped up audience.

    The British version…. Just has no clear mission. Even the title does not connect to the show at all. Contestants from the “personality” end of the spectrum compete and it feels more like quizzing pass the parcel with who is lucky enough to still be standing at the 50th question.

    The challenger is basically redundant, most of the time they do very little to dislodge the champion. To be likely to run the whole 50 questions you need to be getting 75% right and no-one so far looks that good.

    My prediction for tomorrow is a bare two million and to be below 1.5 when it faces GBBO on Wednesday 🙁

    1. Arun U

      Got to feel sorry for Liam, literally spent 12 minutes standing in a studio unable to do anything apart from feel more disappointed as the show went on.

  8. Brig Bother Post author

    I find the Lightning Round a bit ridiculous, the only real difference is that there’s no waffle between the questions (well you also only get one go) but it’s frankly not as exciting as it tries to be.

  9. John R

    I didn’t really get into this, maybe I’ll give it another episode but even little things started to get annoying like ‘You’ve got a wrong’

    Not that they ever will, but if only ITV would reconsider Duel with a few format tweaks in the same slot it might do quite well…

  10. Arun U

    “You’ve got to remove that wrong against your name!”
    What kind of catchphrase is that?

    1. Alex

      I think he used the exact phrase “you’ve eradicated a wrong” at least five times.

      1. Arun U

        Forget “You’ve eradicated a wrong”, “No more questions for you” is the worst catch phrase on a my game show.

  11. Wrong Guess!

    I’m glad he kept telling us that if they get 3 wrong they’re off the show. Because if he hadn’t kept telling me every 4 minutes, I’d have forgotten

    I found it incredibly boring. No atmosphere in the studio and no tension when they got a question wrong.

  12. Arun U

    Just seeing the series was 4 episodes long and is a supposed replacement for WWTBAM, let’s just remind everyone that Shafted was a “replacement” for WWTBAM and was pulled after 4 episodes. Just saying…

  13. Brig Bother Post author

    It’s quite weird when someone gets eliminated on a Lightning Run, it doesn’t feel like the Challenger has earnt it at all, even less so than they would normally.

  14. Lukachkinas

    Okay, let’s examine the most irritating thing with this format. Episode two:
    We are starting with reigning champion Mickey. She gets 7 out of 15.
    Then it’s Vicky – a blonde, who can’t park a car after 12 years of learning (impressive profile, casting researches, I really feel she should be on a quiz). She gets 4 out of 7.
    After her is Dom – a medical student. He gets 5 out of 8.
    Then it’s a lady in red, whose name I forgot. 9/15, best result in the episode.
    But, she gets knocked out on a question about Blue in Eurovision.
    And then this prick in a ridiculous shirt goes on. He had 5 questions to go through. Her challenger was a student with 5 A*s. Two Xs. A battle. And she loses a battle, because she wasn’t clear enough. And then it’s literature question. That guy in charge says he read one book in a lifetime. And gets a question on children’ book. And by miracle gets it right. And that was question 50.


    1. Simon

      You could make your final sentence point about In It To Win It. Someone can get no questions right in the first part of the quiz and get lucky to be picked just before the klaxon and then gets their final question right.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I’ve never had an issue with In It To Win It because it’s always inherently had a large luck element. 500Qs pitches itself as a Tough Quiz Challenge.

        1. Des Elmes

          IItWI is looking pretty tired at this stage, though.

          It’s been on the air for nearly a decade and a half, it’s done just about everything it can possibly do, and the now-sexagenarian Dale doesn’t have the same energy he once had.

          Plus viewing figures have been decreasing steadily in the last few years – it only gets around 3.5 million viewers now, compared to 5-7 million in its heyday.

          1. Des Elmes

            Oh, crap – I guess fake “probably-unnecessary-rant” tags above and below a comment intended as such will not display if you enclose said tags within angle brackets…

          2. Brig Bother Post author

            I think you’re confusing me with someone who thinks IItWI is an amazingly brilliant show when it’s just entertaining enough and doesn’t deserve half the invective thrown in its direction, most of whom also can’t tell the difference between ‘unfair’ and ‘unjust’.

