Saturday, 31 July 2010

I'm not saying that this is necessarily a good thing -

- but the school holidays do give you the opportunity of watching television at 2pm on a weekday if you so choose. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am fully aware that there are many more fulfilling activities you can choose from than watching TV at such a time, but there are just a few shows for which I have to make an exception. 15 to 1 in particular.

I was idly flicking through the channels on Wednesday afternoon, and I came across the reruns of one of the series shown in 2003, I think, on Challenge TV. I only intended to watch it for a couple of minutes. Two consecutive shows later I arose from the Clark sofa, fully satisfied with a great hour’s viewing.

I know that I’m preaching to the converted here. I know that most people who love quizzes, especially TV quizzes, are fully aware of what a good show 15 to 1 was. But it really hammered it home to me that it wasn’t just good, it was a fantastic, a marvellous, wonderful, stupendous quiz show. The format so simple, and yet clever enough to develop more than enough intrigue to keep anyone going. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I love the way it kept up relentlessly with question after question after question, show after show. But I also found myself engrossed in the way that tactical thinking played a part in the show. On one of them last week I was fascinated to watch one very good lady quizzer cause carnage picking off other contenders one by one, then dropping a life when she was one of only 4 players left. The other three to a man – and they were all men – all picked mercilessly on her then to knock her out and progress to the final themselves. Compelling stuff to watch as the drama unfolded.

Then in the final round between the last three in each of the shows I watched last week there was always a compelling subtext. I asked myself each time - would contenders concentrate on knocking out the others, or would they take question after question to build a high enough score to get onto the leaders board for the Grand Final ? On one show I watched last week it was like a glorified game of pass the parcel, with both of the last two players continually nominating each other. When finally one was left, and he could at last start to really try to build a score, he got the first question wrong and that was that.

If the great William G. Stewart was ever going to revive the show, I kind of think he would have decided to do it before now, and so I don’t hold out any hope that it will ever happen. But I have to say that watching this handful of shows during this last week has made me even certain that of all the shows I regret never going on, 15 to 1 is at the top of the list, even above University Challenge. After all, how many quiz shows would you gladly sit through an hour of old reruns for ? I rest my case, m’lud.

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