Quiz Shows

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I love a quiz show, but why are there so many on during the day and nothing in the evening anymore?

Today I caught a couple I hadn’t seen before on Channel 4 – “The common denominator” and “Five minutes to win a fortune” both good ideas, but both had dafties on as contestants. The other one I’ve discovered during my holidays was “Tipping Point” based on the coin shelf games you get in amusement arcades – load of old rubbish, but I watched because it became quite hypnotic. Add the brilliant “Pointless” with Xander and Richard, “The Chase” and “Eggheads” and there are some good daytime quiz shows.

There used to be more when I was growing up during peak time – that weren’t celebrity editions – alongside the daytime quizzes like “15 to 1”, “Catchword”, “Chain Letters” and “Going for Gold”. So where have they all gone? Well I have a theory!

Back in 1998 a show hit our screens called “Who wants to be a Millionaire” presented by the ridiculously tall Chris Tarrant. In it people would try to answer fifteen questions of increasing difficulty to win one million pounds. And that killed the quiz show. Why? Because a quiz show was never about winning a huge amount of money it was about being smarter that everyone else and then the prize was the bonus on top. Also there should be heaps of questions not just fifteen so everyone at home can join in and feel like they are taking part too. TV Executives seem to have the impression we don’t want to see someone wining £5000 anymore, but they’re wrong.

The other mistake they have made is to presume we’d rather see celebrities take part in these programmes – and we don’t. We like to root for Joe Bloggs from Randomville who’s a Painter and Decorator but seems to know the answers to all the questions being thrown at him. Family Fortunes is a great example of throwing a celebrity family on to a good format and making it boring. Get the general public back on quiz shows and put some back on in the evening please. I love supporting a complete stranger and willing them on to win a holiday or a car or a few thousand pounds because they’ve shown they know something.

It’s great TV and one of the reasons people watch the likes of “Deal or No Deal” because we get to know someone, find a little bit out about them and then be on their side as they try to win. How many times have you watch “Deal” and a really deserving person has walked away with £10,000 and been happy for them? Or on “Pointless” where the Jackpot might only be £3000 but you punch the air when the young couple win it. It’s classic feel good telly and we need more of it.

I’d much rather watch “Telly Addicts”, “Jeopardy!” or “Mastermind” at 8pm on a weeknight than some random docu-soap on binmen or toe nail clipping collectors. We’re not all stupid, we don’t need to see celebrities on every programme and we don’t need to have massive jackpots or prizes. We just want to play along at home with a wee quiz to show off to our families and cheer on a stranger as they win a car. Is that too much to ask?

JD

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