Pointless (BBC2, 2009-2011, BBC1, 2011-present)
The daytime weekday general knowledge game show where the more you know, the lower it will go. Pointless is hosted by Alexander Armstrong, who when the show launched was better known for being in a comedy double-act alongside Ben Miller. He is assisted in the statistics area by Richard Osman, who had worked in TV behind the scenes for many years including writing and producing some comedy shows before being thrust into the limelight here and they work very well together.
Pointless is notable for constantly adjusting its rounds to keep the show fresh, but the basic idea has remained the same since the show began. In the first series, five teams of two took part, later reduced to four. A question would be shown on which 100 people had been surveyed and had to give as many correct answers as they could such as “European Capitals” or “Madonna UK Top Ten Singles” and then the teams would take it in turns to answer. There have also been various other rounds including question clues and picture clues.
The idea was that the answer that the contestants gave would score one point for everyone in the survey who said it. How low will it go? So if they pick an answer that is correct that nobody thought of it is a “pointless” answer and a bonus £250 is added to the jackpot. However, if they give a wrong answer they score 100 points, and you don’t want to do that, but it does happen when the occasional absurd answer is given. When the show started the selling point was that the team with the highest score gets knocked out at the end of the round, although they can came back on the next show for another go.
This carries on until there is one team remaining, who both win an almost coveted Pointless trophy whatever happens, but to win the jackpot they now need to find a pointless answer. They pick from a choice of categories and then the question is revealed. They have one minute to confer because they need to provide three answers. If just one of them is pointless they win, and a few teams have won a lot of money. If they lose though, the money rolls over to the next show with an extra £1,000 added.
Pointless is definitely one of my favourite game shows in more recent years. It is a good idea that it is well done and there’s always a chance that some really obscure trivia and interesting facts will be discussed between the hosts, such as what exactly a country is, and Armstrong and Osman have become something of a double-act themselves.
When I reviewed similar show Topranko! yesterday, I still have a article from the time that said if it was given a chance it could become popular with viewers in a teatime slot similar to Blockbusters. It didn’t happen though, but it definitely has for Pointless, which has settled into the 5:15 slot very successfully, and the ratings are still on the up six years after the show began.
There has been some merchandise released including a board game and some very entertaining books, there have also been endless celebrity specials because so many people want to appear on the show. The format of Pointless has also been sold abroad so the show is beginning to become a success around the world too. If they don’t run out of questions I imagine that it could still do very well for another year or two.