1) Come and Have A Go If You think You're Smart Enough
This show aired first in 2004. 4 teams in the studio competed to find the most correct answers to the same set of General Knowledge questions. The teams would gradually be reduced to 3, 2 and then 1. Teams would play interactively at home, and the studio team would then be pitted against the champions at home, who would then take one of the 4 places in the studio the following week. Only the winners would pick up a prize of £30,000. The show was presented by Nicky Campbell. In 2005 the show came back with Julian Clary as presenter. The interactive element had been ditched, and only 3 teams competed in each show. The show did not come back for another series after this.
The show first aired in 2003. Each episode a team of five challengers plays against the team of Eggheads, or star quiz players, to be fairer. Until 2008 the five Eggheads took part in each show. They are Kevin Ashman , Daphne Fowler, Chris Hughes, CJ de Mooi and Judith Keppel. In 2008 they were joined by Barry Simmons, and in 2009 by Pat Gibson. Now five out of the 7 Eggheads play in each show. The show comprises of 4 head to head matches, where a challenger and an egghead face 3 multiple choice questions on a random subject. Whoever answers more questions correctly goes through to the final round, and the other player is eliminated. If there is a tie, then the sudden death rule come into play. Each player is asked another question, this time without answer options. when one player fails to answer correctly, and his opponent answers correctly, then the round is over. In the final round the two players who have not yet played, and the winners of the previous rounds join forces to answer general knowledge questions. If the challengers win, they take the prize pot. If they fail, then another £1000 is added to the prize fund for the next show.
Mastermind first aired in 1972, and has been broadcast on television, or the radio,in some form, every year since.The first question master, from 1972 until 1997 was Magnus Magnusson. Peter Snow presented Mastermind on BBC Radio 4 in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Clive Anderson presented Discovery Mastermind on the cable and satellite Discovery Channel in 2001. In 2002 John Humphrys presented the first ever Celebrity Mastermind, and since 2003 he has presented the revived Mastermind.
The format has hardly changed at all since 1972. In each show contenders must sit in the black chair, and answer 2 minutes of questions on a specialist subject they have chosen. If they cannot provide an answer they must say pass. In the second round, each contender faces two minutes of General Knowledge questions. The player with the lowest score after the specialist round goes first in the second round, and the player with the highest score goes last. Heat winners go through to a semi final, where they must offer a new specialist subject. Winners of the semi finals go through to a Grand Final, and once again they have to offer a brand new specialist subject. The winner of the final receives the title "Mastermind of the United Kingdom" and an engraved Caithness Glass bowl. No other prizes are awarded to other contenders in each series.
4) Who Wants to Be A Millionaire ?
This show grew out of a radio quiz which formed part of Chris tarrant's radio show on Capital Radio in London. It wasn't the first TV show in the UK with a £1 million first prize, but it was the first to offer such a huge prize on a regular basis. It has been presented by Chris Tarrant since it began in 1998.
Ten contestants compete for the right to play the game. Host Chris Tarrant gives a list of four things, which have to be put in a specific order in the quickest tme possible. The person who manages this then joins Tarrant in the hotseat, and is offered up to 16 multiple choice questions for a rising amount of money, up to £1 million. There are stages which a player cannot fall beneath once he or she has reached them - in the first ten years these were £100, £1000 and £32000. A player has three lifelines to use if uncertain of the answer - Ask The Audience ( self explanatory ) - 50/50 ( two wrong options are removed ) and Phone A Friend ( self explanatory ). Once a player has given a wrong answer, then they drop down to either £100, £1000, or £32,000, although a player does have the option of not answering the question, and walking away with the money at any time.
5) Are You An Egghead ?
This is a companion show to the main Eggheads show, and it began in 2008. 32 players took part in a competition to find a new Egghead to join the orignal 5. The competition was played in the form of a knockout tournament. Rounds one, two, the quarter finals and the semi finals, were all played according to the same format. As in the Eggheads show, players play head to head in 4 randomly themed rounds of three questions each. Winners can choose an Egghead to help them in the final round. The final round consists of 5 general knowledge questions, then sudden death. Contestants can ask each of their Eggheads for help once. In the final, the last round is much longer, consisting of 10 questions. The only prize goes to the series winner, who becomes the newest member of the Eggheads.
