Rylan Clark-Neal


STV Productions for ITV, 1 to 26 May 2017 (20 episodes in 1 series)


"Game show presented by Rylan Clark-Neal that tempts contestants to push their luck when they open a set of giant Babushka dolls, with thousands of pounds at stake", said the ITV press office.

Across the hour, the players are required to open eight of the ten dolls. Two are empty; open one of these and the team lose any money they've banked.

The team can stop opening a particular doll, and bank the money on display. Or they can push the button again, and hope to see more money. If they press their luck too far and the doll is empty, the team lose any money they've banked.

Hope they banked before £1000.

One of the dolls contains £10,000, another £5000, and there are two each with £2000, £1000, and £500. Each doll is fully opened, so the team know exactly what is in the remaining dolls at all times.

Before opening a doll, the team must answer a true-false question correctly. Get this wrong, and the team lose any money they've banked.

Three assists are available. "Switch" changes one true-false question for another. "Peek" allows players to open a doll by one level, and if they find the doll is empty, then it doesn't count. "X-ray" is only available if a team has £5000 or more after four dolls. This will fully open one of the last three dolls, evaluate how much is inside it, and decide whether to play it or leave it for another.

Ten identical sealed dolls.

By chance, or by getting the question wrong, at least one game each week will end with the players picking an empty doll and busting.

Should the team have money after the eighth doll, Rylan offers a final choice: take the money, or open one final babushka. One is empty, and will win them nothing. One is packed with money, doubling their prize. It's an optional gamble, and rarely gets taken.

From an artistic viewpoint, Babushka is a success. The set and graphics look excellent, coloured lights on a dark background, and dolls that physically snap open. Dobs Vye's music sets the mood, using Russian folk tunes with contemporary ornamentation. Rylan Clark-Neal hosts in his natural style.

Rylan gives a Hard Stare.

The problem with Babushka is that it's not The Chase. It's very different from the regular 5pm show, and perhaps might have been a less jarring replacement for Tipping Point. Negative preview pieces in the press set a bad mood, and we fear it coloured the public reaction.

Key moments

Whenever the players took the final gamble, they "open" a virtual doll on the screen to see whether they'd won and open the real ones as a prove out.


Created and developed by Armoza Formats and TF1 Productions

Title music

Dobs Vye is credited for "Music"


Yes, yes, we know the dolls are "matryoshka" dolls, and a "babushka" is a grandmother. We use the terms from the programme. Please don't write in.

The dolls are referred to by name - Angelina, Anastasia, Katya, Natalya, Nushka, Olya, Sonya, Svetlana, Tatiana and Viktoriya.

Graphics by Potion Pictures. Dolls constructed by Specialist Models and Stephen Webster.

Voted the Worst New Show in this site's Poll of 2017

Web links

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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