Friday, 11 April 2014

My Favourite TV Quiz Show

Back in the day, Fifteen to One presented by William G. Stewart became a sad little hobby of mine. The knowledge aspect was one thing and watching or participating in any quiz show should enhance one's knowledge but this show was a little more than that to me.

It contained a happy balance of humanity and statistics, which is how I generally like to roll. The winners (and occasionally unlucky losers) were invited back to have another go in the next series and the multiple winners became personalities in the Fifteen to One bubble and a fair few can be spotted in other TV and radio quizzes.

Each series comprised of around 60 or 70 episodes and the fifteen best scores advanced to a series finale (the Grand Final) and overall, the standard improved through the years and the finals board scores reflect this. There were 35 standard series' transmitted over fifteen years (usually two series a year) and roughly in the first half of these, a score of around 150 was enough to make the Grand Final. After about Series 20, it became more the norm that a score of 200 was required and even then, there were a couple of occasions where such a score was not quite enough.

The unpredictability of who would make the Grand Final, which previous winners (including previous Grand Final participants, finals board winners and series champions) and what scores made the cut were what drove much of the fascination of the show.

William G. Stewart's affable schoolmaster-style and the different contestant personalities were the other major likeable aspects of the format.

Above you will find some statistical information relating to the show - please contact me if any corrections are required. If anyone is as sad as me, then enjoy!

I shall also be tracking and recording the newly revived show (began broadcasting 5th April 2014) winner information. It is of course too early to declare the success of this revival but early signs are mixed:
  • I think Sandi Toksvig is a good choice for presenter; she is likeable and will become sharper and more confident as time goes on (we shall see how long it lasts but I assume a second revival series must at least be on the cards).
  • The rules are pretty much the same which is a good thing - in the second round, you can now immediately nominate the person who nominated you which wasn't allowed since around Series 20 but bringing that rule back is quite fun and creates a slight edge.
  • Now each contestant has three attempts to make the final round, which I can understand is there to promote a familiarity with the contestants but overall, it does lower the standard.
  • Due to this rule and it only being a twenty episode run, the chances are that scores of below 100 will advance to the Grand Final.
  • The overall pacing and standard of questions needs to be addressed and more consistent. Unless it is the end of the round, we don't need breathers to assess who has whatever amount of lives remaining - such pauses break up the TV drama and one of the great aspects of the old show was the consistent beat of the questions. Understandably, Mr Stewart had this down to a tee. Whilst under the previous format, there was always the odd easier question, some of the current questions are probably too easy and then the odd one is very difficult, which isn't really a fair barometer of who is the best and worst on the show, as much is down to the luck of the questions. Yes, what questions each contestant receives will always be based on a large amount of luck but a more consistent standard of questioning would be much fairer.