I thought that Eggheads were like Jedis - above taking revenge. Just goes to show how much I know.
They do say that what goes around comes around. Once upon a time a production company called Twelve yard came up with an idea for a quiz show. Some have said that the idea for eggheads was at least inspired by an idea that Trevor Montague – he of the mighty “A to Z of Almost everything” – had, whereby he put together a dream team including such other luminaries as David Edwards and Daphne Fowler, to clean up in a range of quizzes in London and the South East. Whether there’s any truth in that or not, “Eggheads” was born, the first ‘pro-am’ TV quiz. Over a few years “Eggheads” built up a very devoted audience, and so, in the fullness of time, the good people of the commercial TV world took note, and lo, “The Chase” was born. Over a short period of time, “The Chase” too built up a very loyal and devoted audience. I believe that the good people at Twelve Yard have taken note.
Now, I am not trying to suggest that “Revenge of the Egghead” is a slavish imitation of “The Chase” – it isn’t – and maybe Twelve Yard would even say that it has never been envisaged as a competitor of the ITV pro-am quiz. Fair enough. However I feel that their new offering is more similar to “The Chase” than to the original “Eggheads”, and I’ll try to explain why.
We start with, on one hand, five contestants, not exactly a team, but not working against each other either, and on the other hand, the chaser - sorry, I'll read that again - Egghead, CJ, whose job it is to prevent them. The first part of the show is the cashbuilder- oops - I mean the first round where the five contestants answer questions to build up a prize pot to take through to the final, if they get there. OK – I’ll stop making cracks about The Chase. "Revenge - " bears similarities to The Chase, but it's not the same. Basically this is how it works. Each contestant has two lives. In turn they each get asked a question. If they get it right, then £200 is added to the prize fund, and the next person gets a question. Now, once they give an answer, if CJ thinks they have got it wrong he can buzz in. If they are wrong, and he has buzzed in, then CJ gets to answer. If he gets it right, then the contestant has to go to the hotspot. CJ asks the contestant a multiple choice question he has written himself. If they get it right, then they keep their life. If they get it wrong, then they lose a life. Once they have lost both lives, they’re out of the game. The game goes on until the klaxon goes off – normally with maybe ten minutes of the show left. Whoever are still in the game get to play for the money.
Now, CJ is asked ten questions by the question master, whom we shall call Jeremy Vine from Eggheads, for it is he. If CJ gets 10 of them right, then 10 is the target. If CJ gets 7, as he did last night, then that’s the target. The contestants still in the game then get asked questions – and this is the crucial thing – they can keep answering questions until all their lives are gone. So let us say that all five contestants got through with 2 lives, then they could afford to get 9 questions wrong. If they reach the target that CJ has set with as much as one life intact, then they win the prize pot they have built up. Time will tell, but I tend to think that this gives the contestants a fairer crack of the whip than the final chase on The Chase does.
So, what’s my verdict? Well, if you’re a regular, you’ll know what I like and what I don’t like in a quiz. To be fair this show seemed to move faster than Eggheads does, and gets through more questions. Not enough for my liking, mind you, but then neither does the first two thirds of The Chase either. The FAQ (Faffing About Quotient) was less than I expected as well, which is all to the good. Anyway, I don’t think I’m its target audience. Of its type my first impression is that it’s a pretty good show, and I certainly do think that this will have appeal to fans of Eggheads and The Chase. CJ’s always had the marmite factor, and I’m sure those who mainly watched Eggheads because they loved him, and those who only watched it because they loathed him, will find much to satisfy them in this show. Of course, there’s no saying whether the public will go for it, or whether they will decide it’s too like one thing, or not enough like another, or simply that it’s not for them. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if this one gets its own following.