Lose A Million (ITV, 1993)
Here’s a look at another one-series wonder game show that turned out to be something of a flop but I do remember watching it.
Lose A Million had an art-deco cruise ship set design and was hosted by Chris Tarrant. I have enjoyed his shows over the years so I decided to give this one a look, and it turned out to be rather bizarre. Chris began by describing the show as “live on tape in front of an audience that’s clearly wandered in after chucking out time at the Salvation Army soup kitchen”. Well that’s not a way to get people on your side, Chris. And take your hands out of your pockets too.
The idea was that three contestants are given five glitzy prizes equal to a million pounds and they had to get rid of them as quickly as they could by giving silly wrong answers to questions. So losing meant winning, defeat meant triumph, and the more hopeless you were, the more likely you were to win.
Chris would then start the game by being vaguely rude to the contestants too and wanting them to play the first round. Let’s linger no longer! Chris would ask them questions against the clock and they had to get them as wrong as possible. Their silly answers were very amusing.
Whoever got the most wrong then had the chance to give away one of their five prizes. They had to pick carefully though because although one was very valuable, one was worth nothing. In the second round they had to give correct answers but in the wrong order, which was made more difficult by Chris putting them off, again whoever scored the most could get rid of a prize.
In part two, by now Chris thought the studio audience were “500 social misfits with the dress sense of Timmy Mallett and the conversational skills of Sooty”. That’s harsh. In the final round, contestants were given a question with two options, get it wrong and they could give away a prize, get it right and they’d have a prized passed on to them.
Whoever had done the worst and became the biggest loser when time was up went through to the final. There was a question with six answers, five were right, one was wrong. Pick the five right answers and they would win £5,000 which I think was the biggest cash prize available on British TV at the time.
Lose A Million was made by Action Time Productions who were making a lot of quirky game shows around this time, but despite the unusual idea and Chris’s charisma, the show disappeared from screens very quickly. The only legacy the show has is its inexplicable appearance in the film Shallow Grave.
Although this wasn’t a success, of course, five years later, Chris Tarrant would host another game show with exactly the opposite idea of this one, to answer questions and actually win a million, it did slightly better.