Face the Clock – Channel Four – 3:30 weekdays
Congratulations go to the makers of “Face the Clock”, the first new quiz I’ve seen in 2013. I know why I’ve been missing this one. 3:30pm is just too early for me to catch. Still, never mind, that is what the internet is for. Now, I can either review this as a straight quiz show, or I can review it as a game show. Well, I’ll probably be bringing in elements of both. It's daytime, it's a half hour slot, so it's not going to be big money, and it's not likely to be that difficult. Come on then, Dave, review it according to what it is, rather than what it's not.
This show, which comes in at a lean and mean 23 minutes or so once you take the adverts out, is fronted by Rory Bremner. Now, here’s a tricky thing. I met Rory at the 2011 telecommunications industry GetConnected Charity Quiz, where he was the special guest question master. We had a chat and I thought he came across as a really nice chap, very chatty, very interested in you, and a good guy. So I’d find it difficult to be horrible about him. Thankfully I don’t have to. The format didn’t give him much opportunity to display his wit, and even less his impressions, but he seemed to get the tone just about dead right I thought.
The gameplay of the show is relatively simple. The show starts with 6 contestants. One of them randomly selects an amount of time, which might be anything up to 2 and a half minutes. The contestants then answer questions for cash, or nominate someone else to take the question. If you’re ‘it’ when the time runs out, then you’re out, and your cash passes to the one who passed you the question. 4 contestants are discarded this way. If you’re thinking – like the Pass the Bomb game on Buzz – then you’re dead right. Except you earn money for correct answers, so it’s worth hanging onto your go for a bit.
So there’s a huge slice of luck in this first part of the show. It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you get a killer pass 2 seconds before time runs out, then you’re out. It changes, though, in the round of two. Both of you get 60 seconds on the clock. The one with the lowest amount of money starts. Questions are asked, and the clock ticks down. When the contestant gets one right, then the clock stops, and the other contestant’s starts. Then when they get one right . . . well, I’m sure that I don’t have to labour the point for you. Now, on this game, it’s fairly simple – best quizzer wins.
Moving onto the final, whatever money the two last contestants have earned becomes the prize fund for the finalist. He or she will get one minute on the clock. They have to answer 5 questions correctly in the time. If they do it in 30 seconds or less, then they get the full amount. Then the money is halved, and it goes down for every ten seconds after that the contestant takes. So again, the people who are going to do best in the final are good quizzers.
Accepting that this is a game as much as it’s a quiz, it’s not a bad show at all. The FAQ (Faffing About Quotient) is fairly low – the duration of the show is so relatively short that they just have to get on with it. That’s a good point. Game play is simple and straightforward, and there aren’t really any unnecessary gimmicks. The game is not without tactics either. OK, the mechanics of the show mean that the best quizzer is not necessarily more likely to make it through to the last two than any other player. OK, the questions are, well, they’re Weakest Link easy, if you know what I mean. But then, it’s that kind of show, it’s not a search to find the best quizzer in the UK. It is what it is, and a relatively undemanding quiz game, which moves quickly, gives you quite a lot of questions for your money, and is certainly watchable is exactly what it is.