Tipping Point (ITV, 2012-present)
Do you remember those old penny pushers at the fair arcades where you would drop some copper coins in and hope that lots would be pushed off the shelf? Well it seems that someone did and decided to take the idea to the extreme and turn it into a successful hour-long daytime weekday game show hosted by Ben Shephard who has become a familiar face on ITV in recent years.
Every day four contestants took part in four rounds to earn coins. They do this by answering general knowledge questions, with the format being different for each round. In the first round each contestant is given three coins. A question is asked and they have to buzz in, and if they get it right they can put a coin in the machine and choose which dropzone they want (wasn’t that a computer game in the 80s?), but if they get it wrong it goes into the penalty pot.
Once the coin goes into the machine in a similar style to the Plinko game on The Price Is Right, they will then hope that some coins will be pushed out and do some damage because for every one that drops off they win £50. The most coins won in one drop is 23. After everyone has had their turn if there are any coins in the penalty pot one more question is asked to win them. At the end of the round the lowest scoring contestant leaves with nothing which I feel is a little harsh but it seems to be the way that game shows are nowadays.
In the second round the three remaining contestants have to answer as many questions as they can in 30 seconds, with one coin earned for each correct answer. Again, the lowest-scoring contestant is eliminated at the end of the round. In round three when there are two contestants remaining, six questions are asked alternately with a coin on offer for each one. After seeing the question they can choose to play or pass, so they must think carefully. The highest-scoring contestant then has a chance to play for the star prize.
In the final, a larger gold coin drops into the machine, if they can push it back out they win £10,000. They are given six categories and then choose if they want to play for a question worth one, two or three coins. They are also given three options so even if they don’t know they can take a guess. In this round they can win up to 18 coins. If they still don’t get the prize coin out they can take the money they made, or try an all-or-nothing gamble where they put three more coins in the machine.
Tipping Point started out quietly but it has now go on to become one of my favourite game shows to have started in the last few years, and it’s one of the few shows on ITV nowadays that I can watch without wanting to chuck things at the screen. I do find the idea of the machine interesting and the results can be very unpredictable, with no coins or a dozen dropping all at once. It’s also vaguely hypnotic watching the machine move endlessly back and forward and it’s always great when there’s a close finish which results in a prize winner, partly because Ben seems to get more excited than the contestant does which I always like seeing happen in game shows.
As the series progressed a few changes were made, a mystery coin was added which if it dropped won the contestant a bonus prize which they took away even if they were eliminated early, and more recently a double coin was added where if that dropped it doubled the score won. There have also been celebrity specials where they play for double the money and some merchandise has been released including a mobile phone version of the game and a board game.