Timeline (Challenge, 2014)
Challenge is a TV channel that launched in the mid-90s. It shows a lot of classic game shows, but it has also featured some original shows, including a revival of Blockbusters that attracted some publicity. In 2011 Challenge came to Freeview so I was pleased that I could finally some of their shows for myself. When I saw that they were launching another original show I thought that I would give it a try.
Timeline was a prime-time game show that was hosted by Brian Conley who has hosted various shows that I’ve watched over the years (including a lot of comedy), what would this show have on offer, could Challenge produce anything that would rival what appears on the likes of BBC1 or ITV? Three teams of two take part, and the top prize on offer is £5,000.
The basic idea of Timeline was that the teams had to put various things into the correct order of time (or other things like price). There are three categories on offer. One is picked to reveal five options and five dates. There are 60 seconds on the clock, and the teams have to put the options in the right order on the timeline. They do this by putting their finger on the option and dragging it to where they think it goes, the use of touchscreen technology to play the game was essentially the show’s gimmick.
Once they were satisfied with their answers, they had to press a big button on the screen to stop the clock. One point is scored for every correct answer, and getting a high score could come in useful for the team that makes the final. This was then done again, but this time there were 45 seconds on the clock, and team with the lowest score after the two rounds was eliminated.
In the next round, the two remaining teams are given a choice of three years. They are then given six options. Three happened when stated on the timeline, three didn’t. They have 30 seconds to deselect the three options that they don’t think happened when stated. This time there are two points for every correct answer, with again the lowest scorers leaving, and the remaining team making the final.
In this, the team were given 15 seconds, plus five seconds for every point that they scored. There are six spaces on the timeline, and there are five options. Each option is played one by one and is on a different category. If they place the option on the right place, they win £500. This means that they can win up to £2,500, and then they can decide if they want to take the gamble.
This is where they play one more timeline with 45 seconds on the clock. This time they can have as many goes as they like to get the timeline in the right order, a number onscreen indicates how many they have got right in a similar style to the final on Wipeout. Run out of time, and they lose their money. If they do get the correct order in time though, they double the money that they have won and everyone is really pleased.
I didn’t really have that much of a problem with the actual format of Timeline, but a few other things did frustrate me. Firstly, the show is in an hour-long slot but only comes to about 42 minutes, that’s a lot of adverts (and trails for Sky channels unavailable on Freeview), and most breaks weren’t inbetween the rounds! Also, the show was much hyped by Challenge and it was frequently trailed, but when the series ended after ten editions, it didn’t return.
This didn’t bother me that much as I just presumed that this might give Challenge a chance to try out another original show, but they haven’t made any more since. In recent years Challenge’s schedule has become rather stale, and they now just seem to show The Chase, Pointless and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire endlessly. I know that these are popular shows, but it is very disappointing seeing another channel not willing to try something new or take a risk.