Friday, 20 February 2015

Quiz Shows

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Quiz shows have changed so much over the years. Not only in content, difficulty, but in the prizes they offer.

When I was a kid (many years ago) the two top shows were Double Your Money with Hughie Green and Take Your Pick with Michael Miles. Neither shows required any form of intelligence, just the ability to say "Yes" or "No" at the right time, or to point to a box and decided whether to open it. Amazingly both had audiences that either of the two main channels would kill for these days. Both were on ITV as well.

There were, of course, two other quiz shows that were far more cerebral. Call My Bluff was a must-see on BBC2 and was more for celebrities to try to fool each other as to the true meaning of an obscure word. It's a format that has now been brought back successfully with Would I Lie To You, though the swearing is something Frank Muir would never have indulged in!

The other quiz was University Challenge; probably the longest running quiz show in the UK, though it has changed channels and presenters. Bamber Gascoigne always seemed like a university don, or even one of the contestants, rather than a quiz master and so much background knowledge that if someone gave an incorrect, but close answer, Bamber would be able to explain why the error had been made and fill in all the gaps. However in a programme about the show he explained he spent hours doing research so he could appear omniscient! Bamber now owns and runs a history website called Historyworld  It's well worth a visit.

Jeremy Paxman took over from Bamber and the show continues to be a must-see on a Monday night.

Mastermind is in much the same mould, testing contestants' knowledge on specific subjects as well as general knowledge.  

The one thing that University Challenge and Mastermind have in common, asides from the difficulty of their questions, is the fact that the only prize on offer after the entire series has finished is a trophy.... no money, just kudos.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire changed all that with hardly anyone going away with less than £1,000 and many people taking £32,000 or twice that back home. Greed came to the quiz shows big time. Other shows tried to follow the format, but none lasted the pace and now WWTBAM has gone as well.

Monday is quiz show evening, starting with Link (Mark Williams), Pointless (Alexander Armstrong), Two Tribes (Richard Osman), Eggheads (Jeremy Vine), University Challenge (Jeremy Paxman) and Only Connect (Victoria Coren-Mitchell). On Dave, repeats of Have I got News for You and QI appear most nights and even programmes like Bullseye and Catchphrase are repeated regularly. Only one question remains unanswered.... who thinks up all the questions and when will they run out?

I wonder when they'll also bring back Double Your Money and Take Your Pick, because everything seems to be going full circle!

Blog on, Dudes!


  1. One of my daughters went on a quiz show a few years ago - a sort of crossword one, but I can't remember what it was called. She beat the two male contestants and took home a handsome prize (in £s), but only because she knew when to stop and didn't get greedy. I think it was on channel 5. Since then she has been invited to other shows, too - but she has 4 children, including two year old twins - and an extension being built for mother-in-law... Can you imagine Come Dine With Me? Pity though, she's a fab cook!

    1. Do the TV companies have a database of contestants they want to make repeat appearances, Marit?
      I was in the audience for Pointless a year or so ago and it took nearly 2 hours to record a 45 minute show, so you don't see all the mistakes, retakes and where the electronic score kit breaks down. We were treated like cattle and as far as the host presenter was concerned we might as well not have been there. It was an experience though, and I still enjoy the end-product!

    2. I think they do, Richard, as Bethan has been invited to a few. She applied for the first one. They were told what not to wear (colour-wise), so as not to outshine the presenter. To me, Bethan did anyway. I think it might be interesting to be in the audience once, to see all the mistakes, and how it really comes together, but I bet you wouldn't want to sit through that again.

    3. I wore the pink shirt I wear for signings... and it was frowned on but there was little they could do! Alexander Armstrong on Pointless was only concerned with the contestants and the cameras, which I suppose is only right. He also kept getting messages from the producer to do something again, which was sometimes puzzling because we didn't hear the messages! Richard Osman who copresents and devised the show was much more interactive. Even so they showed us fleetingly a couple of times (pink shirt and all), but our laughter, clapping etc and the shots were all out of sequence and mostly recorded during the half time break. There were only about 50 to 60 people in the audience and as soon as the recording was finished we were ushered out and the next audience moved in. They actually record 3 to 4 shows every day! Mary and I were invited to be in the audience for a new BBC2 quiz show, but we decided against it! So they must keep a database of audiences too.

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