Fifteen-To-One (Channel 4, 2013-present)
I suppose it was something that would happen eventually, that Fifteen-To-One would one day return to the screen. About a decade after it had originally ended, Fifteen-To-One was brought back for a one-off special in prime-time. As it went down rather well, the decision was made to bring back a daytime version, however TV has changed a lot since the original run ended in 2003.
Firstly, there was the challenge of finding a new host. It was decided that Sandi Toksvig would be the new host, someone who already had about 30 years worth of experience in TV presenting when the revival launched. I don’t mind Sandi’s presenting style and having her as the host is as good as anyone else really, it was always going to be tough following the great William G Stewart whoever was chosen.
Among the other notable things is the set design. Every contestant now stands at an individual podium with three green lights on it, and they wear name badges. It also seems that Sandi’s questions are sent to her though what I will always be inclined to describe as an “ERIC”, gimmicky in the 90s maybe, but a necessity now as I suppose this means that one of several hundred or maybe even thousand questions can be instantly accessed to be asked, and somewhat inevitably, there is also background music all the way through. Sandi will also reveal facts about the contestants, and then reveal the category by saying something like “are you any good at history?”, and then also adding an additional fact after the answer has been given.
The most obvious change is that the show is now an hour long, which is the length of most game shows nowadays. Also, as the influence of newer shows such as The Weakest Link seemed to have an effect on the later years of the original, it does seem that some changes in the revival owe a lot to Pointless, one of the most successful game shows of the last five or six years.
The format of the first round is the same as usual, when contestants get a question right a green light shines on them along with a “ding” noise, but if they get it wrong, one of their lights turns red. Get both wrong, and they are eliminated, with Sandi saying to them what is probably the most obvious try at a new catchphrase for this revival, “it’s lights out”. However, like on Pointless if they don’t make the final at the first attempt they can try again, and people can appear up to three times.
In part two, after a plug for the website, the contestants can now nominate one another. There seems to be a rule that contestants can nominate the same person twice in a row, and the nominator can also choose the person the was asked the previous question. I’m fairly sure that this wasn’t in the rules in the original version. Also, something else that happens a lot is the curiously modest and somewhat British response that when Sandi asks contestants if they are enjoying being in control and nominating they almost always say “no, not really”.
Another feature is that the nominated contestant’s podium lights up when they are in play. When there are four contestants remaining Sandi gives a quick update of the situation and often says something like “three of you will be making it to the final… one of you will not”, which is thankfully as close as she comes in her presenting style to Anne Robinson. When it’s 12 down and there are three contestants remaining, they go through to the final after the break.
The final is again similar to the original version, and again there are exchanges at the start such as Sandi asking a contestant if they thought they’d make the final to which they always say “no, never”. In the on the buzzer stage of the game, I have noticed that logic questions seem to be asked such as “what is 75% of 48?” before when the question or nominate stage begins it reverts back to regular general knowledge questions.
But there can only be one winner, and they receive a small trophy, again like what happens to winners on Pointless. Most finals aren’t that exciting however, lots of contestants have been knocked out with really low scores, most games end with about 20 questions still remaining, and there have been very few scores over 200, when in most series every score to make the final would have to be over 200, although this is partly because series in the revival have been much shorter, with the first being only 20 shows.
There is a lot to play for in the series grand final though. Although there no longer seems to be a top of the leader board prize, the overall series winner receives the star prize of £40,000, one of the biggest prizes currently available on a UK game show which is definitely worth playing for. There also seems to be a rule change for the final were a question answered incorrectly on the buzzer will go on offer to the two other contestants.
Although this version of Fifteen-To-One was arguably never going to make as big an impact as the original, Channel 4 seem to be fairly happy with it as the eighth series of the revival is about to begin, and it has also outlived Deal Or No Deal which is something of a surprise. I’m not sure how much longer it’ll run for but it’s been good to have it back on the afternoon screen.