6) Brain of Britain
Brain of Britain is a radio show that first began, as a segment in a programme called What Do You Know ? , as long ago as 1954. The quiz has been a programme in its own right sine 1968. 4 contestants compete in 7 rounds of General Knowledge questions. In each round, each contestant is given a series of up to 5 questions to answer. If they get one wrong or cannot answer then the other contestants can buzz in for a bonus, and the questions go on to the next contestant until all have had their go for that round. If a contestant gets five questions in a row right, then they are awarded a bonus point. Heat winners and 4 highest scoring runners up go through to the 4 semi finals, and the 4 winners of these compete in he grand final. The only prize is a silver salver for the winner.
7) Mastermind Champion of Champions
Mastermind Champion of Champions is a one - off spin-off series from Mastermind, and it follows the same rules as the Mastermind series. 16 champions, representing some of the years between 1973 and 2009, take part in a series of four shows, with the four winners competing in a final to find the Mastermind Champion of Champions. The shows have been recorded to coincide with the coverage of the Football World Cup.
There have been two previous tournaments of champions. The first, dubbed 'Supermind' pitted the first four champions against each other in 1975, and was won by the 1972 Champion, Nancy Wilkinson. Then in 1982 a tournament was held between the first 10 champions, with 2 heats, from which winner and runner up progressed to the final. This was won by the late Sir David Hunt, the 1977 champion.
8) Only Connect
Only Connect sells itself with the tagline that knowledge alone is not enough, and they are right. Teams play in 4 rounds. In round one they are given a series of clues, and they have to find the thing that connects all of the answers. If they do it in 4 clues, then they get one point, and more points for using less clues. Round two is similar, but sees the teams have to predict which thing will complete a sequence of four - again, the fewer clues needed, the more points are awarded.
Round three has become very much the trademark round of the show, a grid of 16 clues, which must be made into 4 sets of items. Ah, but some of them could belong in more than one set ! This round can be fiendish, and is worth tuning in for of itself. The final round sees each teams fighting it out on the buzzer to identify words and phrases from which the vowels have been taken.
9) Fifteen to One
Winning 15 to 1 conferred as much, if not more , prestige to a quizzer as winning Mastermind, Brain of Britain or University Challenge. In fact, nobody ever gained a full set of these titles. Kevin Ashman came closest. He never took part in University Challenge, but won 15 to 1, Mastermind and Brain of Britain. Like the other three shows, 15 to 1 had a brilliantly simple format. Fifteen quizzers answered questions in turn. Each quizzer had three lives. Wrong answers meant lives lost. Three wrong and you were out. After everyone had faced 2 questions, then a correct answer meant that you could nominate who should face the next question. When 12 players were out, then the final round would pit the remaining three against each other. Players would buzz in to answer, then be able to either nominate one of the others, or take a question themselves. The winner would be the last person left standing when the others lives were gone. Then the winner would continue answering until either questions or their lives ran out first. The fifteen players with the highest scores across the whole series would contest the grand final.
The original show lasted from 1987 to 2003, and it's to my shame that I never got off my backside to apply to appear before it ended. However Channel 4 did revive the show in 2014, fronted by Sandi Toksvig. The show was broadly the same, although players now had 3 shows in which to reach the final, and the shows lasted longer, with more chat. I appeared on the second series of 2014.
Yes, there are a number of shows, some still on, some sadly missed, which I have never appeared on, in most cases doubtless never will appear on, but would still dearly love to do so : -
As far as I know, up until 2011 Goldsmith's College, of the University of London, my alma mater, had never taken part in the televised part of University Challenge. Sadly they lost in the first round in 2011.
This is the longest running, and still I would say the most prestigious team quiz on television. 28 teams compete in what is largely a knockout tournament. Having said that, the four highest scoring losing teams from the first round play for the last two places in the second round. From then on only winners progress to the next stage of the competition.
Starter questions are asked which are open to either team. Teams may not confer over the answer. Anyone may buzz in at any time. If an incorrect answer is given before the question is complete, then the team is docked 5 points from their score. Correct answer to a starter earns 10 points, and three bonus questions which the team may confer on, worth five points each. The other team is out of the game until the next starter.
Its another brilliant format which has stood the test of time, with hardly any change since the very first game was broadcast in 1962 under the chairmanship of genial Bamber Gascoigne. I've been asked whether I would ever take a course at the Open University so that I might have a chance of getting on the show. I've always said no as I think that's not really cricket as they say. But I'd have loved to have an opportunity back in the day, as they say.
Ask the Family
I would have loved to have met the late Robert Robinson. There, I've said it. Hardly a crime. When I appeared in the 2009 series of Brain of Britain he was unwell, I'm very sorry to say, although by way of compensation we had the excellent and witty Russell Davies, possessor of possibly the best voice on the radio today.
