Monday, 10 May 2010

A Question of Tweaks

Last year the BBC had two new successes in the teatime quiz slot – a runaway success in the form of Pointless, and a qualified success in the form of A Question of Genius. Pointless completed its second run a couple of weeks ago. So tonight A Question of Genius returned.

As with Pointless there have been a couple of tweaks. Most notably, in this series we start with 6 contestants, who are whittled down round by round, with one contestant being dropped in each until we are left with the final three, of whom one goes on to face the question of genius. It’s a welcome change from last year, as it simplifies the game somewhat.

The first round is an almost straightforward buzzer round with a twist. Called A Question of Speed it works thus. Our Host Kirsty Wark asks a starter question , and the first to buzz answers for a point. Then if they answer correctly, they may choose how difficult the next question is, for an increasing number of points. 5 points earns a place in round 2, and the Devil take the hindmost. For a while tonight it looked as if this might well be familiar face Melanie Beaumont, who has appeared in Are You An Egghead and Only Connect. She managed to take the last place in round two though, and seemed to be getting into her stride as she did so.

Round Two is called A Question of Judgement. The gameplay was similar to the first round, only this time the target was 6 points, and a correct starter gave each contestant the right to nominate not only the level of difficulty, but also the opponent who would also get the chance to answer it. Some of these questions, even for just 2 points weren’t all that easy I have to say. Melanie this time was the second to make it through to the next round.

Round Three is entitled A Question of Knowledge. To be honest you’d struggle to do well in any of the rounds without much General Knowledge, but there we are. So the 4 remaining contestants battled it out by answering a starter, to be given three questions of ascending difficulty as a follow up. Get them all right and you’re automatically through. More likely, it’s a matter of building up your score through a few goes to reach the target of 7. For the second round in a row Melanie was second to get through.

Round Four was the last round to sort out who would face their question of Genius. The three contestants were given ninety seconds each to answer a series of questions. After each question category was announced they could nominate the difficulty. Any wrong answers or passes would allow an opponent to buzz in for a steal. However a wrong answer from the opposition would freeze them out for the rest of the 90 seconds. Sounds complicated ? It isn’t really. In this case I think TV experience, and quiz experience told, with Melanie edging out the opposition.

This entitled her to face one question on her specialist subject to win £1000. This is really cutting to the chase, since in the final round last year the prize money was determined by how many of 5 final questions the contestant answered. There's none of that faffing around now, its straight on to the final question. Melanie had nominated the Little House on The Prairie books of Laura Ingalls Wilder as her subject. The question was : -
In the Little Town on the Prairie, Laura is knocked out of the community spelling match when she spells which word incorrectly ?
Melanie thought for a bit, obediently let Kirsty into her thought processes, turned down the chance of being given four options for a 50% reduction in the prize money - and then provided the correct answer – Xanthophyll ( and I sincerely hope that I’VE spelled it correctly ).Very well done !

I liked the show last year, and I have to say that I liked it again. It’s a bit leaner and meaner than last year,moves along at a decent pace, and the questions were wide enough ranging to satisfy most levels of quizzer. For example I was mentally patting myself on the back for identifying Elephant Island as the correct answer to a question about Ernest Shackleton. Good show.


Des Elmes said...

These tweaks do appear to be for the better - there certainly wasn't much point in the accumulator round for determining the value of the Question of Genius.

The host not changing won't have got many viewers enthusiastic, though. Kirsty's not the worst host in the world, but her approach doesn't necessarily make her the best host either.

Londinius said...

Hello Des - nice to hear from you !
s regards Kirsty, well I did think last year that she seemed to be enjoying herself a bit too much, but we'll see how she goes. I have to say that personally I have something of a soft spot for her.


Des Elmes said...

Why, thanks, Dave - I've been tied up with other commitments, especially work, in the last few weeks.

This may not necessarily be related to QoG, but Kirsty's more illustrious Newsnight colleague turned 60 today.

Happy birthday Jeremy!