There is a certain alchemy to the creation of a hit quizshow. Since the foundational premise is always the same – punters lining up to answer questions for the chance to win money – producers have to come up with increasingly elaborate ways of engaging audiences. There is Danny Dyer’s monolithic and eternally confusing The Wall, Ben Shephard’s giant penny-slot machine on Tipping Point and Michael McIntyre’s spinning The Wheel.
Yet, these gimmicks do not guarantee a hit. Take, for instance, the prop-free Pointless – a show so witheringly dry that watching it can feel like crunching through a mouthful of crackers – and yet it remains one of the BBC’s quizshow staples, now in its 24th season. The key to Pointless’s success lies not in its contestants, nor even in its seemingly simple premise of guessing the least guessable answer. The key to Pointless’s popularity lies in the interplay of its hosts, Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman. The former is the RP-speaking straight-man to Osman’s witty factchecker. Viewers stay glued for their chatter; it is a reliable, comforting and consistent presence on the weekday schedules.
Over the course of this year’s continual meander through lockdowns, though, another quizshow has taken its place as the ultimate daytime TV contender. Enter The Chase.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 25/11/20]