          3. Des Elmes

            My apologies, Brig.

            It was just your mention of the show that set me off there – I certainly didn’t intend to confuse you with someone who thinks it’s an amazingly brilliant show.

            I’ve never had any issues with it either. Indeed, when I was a regular viewer during its heyday, there were moments on the show that actually amused me – like on the episode of 8 May 2010, when Lucy, a pretty young lady, made it onto Winners’ Row just before the klaxon, guessed her only question and won the full £60k prize fund as a result, while Stevie was responsible for about three-quarters of that fund yet won nothing after getting his final question wrong.

            But I *do* feel that IItWI has passed its ask-by date at this stage. And I have to admit that, even four years on, I’m still a bit miffed that the Beeb pulled the plug on Secret Fortune after its third series, when it probably still had one or two left in it…

            (Actually, that might make a good discussion: which shows can justifiably be claimed to have continued, or be continuing, beyond their ask-by dates? Millionaire and DOND are probably the two most obvious examples.)

      2. Tom F

        Funny, this afternoon I thought to myself our 500Q is basically a cheaper In it to win it. But yeah, as Brig says, 500Q is much more annoying because they’re trying to pretend it’s something it’s not.

  15. Chris M. Dickson

    (Based on the first episode, and probably the only one I’ll watch.)

    You know this is a completely different sort of show to Avanti Un Altro!. I do too. A commissioner who wasn’t thinking too hard might not, though, let alone a random punter.

    Work with me on this one. There’s a string of contestants, and once one loses, the next in line carries on. The contestants answer question after question on successions of different subjects. Sometimes the gameplay changes to a completely different mechanic.

    This is mostly facetious, though clearly 500 Questions would be at least 2/10 less bad if it had 21 Questions Wrong at the end of the show. I do wonder whether there’s anything more than mere coincidence that no country has yet had their own version of both shows. Britain has got by far the poorer end of the bargain… and I fear that the US has, as well.

    As much as I liked the “you get cash only if your first answer is correct” stipulation in the US show, I don’t think this is a worse version of the show than the US original, and I do think the basic concept (“don’t get three wrong in a row, someone else picks the category when you’re at risk”) is essentially sound. The show needs smoothing out, and it probably needs to be reformatted for that; it’s not a million miles away from an interpretation of Brig’s “Quiz OutRun” idea, which would probably be a much more compelling watch.

    Nevertheless, I’ll give reformatting a go. Asking for categories after each question adds a dull and pretty much needless extra step, much like picking boxes in DoND when it really doesn’t matter, and the implicit step where we wait and see if a question is a special category or not is another clunk in the process. I’d knock the categories down to pods of three rather than pods of five, make people play through an entire category at a time (barring the “when you’re at risk, someone else chooses” special case) and make the third category in each pod a special question format rather than popping them up unpredictably.

    The show isn’t objectionable, and I liked the contestants, but the whole thing is making a pretty strong claim for the Hall of Shame through being such a damn herky-jerky, slow, charmless brute. 3/10.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I’ve always maintained AuA done properly (i.e. Like the Italians, not dark) would be absolutely heartland ITV stuff, but also involves the sort of writing and creative effort a lot of teams couldn’t be bothered with. I would hate to see a UK commissioner let loose with it so these days I’m quietly thankful a UK version didn’t happen.

      So we get 500 Questions instead which is just stodge in quiz form wherever it seems to land. Except unlike most stodge this becomes unpalatable quite quickly. I can’t work out what my reason for watching would be. Neither game nor story are very compelling.

    2. Tom F

      Really interesting comment Chris. I wonder what 500Q would be like if itv had simply bolted on Avanti’s Retirement mechanic? Also, for what it’s worth, I back Horne/Key/Watson as the team who could deliver on AuA uk.

