24 Hour Quiz (ITV1, 2004)
This has got to be one of the more bizarre game shows of its era. I suppose looking back now, the kindest thing you could say about this one is that it was an interesting idea that didn’t really work. This was around the time that Big Brother was popular, so someone clearly thought, why not take that idea, and add a game show element to it, with people sat in a room together all day, but answering general knowledge questions. How could it fail?
24 Hour Quiz was hosted by Shaun Williamson, who was previously best-known for playing Barry Evans in EastEnders. I remember that he was killed off after a few years, his demise in that show being reported by one newspaper as “fatso pushed off cliff”. What a way to go. As he now couldn’t fall back on that option, where would he go next in his career? He had sung in a few stage musicals, so why not give TV hosting a go too.
Three contestants took part, who faced multiple-choice questions for most of the day. They weren’t too difficult, and there was only £1 for a correct answer, with a few questions being worth more, but this soon adds up. Being away from their chair because they were in the bath, eating, asleep, or anything else like that, meant that they would be missing out. I remember at least one contestant running from the bath with a big towel on their head to carry on playing.
All of this would take up several hours on ITV1 and ITV2. The main show consisted of trying to find someone who could replace a contestant currently in the house. Viewers could phone or text in if they wanted to play, and some were picked from whoever turned up at the studio. They would then be eliminated with multiple-choice questions. However, because this was shown live, the rules for this process seemed to constantly change, and this could end up being rather sloppy.
There was also a late-night catch-up, which was hosted by Matt Brown. He would talk to the contestants about how they were doing, if they weren’t still in a question answering trance. It was also released that watching this could be rather dull, so sometimes they were provided with fancy dress, along with some alcohol. There were also text messages going along the screen from viewers of the usual “I hope fred wins he is sexy” type. Matt would often end the show by just walking off and leaving them to it.
Carry this on until they won lots of money or went spare, whatever happened first. 24 Hour Quiz was dropped by ITV1 before the end of its planned run (although a lot of other shows around this time were too). I’m sure that there was also an inevitable celebrity special. After this, Shaun went on to sitcom Extras, where he was often still called “Barry”. He has proven himself to be a much better game show contestant than host, doing well on Pointless, and he also won a six-figure sum for charity on Beat The Chasers, the biggest win on that show so far.