Experts: Mary-Ann Ochota, David Wilson & Jenni Trent-Hughes
BBC North West for BBC Two, 27 August 2007 to 1 January 2008 (30 episodes in 1 series)
Ill-judged remake of the semi-hit guessing game from the U S of A. One player is challenged to match 12 identities with 12 stangers. Some of the identities are obvious from the looks and physique, others can be guessed using sight clues and observation, and the rest need a sixth sense.
In a departure from the original format, where it was a Millionairesque get-it-right-or-lose-everything, this works more on the basis of For the Rest of Your Life where correct answers take you up the ladder and wrong answers bring you down.
After making their guess, we wait an interminable about of time (let us guess: the strangers have been told to count to ten, slowly) before the chosen stranger makes a quip about whether they guessed right or not. Family and friends are on hand to help, and the contestant can also get a little bit of information from three strangers near the start of the game.
And guess what, nine years after Millionaire, we're still using lifelines. In this show they are Tri-dentity (pick from one of three possible people), Mistaken Identity (allowed to make one mistake) and Ask the Experts (see what the psychological profilers think). After 12 guesses, the game ends and the player goes home with wherever they're at on the ladder.
Even if you can forgive the derivative nature of the format, many things irritate about the technical execution of the BBC's version: the completely unnecessary "final answer"-type catchphrase and pressing the big button to lock in the identity - a US legal Standards and Practices failsafe which could have been dumped in this version; the podia numbers don't extinguish once they're guessed; the Millionaire lights that bleed onto the podia; the pointless Deal or No Deal question mark; the poorly-rendered jerky title sequence; the computer graphics that jump when they go around the loop; over-dramatic music; and not much excitement at the end (e.g. a decision between winning £2000 or £4000 won't have the Banker worried).
Donny Osmond's hosting is well-natured but out of depth on a game show that sometimes relies on UK culture, like knowing who Sven-Göran Eriksson is.
Overall, the tone is just too much for an afternoon show offering only £10,000.
Based on the US format by Tim Puntillo.
"Stranger number #... (job) ... is, that, your, ideniddy [sic]?"
"Seal that identity"
Signoff: "Don't be a stranger!"
Strangers have included Unanimous winner Sian Howells, in the role of "University pin-up girl", Adam Hoskins from The Apprentice, Diane Youdale from Gladiators (now a psychotherapist), Ted Robbins, and Sally Kettle from Deal or No Deal.
Clip of the first show