I loved the original Ask the Family, which ran from 1967 right up until 1984. Families consisting of mother, father, and two children would face a variety of rounds consisting of general knowledge questions, puzzles and brainteasers, all under the cheerful chairmanship of witty, dry old Robert Robinson. The series was basically a knockout tournament, and by the end it faced a lot of criticism for featuring mainly middle class families, and was parodied unmercifully by the satirical show "Not The Nine O'Clock News". Mind you, so was "University Challenge".
My dad did one day announce his intention of applying for us to go on the show, but he never did. That's probably just as well. I don't recall them ever having rounds about Old Holborn tobacco and Autumn Gold Cider, so I can't help thinking that he would have struggled. Still, growing up as a swotty, nerdy kid myself in the 70s myself this show actually meant a lot to me, and I'd have loved to have had a go.
Bob's Full House
I bet that made you blink. What, you might ask, is Bob's Full House doing in a list which has been noticeably highbrow, intellectual, or at the very least, serious quizzerish ? Well, I'm simply being honest here. Back in 1986, I wanted a holiday and couldn't afford to pay for one. I watched the show every week, and even though my pub quiz career had not yet begun, I fancied my chances against the vast majority of contestants that they had on the show every week. I always liked dear old Bob too, who lets face it, had a mastery of the arts of hosting this kind of show that nobody else,except perhaps old Brucie has come close to approaching.
Game play was predictably enough based on the game of bingo. Players answered questions to win the numbers on their bingo cards. Prizes came for completing the four corners, then completing a line, and finally for completing the whole card, a player had the opportunity to play for the dream holiday.
So I sent for an application form, filled it in, and waited. Nothing ever happened, and the show ended in 1990. Shame.
The Weakest Link
If you'v ever read some of the harsh things I've said about this show in my quiz-related blog, "Life After Mastermind" you'll probably be wondering what the hell this is doing on the list. The truth of the matter is though, that it is a very popular and long running quiz show, and I would be lying if I said that a little part of me wouldn't actually have liked to go on it , just to add it to my quiz CV.
The main reason I've added it to the list is that I have actually applied to go on the show, way way back when its first series had just begun to air. I didn't hear anything back from them.
The Weakest Link has, in common with all of the very best quiz shows, an original yet simple format. 9 contestants begin the show. The idea is to answer general knowledge questions in turn. A correct answer increases the total money won for the round, but an incorrect answer loses all of it. A player can opt to bank all of the money won for the team, and start the chain from scratch. When and if the total reaches £1000, then the round is over, but more often than not time runs out. Then the contestants vote for the player they feel has made the least contribution so far - the weakest link. Whoever receives most votes is out.
When two players are left, then they answer 5 general knowledge questions against each other. If the scores are level, then they keep answering questions until one of them fails. The winner takes all of the money, the loser leaves with nothing.
Did I ever apply again ? I have come close to doing so once or twice. Then, in November 2011 I was contacted out of the blue by a member of the production team. They were putting together a number of specials for the last editions, and one was going to be a quiz champions special. Was I interested ? Too right ! Well, it wasn't quite as simple as that since they had a number of other people in mind, and they wanted to get the balance right for the show. They'd let me know iin a couple of days. The couple of days became a couple of weeks, and eventually they decided no, I'm afraid that I was surplus to requirements. OK, that's the way that the cookie crumbles in TV. Then a couple of days before it was due to be filmed in December, they range me up and said that they'd had one of the contestants drop out. Was I available ? Yes of course. But alas, they went with someone else. Well, there we are, just one of those things. No hard feelings, and probably just desserts for some of the less than complimentary things I've said about the show in the past.
Winner Takes All
Look, you have to understand where I'm coming from at this stage. I liked this show very much. Jimmy Tarbuck may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he was a pretty good host as I recall. The great appeal of this game was that it allowed winners to come back, and win up to £6000 in combined winnings, which was the highest that the authorites would allow to be won on British television until right up to the mid 1990s. Game play took the form of head to heads. Contestants were asked a series of multiple choice questions, and asked to bet between 5 and 50 points on the outcome. Each option had a certain amount of odds beside it, and so if you correctly bet 50 points at 10 -1, you won 500 points. The winner scored the most points. Simple. In the final game, two winning contestants would play, but with pounds instead of points. Champions could return until defeated, or until they reached the £6000 mark. The show ran from 1975 until 1988, with everyone's favourite schoolmaster - or that's how he seemed - Geoffrey Wheeler taking over in the later series from Tarby.
You have to understand the appeal. When I was 13 or 14, £6000 sounded to me like an absolute fortune. Come to think of it, I wouldn't turn my nose up at it now.