Game Show Memories – The Link.

The Link (BBC1, 2014-2015)

This is yet another daytime game show from a few years ago now that didn’t really cause a sensation, but kept me interested enough to be a regular viewer. The Link (not to be confused with a mobile phone shop from the 90s) was based on the format of a board game. Contestants were challenged to make the link between various things, and some viewers felt that this came across as a sort-of simpler daytime version of Only Connect, which is known for its very tough clues.

The choice of host was a little unusual. Mark Williams (not to be confused with the Welsh snooker player) was better known as an actor, being one of the cast members of comedy The Fast Show, along with appearing in the Harry Potter films. He often hosted wearing a big coat, and some viewers thought that this made him look like a caretaker who had just gone for his lunch. I’ve no idea why I remember people saying that. He did have plenty of wit though.

Two teams of three took part. They are asked a question on the buzzer to gain control. They are then given the first of a possible four clues, which all have a link. There are also six money amounts with varying numbers of strings. So the earlier they give a correct answer, the more strings they can cut from the amounts. And the higher the amount, the more strings there are. If they can cut all of the strings on the amount, they get that money.

This round ends up taking up rather a large part of the show. There also is a lot of pretending that there is a lot of tactical play in use here, but there isn’t really. The amounts on offer are always the same, so there are only so many score combinations that can be achieved. The lowest-scoring team is eliminated. In round two, the money that they have so far is attached to seven strings. The four clues are now in the “who am I?” or “what am I?” style and play alternates between the teams, choosing how many strings they want to play for.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00003-2.jpg

Again, the quicker you get the correct answer, the more strings you can cut. The first team to get their money goes into the final. There is £2,000 added to what they have already won, and this becomes the jackpot. There are 60 seconds on the clock. There are clues revealed one by one, with a maximum of ten. They have to buzz in to stop the clock and guess their answer. After Mark says “is the link…?” for about the 50th time, they discover if they have gone up the six steps of the money ladder.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00004-2.jpg

If they run out of time though, they get no money at all, as seems to happen on so many game shows now, so they have to stop at the right time. And unfortunately the difficulty level means that achieving the jackpot is almost impossible. It just goes to show that you can lose what you thought you had earned rather quickly. A few teams did manage to win a four-figure sum though. There were two series of The Link, and there was also a brief repeat run on Challenge.