In The Grid (Five, 2006-2007)
In the mid-2000s Channel 4’s Deal Or No Deal had become a popular and successful show (no really, it did), so it was likely that other channels would want to make similar shows with contestants choosing random numbers to try and win money. Channel 5 launched an attempt at something similar which was In The Grid. It was even made by the same production company in the studio next door to Deal Or No Deal. It was hosted by Les Dennis, who after 15 years of service on Family Fortunes seemingly wanted to host a show which had more competitive gameplay.
The show begins with nine contestants, one of which is picked at random to play the reigning champion. They are then given £1,000 each to start with and then the 4×4 grid appears on the screen with 16 grid references which concealed the various options. There were six different ways in which contestants could win (or lose) money so let’s explain them.
The gold symbols had a cash amount which would bring more money into the game, often around £1,000. The green symbols increased the contestant’s cash amount by a percentage, up to a possible 100%. The purple symbol meant that a contestant could steal a percentage of their opponent’s money. The red symbol would decrease a contestant’s cash amount by a percentage. And the black symbol bankrupted the contestant losing them all their money. There would only ever be one of these bankrupts in every game, and that could really turn the game on its head. All this had to be accompanied by the now seemingly compulsory immensely irritating tension background music.
How many of these symbols appeared on the grid varied from day to day. At the start Les would reveal how many of each symbol were on the grid, and then they would all disappear and be rearranged at random. Also when a symbol appeared, it initially wouldn’t have its cash amount or percentage displayed, so Les could tease the situation by saying things like “if this says 50% or more, you’re through to the final.” Contestants could also preview what two of the squares concealed to determine if they wanted to play them. The contestants picked their choices and the one with the most money when time was up went into the final.
The Megagrid was a chance for contestants to win lots of money. This time there was a 5×5 grid featuring usually 22 or 23 gold squares and a few bankrupts. The idea is that they have to pick a square, and if it’s a gold one they increase their money and have the chance of another go. The first move is compulsory, but after that they can gamble whether they want to try again, knowing that the odds of them hitting a bankrupt will be higher and it would cost them everything that they’ve won in that show, but if they land on another gold their money will increase again.
Also around this point Les would start saying Noel Edmonds-esque things like “let’s all have really positive vibes” to the studio audience and he’d always shout “yes!” if the contestant found a gold square, and I always like it when the host gets more excited about things than the contestant. The contestant can have up to five goes, but they can stop at any time, and they can then come back the next day as the reigning champion, and can appear on up to five shows before retiring.
In The Grid did begin to grow on me and by the end of its run I was a regular viewer. I felt that the show had the potential to be a long-running success in the teatime slot for Channel 5, just like 100% and the like had been for them in the early days, and it even could have become as popular as Deal Or No Deal, but after the first series ended it never returned, and ended up lasting for only 70 editions, and is just about forgotten now which is a shame because this show did have potential, but you feel that the era of these type of game shows has passed now.