Series 1: Oakley Turvey
Series 2: Dan Cade
Endemol for CITV, 6 January 2003 to 29 April 2004 (26 episodes in 2 series)
Eliminator is one of CITV's best shows in recent years and for good reasons. The idea is simple, a team of 3 children need to get from the start to the finish of the course by answering questions. The course is set out with 4 spaces on level 1, 6 on level 2 and 8 on level 3. In a cool touch the shape of the spaces shows the number of spaces on that level (squares on level 1, hexagons on level 2 and octagons on level 3).
The 3 levels are supposedly linked by a lift taking them from stage to stage but this idea was quickly rumbled in early series' by a bird's eye view of the course. Level 1 is an London Underground tube (Series 1) or underground cave (Series 2) and is the only level with an actual lift to bring the players in. Level 2 is a ground level cityscape (series 1) or an underwater level (Series 2) and level 3 is on the rooftops of the city buldings (Series 1) or a bridge high up in the sky (complete with cloud effects on the screen) (series 2) During gameplay the computer chooses a category at random and the players choose either an easy question worth 1 move (only when desperate), a medium question worth 2 moves (most common) or a hard question worth 3 moves (suicidal). Each question has 4 possible answers and if they get it right then they get the moves. If they get it wrong then they don't go anywhere.
This is where the Eliminator comes into play. In a dark (and quite cool) costume he moves after the players at a set rate. On their first question he doesn't move to allow the players a head start but after that while the players are in level 1 he moves 1 space a turn. When the players answer a question in level 2 he starts moving 2 spaces a turn and if the players reach level 3 then he moves at a scarily fast 3 spaces a turn. Its the eliminator that makes this show so good. If he catches the players then their game is over and they leave with nothing. For a bad team this can be on level 1, for most teams this is level 2 and the best teams are taken out on level 3.
All the teams start out really confident outlining their strengths and weaknesses but few teams won't show signs of pressure and fear when the eliminator is right behind them. For once the questions suit their difficulty, everyone'll know the easy ones, you'll probably know the mediums but even most adults will have trouble with the hards. In my memory very few teams have made it to the end of the course but not because of elimination. Once they enter level 3 they are given the option of continuing with the game and going for the big prizes or leaving with a smaller prize. If the eliminator is right behind them then most teams will leave but the cocky ones go for the end of the course.
The end of the course is the prize path, the lamest part of the otherwise excellent set. While the clean-cut and slightly industrial set is good to look at the prize path is a garish room with lots of dangly bits all over the place. It leads us to think most teams get eliminated to avoid that part. For the prize path the teams are given a subject and must then name as many items associated with that subject. Every item gives them a better and better prize leading up to the 8th answer and the ultimate prize (usually a safari in Africa).
Trying to tie all this together is host Michael Underwood. An ever reliable host he does a great job of making the players feel comfortable reminding them of the important facts at the right times and getting involved in general chit-chat. The main problem is that he does seem like a Chris Tarrant wannabe here. Maybe it comes of presenting a show that is like a junior Who Wants to be a Millionaire? but there are only so many ways you can draw out a tense moment.
Like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? the show tries to get as many teams through the game as possible but naturally the show will finish when a team is mid way through a game. When this happens instead of an annoying noise we get a proper dramatic clap of thunder. Unlike Who Wants to be a Millionaire? this can happen mid question and even happens when a team has given their final answer to a question.
The game is easy to pick up though if you've missed a show thanks to the use of computer graphics to give a snapshot of the game showing the team's position in green and the eliminator's position in red. The same effect is given on the game board with red and white lights under every space which light up accordingly with whoever's on it, nice touch.
Clearly some considerable effort has gone into the show and that has paid handsomely with a show that's good fun to watch.
A source who worked on the first series told us: "The reason it was drawn out was they chucked up the timings in studio so the programmes came out light. We had to add lots of extra seconds in order to get the shows to length."
First few minutes of the very first episode