        1. Chris M. Dickson

          I was thinking about this. Seems like a brilliant shout, not least because he’d be brilliant at the mucking around and interacting with the characters. My question is whether he would be fast enough and fluent enough to host the 21 Questions Wrong finale, when the issue of host fluency in a necessarily-very-fast lots-of-questions-against-the-clock round is so much in vogue.

          Might this be the question where Mark Williams is the answer? His The Fast Show experience would easily match up to Bob’s, and perhaps he has the verbal dexterity to get through 21QW. (I just like the idea of a Brummie accent at 240 wpm.)

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            I think that would be quite an interesting proposition although suspect he’s a bit too aloof, probably better off as a character.

            Also Trevor and Simon should come on as The Singing Corner.

            Honestly I’ve got this all worked out, The Jinx as an Ozzy Osbourne style character named Darren De’ath. 20m viewers at 5pm.

  16. Cheesebiscuits

    It seems crazy that they are only recording four episodes for a five day week and in turn, are only using 200 of the 500 questions. Is it possible that they thought they had enough contestants for 10 shows but they overestimated the players capabilities and so had to cut it short?

    The other thing I was interested in was the audience. We know this was filmed on the german set so is the audience german or english? For half the questions, the audience may have no clue as to what is going on.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the show but it does feel a little flat. The “traps” which Giles tells them to avoid slow the game right down (although I think the battle is necessary). The fact we’re only going to see 200 questions means we’re only getting 40% of the show name. I was suprised that I liked Giles as host – in fhe adverts he looks like a d*** but in the show he keeps it light hearted.

    However, I really don’t like that they get rid of the challenger at the end of 50Q’s. All the other people get to have a go. At the end of the series, all contestants will have had a go apart from four who just had to watch and then be told they weren’t going to play the board.

    A lot of things were wrong with this show but 2/3 out of 10 seems a little low. I’d certainly give it a 6/10 for a competent quiz.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      No it was always going to be four episodes (they’ve known that since it was commissioned), I would imagine most of the German audience would speak quite good English, although may not understand acutely British references.

  17. pauline

    the game is ok but the compere. isn’t rather have ben or bradley

  18. Qusion

    From as an unbiassed a view as I can manage. (and I’m pretty good, I just keep my nose out of ITV formats that are rubbish – and there have been many!)

    I quite like it, my colleagues quite like it andI’m kind of surprised at how disliked it seems to be here.

    It’s questions, some of them quite challenging, at a decent pace, with a not-too-complicated mechanic. It doesn’t mess around building up ‘a story’, there is no pointless chit chat. There are no dramatic pauses while we wait for the answer to be revealed, we do not have to listen to someone ‘talking through’ their answer. The host is entertaining, reasonably amusing and has clearly been to the Victoria Coren school of charm.

    What’s not to like?

    I do have a major gripe though – if you are going to have winner stays on, then you need to have challenger stays on too. Especially as it is quite possible to get through all 50 questions.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      It’s all so one note. I look at the board at the beginning and sigh that we’re going to have to go through all of that before anything resembling excitement happens – it’s work. It throws rules at people and the variations are not that interesting anyway, and you’re challenged to avoid the traps even though you have to hit them to get through the board anyway. The challenger still barely does anything. The way the show ends is anticlimactic and *lousy*. When someone loses it doesn’t matter because we’re not expecting anybody to go on a long run anyway.

      I stand up for Giles Coren as host, although I’m not sure if charm is the operative word.

      It does solve one major problem of the US show that if someone craps out at 200-ish questions we don’t have to wait four episodes plus before it might look like getting interesting again.

      What about this show is *entertaining* from the audience perspective? What is my reason for tuning in? I appreciate the standard of the questions but I’m not a quiz nerd, there’s little for me and little to root for.

        1. Mart With A Y Not An I

          And also remember, Mr Coren, when the contestant who was standing at the podium at the end of the previous show leaves during the next one – they (by a small thing called ‘the rules’) have actually won some money.

          They don’t leave with ‘nothing’ as you claimed last night.

