Sunday, 7 November 2010

Where Have All The Quiz Shows Gone ?

Yes, or should I say, where have all the new quiz shows disappeared to ? Here we are, only just a few weeks away from the end of the year, and in all honesty there has been only one new TV quiz show this year which I can think of. More about that one later .

Take last year for instance. Nominees for the best new quiz show of the year 2009 were, if I recall correctly, “A Question of Genius “ , “Divided”, “The Chase”, “The Fuse”, “Guesstimation”, “Knowitalls” and “Pointless”. Not nominated, yet still flaring briefly into life on Sky was “Sell Me The Answer”. Even if we say that 2009 was perhaps an exceptional year for the quantity of new quiz shows, if we look back to 2008 we can see that “Perfect Recall” , “Battle of the Brains”, “Sports Mastermind”, “Are You An Egghead” and, yes, “Only Connect” all began that year.

So, what on Earth has gone wrong ? I’m not sure. Partly I’d guess its because some of those that have come along in the past couple of years have been successful. “Pointless” has certainly cemented its place in the hearts of its audience, and there’s no reason why it might not in time become a perennial BBC favourite like “The Weakest Link “ and “Eggheads”. It may well be that the BBC feel the same about “A Question of Genius”. As regards “Only Connect”, BBC4 have got the best team quiz on television which is open to any members of the public. In 2 years and 4 series it has established itself as one of the big 4 most prestigious quizzes there is, right up there with “Mastermind”, “Brain of Britain”, and “University Challenge”. As for ITV, they have persisted with “Divided”, and “The Chase” is, I believe, currently auditioning contestants for a third series, so they seem pretty well on their way to being established in the ITV teatime slot.

I only mentioned all this in the first place since last night was the first time that I caught a part of the new quiz I mentioned earlier. Namely, Channel 4’s Million Pound Drop live. I watched a couple of these when the first series went out earlier last year. Which explains why I haven’t watched any of this series yet. I’m really sorry if you’re a fan of the show, and by all means feel free to disagree with me, but I really dislike this show. If you want me to go into detail : -I don’t like the presenter , Davina McCall- or Shouty McGurney as she is far-from-affectionately called in my house. I think the pace is positively funereal. I watched the show for about 20 minute last night, and in that time I think three questions were asked. Unless it is a quiz- such as University Challenge – which is meant for a particular group of people, then I don’t think that its right to limit the contestants to a very limited age range. OK, I haven’t watched the show much, but I’m not the first to point out that it seems like the contestants are all drawn from the 18 – 30 demographic. From what I’ve seen, as well, it would be nice to see fewer ‘pure guessing ‘ questions too.

Not that I think for one minute that this show has been designed to appeal to people like me anyway. But it is a shame that this seems to be pretty much all that we can manage for the genre this year. Dare I say it, this raises the spectre of the LAMMY Award for the Best New Quiz Show not being awarded this year . Oh, the shame of it.


Another Anne said...

Well, Perfection would have debuted in place of the current series of Pointless, if only they hadn't messed up the filming and had to re-shoot most of it.

Also, The Chase and The Fuse were always intended to compete for the same slot - only one was going to make it.

Another Anne said...

Oh, and they have enough Eggheads, so that's why there's no more Are You An Egghead?

davidbod said...

Interesting point. We keep a list of the new game show formats here:

and indeed, apart from MPD, Antiques Master is the only new quiz format of the year. Nearly all the others are lifestyle and action/adventure formats.

That's not to say that we're not going through a good period for quizzes, even if nearly all of the are bunched up on a Monday.

Londinius said...

Hi Anne and David

Yes, I wasn't complaining about new shows not continuing as such Anne, merely that we haven't seen amny new shows this year. While we're on the subject , though, it seems a shame to me that Divided was fireproof, since, for all its faults I thought that the Fuse was better. Of course the Chase is much better than both of them IMHO. AYAEH by its very nature - ie the increasing number of Eggheads - was always going to have a finite shelf life, but its a shame because it was a damn good show to watch and great fun to play in.

David, thanks so much for reminding me about Antiques Master ! It wouldn't get a nomination in a vintage year, but this is far from that !


Des Elmes said...

Battle of the Brains certainly wasn't the worst show in the world - but, in all fairness and without any disrespect, it wasn't a show that many people readily warmed to.

It didn't help that its endgame could turn into an anticlimax, while some considered the Captain's Question to be out of place. Plus the second series had a noticeably lower standard of play.

Not too many fell in love with Guesstimation or Sell Me The Answer either - although that's probably because these shows had just that little bit too much silliness in them.

worldwidemark said...

I heard that there's another AYAEH series coming in the next few weeks - then once they've reached 8 that's it... No more! (and just as I was about to embark on a glittering quizzing career!)

Another Anne said...

Mark, I'd be absolutely astounded if that were the case and I hadn't heard about it. It would be impossible to keep that sort of thing secret in the incestuous world of quizzing.

Londinius said...

I'm very tempted to ask where you heard this , Mark, since I haven't heard a dickie bird about this myself.


Ben Dutton said...

I was thinking about this the other day, walking to Tesco. It seems to me that this year, instead of developing new quizzes, what we've seen is development and refinement of existing quiz shows:

Millionaire introduced a new lifeline and the time limit.

Pointless changed its format a little.

A Question of Genius also altered its format a little.

The Chase added the formidable Anne Hegerty.

Struggling now to think of others off the top of my head... Only Connect changed to Egyptian Heiroglyphs...

But perhaps this year's LAMMY could be awarded to best rejuvinated quiz show or something...

bj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bj said...

And of course there were the changes to the Mastermind timings. Two minutes of GK is now two and a half in the heats.
I hadn't heard anything about a new series of AYAE and as Anne says it is a small world. Not only that but it is not a particularly secretive world and word would surely come out from those who were up for it. It is difficult enough not finding out things, when you don't want to know results etc etc.

Londinius said...

Hi Ben and BJ

Ben, the LAMMY award committee have taken your idea into consideration, and like it very much. At the moment we've narrowed the title for award down to two - the Life In The Old Girl Yet Award - or - The Old Dog New Tricks Award.


worldwidemark said...

Hmm sorry but I can't find a link now - maybe I imagined it?

I read about 4 or 5 weeks ago that when Pointless finishes Are you an Egghead will return for a 3rd a final series where they will find the 8th Egghead - they won't be looking for any more after that.

But you're right im sure David and Anne would have heard of this - and i can't find a link anywhere...

The clue that confirmed it was Jeremy Vine returning to host Eggheads - the previous 2 times he's done this have coincided with a series of AYAEH

Licking his wounds over this one and an amazing faux-pas at the QLL last night :(