Tiger Aspect Productions and Mast Media for ITV, 14 July to 24 December 2001 (8 episodes in 1 series + 1 special)
Oblivious Popstars (one-off special), 4 March 2003
Someone randomly comes up to you in the street and asks you a rather inane general knowledge question (as opposed to "have you got any spare change?"). You are filmed. Get it right: win cash! Get it wrong: don't! Except, the twist is, you're being filmed and you don't know that you're actually playing. Hotel Getaway Returns then, except this is even more tedious.
Right, that's it. Can I go home now?
I've got to pad it out?
Erm... Alright then, let's start with the set. It looks a bit like Friends Like These, amphitheatre style, quite bland pebbledash-light effect background on the stage, Millionaire-style lights 'add' to the 'fun'. The theme tune is 60's spy theme with a load of white noise put on top for no real reason. And it's hosted by the lovely Davina McCall, who doesn't have to try too hard to outshine the format.
Basic idea: Davina picks out seemingly random person from the audience. It turns out, h-h-h-hilariously, they were filmed a couple of weeks back talking to a crazy made-up/annoying character (the shows catchphrase is "it pays to suffer fools gladly") who just happened to fit six general knowledge questions into their conversation. Our MOTP comes up on stage and we see the conversation play out with the six incredibly easy questions. For every question the MOTP correctly answered, they win £500. Wooh! After the tape has finished, Davina offers them a double-or-nothing gamble on a 'memory bank' question, a question about the character (who, in all fairness, are well acted - the MOTPs don't suspect anything). If they choose not to gamble then occasionally they'll be asked the question anyway just to see what could have happened.
But wait! There are two more variations on this marvellous, marvellous theme we've yet to touch upon. The first is Oblivious Live, a game played in the studio linked up to somewhere else. Basically, relation in the studio watches MOTP play the game live, with MOTP oblivious to the fact that there are cameras there watching them. After the wacky character has asked their questions, the relation in the studio rings the MOTP on a mobile and asks another question out of the blue. If MOTP gets it correct, they win an extra £1000 and then the cover gets blown and Davina says hello and all the cameras come out, in a 'hilarious' moment worthy of, ohh, Would I Lie to You?.
The final bit is 24 Hours, where a MOTP was followed round for (guess) 24 hours. This time it's a bit different though. In fact, it's worse, and we reckon so much more could have been made from it. Our stooge is forced into several surrealesque situations over the course of a day. In the studio, stooge and relation stand at separate podiums. Play a bit of tape, stop tape, relation is asked 'what did our stooge do'? Given a choice of three answers with a correct one earning the stooge £500. Been there, done that, would have worn the T-Shirt if it was any good. Repeat several times. The last question is a bit different though because earlier that day the relation had been set up - ahhh! If the stooge guesses correctly then the relation wins the same amount of cash that the stooge won.
Thankfully the show ends here, because we all fell asleep 30 minutes before the end.
If you're going to do a hidden camera show, that's fine, but it needs to have a much, much better gimmick than simply 'answer some easy questions' or 'what did he do next'. Why not encourage two different people to play God-Chess over our unwitting contestants with our stooge as a very important pawn? Why not get the audience to vote as to which reaction to an event will get the most cash?
It's a potentially good idea let down by being done very badly and in a boring seen-it-before way. Sorry.
They tried to breathe new life into the format two years later with this one-off effort featuring Neil Fox, Dave Hill and Michael "Abs" Absalom asking general knowledge questions of pop stars under the guise of interviews. The celebs featured were The Sugababes, Girls Aloud, Dane "Whatever happened to him?" Bowers, Darlington's one celebrity Hayley Evetts, and - lord help us - Noel Gallagher. We presume it was done for charity money.
Mark Baker and Steve Havers
The show won a Silver Rose at the 2002 Rose D'or Festival.