  19. Thomas Sales

    Am I going absolutely mad or did Andrew end with two strikes at the end of yesterday’s episode? And why is there an annoying echo on my audio (although perhaps that’s my recorder malfunctioning in the heat)?

  20. Brig Bother Post author

    Interestingly this held its (low) 1.8m audience against Bake Off last night, although I’d be interested to know how much was on +1. Even the official Twitter account did its one tweet at 10pm.

  21. Alex McMillan

    Feeling a severe “Bit Of A Wasted Journey” for challengers who arrive during the final 10 questions of the night. Seems like it would be more fair to say the challengers have 25 questions or so to knock a player out, which rolls over to another episode if necessary. Or just giving the challenger more agency in general…

  22. Brig Bother Post author

    Well it sounds like channel controller Kevin Lygo doesn’t like 500 Questions if reports from Edinburgh are anything to go by.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      2.1m for the final episode.

      I did watch it all week in fairness despite finding it largely a struggle, so there’s that.

  23. Arun U

    Is it just me or did Gile’s tie change from being green to green with white dots in a single shot? And also, NO MORE QUESTIONS FOR YOU!!!

  24. Arun U

    Forgot to mention in my last post, the opening titled are shockingly poor. All it is is some shots from the screen as the game progresses.

  25. Mart With A Y Not An I

    (Sharpens Pencil..)

    I too watched it all week.

    And (here’s the achillies heal of posting 5 days after everyone else) I agree with the thought that whilst it wasn’t the American-German car crash in an English accent, that some feared. It was certainly a good format struggling to escape from the straightjacket that the UK production team shoved it into. You had to pay attention to the host telling you what is (or was going to) happen, and that was the only ‘hair on the dinner plate’ of Mr Coren.

    It has potential. It really does. And with a little spit and polish, it could flow better. So, spending a little time last night – I came up with the following.

    Keep the 10 x 5 subjects 50 questions per show format – and re-enforce the idea that viewers are not going to see a show with 500 questions per show.

    Keep the lightening round – although slight tweak in that the contestant chooses the first category, then the questions are asked in category sequence from left to right downwards after the one chosen.

    Keep the Battle round.

    Drop the Triple Threat round. That’s just a lazy solo re-working of Battle.

    Add – Double Down.
    Built into the challengers poduim is a hidden button. Only once, if the challenger thinks the contestant will answer the question wrong – they press the Double Down button. It is only revealed it’s in play once the answer has been given. If the challenger is correct, and the contestant answered wrong, 2 red X’s are given.

    However, to add a bit of jeopardy to the challenger, if the contestant correctly answered the question – it is the challenger who is knocked out of the game and leaves.

    One final change – correct answers win £1,000 (so answer all 50 for £50,000) however, to keep the bean counters happy, correct answers to (wait – this should have been the shows catchprase) ‘Right a Wrong’ doesn’t win any money – it just wipes out the red crosses.

    I’m now trapped with the thought that I hope it gets a second series, but can spot the cracks in the premises if its condemmed after just one run.

    ITV did in no favours flinging it out in the middle of summer – giving it the 7pm Sunday shoulder to X-Factor for 4 weeks, may have helped – and I whether it’s because I knew it was recorded in the ‘other’ major studio facility in Cologne, but it did lack atmosphere (ironic, given Wall To Wall is ownded by Warner Bros, and they do have a fairly large studio just next to Watford that they could have recorded the UK version in)
    Nothing against Giles Coren as the host. Could have been easy to parachue Mullhern, Kay or Walsh in to do the job.
    Problem he had was that he had to work with too many rules, and juddery format, and a weak script.

    It’s on my hall of fame – and shame – shortlist for this year.
    As it was broadcast 7.5/10 but with a bit more care and attention could have been 9/10.

  26. Thomas Sales

    I thought it was odd they didn’t air an episode on Friday, because I felt that the show was quite repetitive (repeating the position after every question) and might well have worked as a half-hour show between Coronation Street.

  27. Philip Wharmby

    Found it to be a better quiz series than most. How do you apply to be a contestant if/when there is a Series 2


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