The Machine (ITV1, 2002-2004)
This game show is rather strange and could also easily qualify for the “Obscure TV Memories”, but I do remember this late night show.
The Machine was a show where every week seven contestants would sit in a chair and would be tested on various general knowledge questions to discover who knew the most. The Machine in question appeared to be a rather scary-looking floating computer-generated head thing.
The contestants were introduced with a brief biography and then had 150 seconds to answer questions while some computer-generated effects floated around them. They would be given four options and they had ten seconds to press the corresponding button. If they got it right they scored points, but if they got it wrong points were deducted. The quicker you answered the more points you would get.
This was made more difficult though because between questions The Machine would put the contestants off by doing a bad Anne Robinson impression and saying random things like “I’m waiting” or best of all “use… your… brain”. They would often stall as well by saying things like “you scored seven points” and their voice was so heavily treated with effects it was difficult to determine what they were saying half the time. Also, the text on the questions was rather small and the chair looked somewhat uncomfortable.
When time was up The Machine would assess the contestant’s performances, and they were rather harsh to contestants who managed to get minus scores. Although they were rather harsh to al of them really. At the end of the episode, the highest scoring contestant went on to the leaderboard, with the seven highest scorers returning for the final.
In the final, it was more of the same really, and whoever held their nerve and got the biggest score received the star prize of a holiday to a destination of their choice. That is the correct response.
The Machine was definitely an interesting idea at trying something different. This show probably wouldn’t get on TV today because there are no available slots for new shows in Night Time whatsoever any more which is probably a bad thing. I’m sure it all made a lot more sense if you watched it at 1am.