Sudo-Q (BBC1, 2005, BBC2, 2006-2007)
Having recently looked back at the career of Eamonn Holmes in my Game Show Stars series, I realised that this was one of his shows that I hadn’t reviewed, so just when you thought I’d done them all, here comes another one. Sudu-Q was a daytime game that combined the sudoku puzzle with general knowledge questions. This was around the time when this was still a rather new idea, and suddenly there was a craze for them.
But this wasn’t a case of just jumping on the bandwagon, this was a format were the two were combined to work well. I must admit that I although I know how they work, I have never really been able to solve these puzzles, and I am in awe of people who can. Eamonn does explain how a puzzle works though, and there is plenty of opportunity for viewers to play along at home. Three teams of three took part (later changed to three teams of two).
In round one, there is a 4×4 grid, already featuring some numbers. A square is highlighted, and teams have to put the correct number in there as quickly as they can (cue overdone tense music). If they are correct, they are then asked a question for a bonus. This carries on until there are no more spaces left to fill. Round two is almost the same, but this time beaten team members can be eliminated. Once a team loses both members, they are out of the game (cue post-match interview).
Round three is rather different, as there are no questions, and only one team member plays (although there is the option to buy back the eliminated teammate, but this has a time penalty). There is now a 6×6 grid, and they have 45 seconds each. They take it in turns to guess the highlighted number on the grid. The tried-and-trusted “chess clock” rule is in use here, so play continues until one team runs out of time. The remaining team plays on by themselves as a chance to boost their score, as the highest-scoring team makes the final.
If a one-player team has made the final, all their eliminated teammate can do is watch on “live by satellite”. This round is three minutes (1:30 each for a two-player team, or all the time for a single player). Half the grid is already completed. Again, giving correct answers gives them the opportunity to fill in the highlighted number. There is £50 for every correct number, with bonuses on offer for completed rows and columns, and a total of £2,000 for a completed grid.
Winning teams can come back the next day to play again, and they can appear up to five times before retiring undefeated, meaning that a maximum of £10,000 can be won by them, although I don’t think that any team achieved that. Add into all of this an awkward catchphrase from Eamonn (“be there, and be square!”), and a tie-in book featuring lots of puzzles, and you complete what is a decent all-round package.