We love a quiz show here in Britain. Whether it’s through our unending thirst for knowledge, our competitive desperation to out-know everyone else or just to pass an hour at bedtime (my marriage has never been more on fire than when the Mrs and I are tackling a trivia challenge or an arrow-word under the duvet), the thrill of answering general knowledge questions correctly gives us a little bit of a buzz.
The best place to compete in quizzes for the vast majority of the UK’s population is from the non judgemental comfort of our own living room armchairs. We pour scorn on the contestants on the various quiz shows who don’t know that the chemical symbol for Potassium isn’t as easy as it seems, who can’t tell the Kardashian sisters apart or worse, go for a lower offer on The Chase. Of course, we could do better every single time; ‘where do they get these people?’ we ask ourselves incredulously as we sip on our Ovaltine and tut at John Smith missing out on a perfectly easy Pointless answer.
Of course, for the contestants themselves, as highlighted in our interview with The Chase contestant Charlie Gardner, it’s a lot more tricky than it looks. But for us viewers, quiz shows are a thrilling mix of education, entertainment and competition that are a staple of our television schedules. With so many popular formats on our screen, our friends at Quiz Britain, a popular site which draws together everything remotely quizzing related, are running a poll to find out what our favourite quiz show of all time is. I spoke to Ian Woolley, the ‘Mastermind’ (see what I did there?) behind Quiz Britain, to find out more…
“My take is that if a lot of old shows from the past were brought back today, they would be just as popular as the current ones,” he explained. “As Quiz Britain promotes quizzing across the UK, we decided we had the means to settle the argument.”
Ian tells me that already, before the rest of the media are even involved, that the poll has received a passionate response, with the number of voters already in 4 figures. It’s a debate that could well throw up some unlikely results too…
“The leaders include some very popular current quizzing shows but with a surprise leader from the past!” Ian hints. “And some shows are not performing as well as I would have predicted, but it is still early days.”
The poll is running until mid December, so get yourselves along and cast your vote via this link: https://t.co/LqA7hg51oc
In the meantime, I thought I’d take a closer look at some of the nominees below. What’s your favourite?
A fiendishly hard game where contestants need a wide range of general knowledge at their disposal from literature and architecture to video gaming and The Simpsons. The tricky questions go a step further than just your standard Q and A too, as this knowledge needs applied to find often extremely obscure links between seemingly unrelated clues. Presented by the witty Victoria Coren, the show is unashamedly difficult and yet strangely addictive. Getting one of the questions right on this show provides a feeling of satisfaction like no other; even if it is a rare occurrence.
ALSO: See here for our Interview with Only Connect question setter Jack Waley-Cohen
The daddy of David versus Goliath battles, this ITV show pitches a team of strangers of all quizzing abilities against one of the country’s (and world’s) top quizzers in a team battle for cash. Headed up by the entertaining Bradley Walsh, the show mixes tension with humour to create a seriously unbeatable quiz show formula. Almost more popular than the actual show itself are the four chasers; the pantomime villains with brains pumping with knowledge. It doesn’t matter whether the contestant comes up against the feisty ‘Governess’ Anne Hegery, the confident titan that is ‘The Beast’ Mark Labbett, the Mastermind Champion and suave legal eagle that is ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Shaun Wallace or the witty but ruthless ‘Sinnerman’ Paul Sinha, the contestants always have a battle on their hands and the endgame is one of television’s most tense 2 minutes of all time.
ALSO: See here for our review on what makes The Chase so good.
See here for our Exclusive Interview with Anne Hegerty
See here for our Exclusive Interview with Mark Labbett
See here for our Interview with contestant Charlie Gardner
There is surely no one in the country now that hasn’t come across this joyful teatime hit but to summarise Pointless, contestants need to score as few points as possible to stand a chance at grabbing the cash prize and, most lucratively of all, the glass cuboid of pride that is the Pointless trophy. Headed up by a double act that could rival the warmth of Ant and Dec, which is Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, the show introduced the thoroughly enjoyable concept of finding the most obscure and often unusual solutions to seemingly regular questions. Never has it been so satisfying to know the least popular character in Harry Potter or the footballer that faded into nothingness in five minutes.
The Weakest Link
Long before Simon Cowell started crushing dreams on cruel platforms such as Pop Idol and The X Factor, Botox fan Anne Robinson was popularising the format of being downright vicious to regular people and humiliating them on television. It says a lot about the human nature, but it is an incredibly popular concept among us viewers; we seem to love nothing more than seeing someone who thinks they’ve ‘got it’ being brought back down to earth with a bump. Nobody does nastiness quite like Anne Robinson, in comparison the Beast comes over as a fawning pussycat. The show contained an array of usually quite easy general knowledge questions which was welcomed by the casual tea time viewer as those that failed under pressure were mercilessly ridiculed and exiled from the studio. It was a mean show, but shamefully entertaining all the same.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Arguably one of television’s most popular quizzes of all time, Millionaire upped the ante a bit by offering up serious money as a jackpot. It was as straightforward as quizzes come; answer 15 multiple choice questions correctly and win a million pounds; it attracted an array of applicants who thought that this was simply too good to be true. However, while the idea sounds simple; when so much as at stake, the pressure mounts and the show became really quite difficult, with only a handful of players securing the top prize (including Egghead Judith Keppell, the show’s first ever winner). For viewers it was a frustrating watch; with each question dragged out to an unbearable level as we watched contestants dither between their options. It soon became clear that it would be all over the news as soon as the episode was filmed that someone had won the jackpot, so for those just tuning in for the glory moments, it became easy to pick and choose which days to watch.
If you have ever attended a pub quiz, you will know that there is always that one insufferable team of know it alls who wins the warm beer vouchers every single time. Television’s equivalent of those people are the Eggheads team, a group of acclaimed quizzers who routinely destroy hopeful quiz teams effortlessly. Comprised of a collection of egos with different strengths and weaknesses, the Eggheads are cool under pressure, but are most certainly not unbeatable. Watching a team overcome them is a satisfying watch and the display of general knowledge both from the contestants and the Eggheads is always impressive.
ALSO: See here for our Exclusive interview with the newest Egghead Lisa Thiel
What is your favourite quiz show? As well as voting in Quiz Britain’s poll, let us know using the comments box below. Meanwhile, if you fancy any further chat on quiz shows or television in general, you can find my Twitter Feed here; make sure you Only Connect to it; it’ll be far from Pointless: https://twitter.com/Our_manPLA Honestly, the golden banter like that just keeps on flowin’.
Written By Our Man In The North