19 Keys



Richard Bacon


Objective for C5, 2003


A fairly simple but also quite enjoyable general knowledge quiz with an exciting time=money gimmick.

For no clear reason, contestants stood in the corners of a glass cube with a panel of 19 numbers in front of them. Each number represented one of the nineteen keys laid out in formation on a box in the middle of the cube. Every time they got a question correct, one or more of the numbers on their panel would disappear, eventually leaving just one number alight - the number of the key which opens the box. Wrong answers were punished by having keys relit, which would be the first ones to disappear should another correct answer be given.

For the first fifteen minutes the money for opening the box would rise at a rate of £500 a minute. After the money reaches its peak, it would then spend the next three minutes draining away to zero. At any point contestants can hit their big red button, pick a key and try and open the box. If they're correct, they win whatever money was in the pot. Wrong and they must leave the cube. This is a fairly neat game mechanic, clever players who have eliminated all their keys early can wait for more money but risk other players going for it and lucking out - and on one or two occasions people have won from an 18-1 shot - meanwhile when the cash is draining do you wait longer and make sure you have the right key or cut your nose off to spite your face and risk leaving with nothing?

The rounds are typical quiz fare, and the time limit could possibly be a bit shorter if it wasn't for Bacon explaining the rules whilst the clocks are ticking. Round one lasts for two minutes and is a first on the buzzer affair for one key a question. Round two is played up until the clock hits 5:30 with questions on the buzzer for a key and whoever getting it right getting a bonus question they can answer themselves or throw to someone else they don't think will get it right in the hope that they will lose a key. Round three is the individual time trial, each person gets 30 seconds and gets to choose before the question whether it be worth one, two or three keys (with relative difficulty of questions). The final round is first on the buzzers wins a key but then gets to select the difficulty of the following question as a bonus which everyone can buzz in for. Then it's back to a one-key question again.

Richard Bacon is quite a fun host to watch even if he is not particularly competent technically. We do wonder if having it ten minutes up and two minutes down and letting him introduce the rounds with the clock stopped might have neatened the show up a little bit.

But no matter, because we don't think it's coming back.




Paul Farrer


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