Do you read “Weaver’s Week” ? If you don’t, allow me to point you in its direction since it’s very good. You’ll find it on the UK Gameshows.com website. I’m indebted to this week’s column, since I had somehow managed to miss this show, and only know about it from reading about it on Weaver’s Week. I went over to the Channel 4 site to check it out.
I think that I’ve missed out on Channel 4’s “1001 Things You Should Know” because it’s in that 3:30pm slot, before I’m home from work. Well, that’s my excuse anyway. Now, being as it’s in this time slot, I could already guess a couple of things about it – that this would be a relatively small budget quiz for the most part for non-quizzers. I hasten to add that there is nothing wrong with this genre at all, either – just think of Pointless , for the sake of argument.
The game , which lasts a lean and mean 24 minutes when the ad break is taken out of it, is hosted by Sandi Toksvig. Good safe pair of hands, guaranteed not to put too many people’s backs up ( albeit that she did use the C word on the News Quiz once ) and to provide the odd chuckle. The mechanics of the show are really simple. Three contestants play against each other for three rounds. At the start of round one the board reveals a number of different categories of questions, which will be the only categories we get for this show. Once a category has been used it disappears from the board. Each player chooses a different category each round. A (supposedly) famous face from Channel 4 pops up on the screen , and asks the first question. This first question is always one of the ‘1001 Things You should Know’ – hence the title of the show. You get nothing for getting it right, apart from the right to have a go at a supplementary cash question. If you get this first question wrong, then it goes across to whoever buzzes in first out of the other two players. If the player who buzzes in gets it right, then that player gets a go at the cash question. Again, if the cash question is answered incorrectly, then it’s open to whoever buzzes in first. Correct answers to cash questions earn increasing amounts of cash.
In the final , fourth round, there are three categories left on the board. The amount of money earned by all 3 contestants goes into the prize pot. That’s for a bit later. Now the contestant who has banked the most money gets the chance to choose a category first, and the one with the second greatest amount of cash chooses from the remaining two. The third contestant gets whatever is left. The one with the least money is asked two questions on his category – a qualifying question, and another. If he or she gets either wrong, then he or she is out of the game. If they’re both correctly answered, then that contestant is eligible to play for the jackpot. This is then repeated with the other two contestants. In the event that more than one is eligible, the player who banked most cash in the first three rounds is the winner, and plays for the jackpot. As for the jackpot – same again, two question. Get them both right, and the money’s yours. Even if you don’t, you’re the champ, and so you come back next week.
There’s several aspects to this show which make it seem like rather an old fashioned quiz show, of the sort I grew up watching in the 70s. That’s not necessarily a weakness, either, I hasten to add. For one thing there’s the rather leisurely pace. It averages out at about 1 question per minute of the show. That’s about what you’d expect for this particular genre of quiz. Three contestants just answering questions for cash is a little reminiscent of Sale of The Century, and I have to say I like the fact that this is not overloaded with gimmick. Really it’s just about getting the questions right, and being essentially a traditionalist that’s something I approve of. Yes, there are things I could criticize. The FAQ (Faffing Around Quotient) at the start of the show is high. In the one I watched and timed it was 4 minutes and 25 seconds before the first question was actually asked – that’s a FAQ of approximately 18%, which compares unfavourably with many shows of the genre. I don’t say it’s a criticism of the show that the questions are so very easy , because I should say that it’s possibly appropriate for the audience it’s being aimed at. But let’s put it this way , a halfway decent pub quizzer could really clean up on this show. As I say, it’s not a criticism because the show isn’t setting itself up to be a great test of General Knowledge, but it is an observation. Ah, it probably shows that I'm getting old when I sigh and say that I remember the days when Channel 4 were confident enough to offer the audience a properly challenging daytime quiz in the shape of the ever-to-be-missed Fifteen to One. Well, putting that aside, then, maybe I’m not the best person to judge, but I didn’t think that any of the cash questions were noticeably harder than the 1001 things You Should Know Questions, but then having said that evidence was that these questions proved rather more difficult to a couple of the contestants in the show that I watched.
Overall I find it rather reassuring that an essentially rather old fashioned, straight and undemanding quiz show like this can still find its way onto the daytime schedules in this day and age. Will it run and run, though ? The coin is in the air.