In the Grid


Les Dennis


Initial for Five, 2006-


Les Dennis lets people get rich and do each other over by picking squares on a grid which may help or hinder them. It's Steal for 2006!

The two contestants stand facing a grid (in fact, The Grid) of sixteen squares. Both are given £1000 to start with. They then take it in turns to pick a square on The Grid – squares are referred to by coordinates rather than being simply numbered in a clever attempt to distance them from the boxes on Deal or No Deal – and reveal its contents. There are five types of square: gold squares contain money which is added to the player's total, green squares boost their total by a particular precentage, red squares reduce their total similarly, blue squares excitingly allow the player to steal a percentage of their opponent's money, while the single black square bankrupts the player. To inject a modicum of strategy into proceedings, both players have two 'Reveals' which they can use at any time to find out what colour a square of their choosing is (though not its value). Once fifteen of the sixteen squares have been played, the player with the most money wins and goes though to the exciting big-money end game.

Except it's not exciting. The moderately-large-money end game consists of a new grid of twenty-five squares (The MegaGrid or the UltraGrid or something), twenty of which are gold, and five of which are bankrupts. The winning contestant is told how much their prize money will rise to (following no given formula) if they correctly pick a gold square, then they decide whether they want to risk having a go, for if they pick a bankrupt the game ends instantly and they win nothing. The audience are liable to shout "Gamble!" at this point; presumably just for something to do. This can be done a maximum of five times, though the first pick is obligatory, which rather pointlessly means the amount the player wins in the first round is the one amount they can't possibly leave with.

Les Dennis is of course an entirely competent host, having spent years presenting one of the most popular game show formats ever. This show, it is safe to say, will not become one of the most popular game show formats ever. (Heck, even if it were good it wouldn't because it's on five so nobody would watch it even if it was terrific.) The main game is alright and can almost reach 'exciting' if the outcome could tip based on the last couple of squares, and maybe each player knows what's in one of them, but it's highly dull to begin with, and suffers by comparison to Noel's offering earlier in the day, which is so good it inspired pedestrian attempts to cash in on its popularity like this one. The sheer banality of the final's mechanism renders absent any tension induced by the high(ish) stakes. Also, for some reason the winner comes back the next day anyway so even if they lose the money they'll get to have another go.

Now try to guess whether there's a premium rate phone-in competition attached to this show. And whether it's identical to Deal or No Deal's.


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