Red or Black?



Ant & Dec


Phillip Hurd-Wood (voiceover, 2012)


Syco and ITV Studios for ITV1, 3 September 2011 to 29 September 2012 (14 episodes in 2 series)


Ant & Dec host as one lucky contestant is given the chance to win £1 million on a 50/50 gamble.

By some unknown method, an initial field of one hundred thousand applicants is whittled down to 10,000 or so who are invited to Wembley Arena. During the course of the evening, a series of rounds are staged in the arena, each comprised of an event with a 50/50 outcome. Choose the wrong answer and you are eliminated, choose the right one and you progress to the next round. After a series of these 50/50 rounds has narrowed the field further, those who remain move onto the next stage, which sees proceedings move to a number of different locations around the UK. In each location, further 50/50 rounds are staged, which narrow the field yet further, to numbers that are manageable in the studio.

Once in the studio, and for the first time live on TV, eight contestants a night for seven nights are again systematically whittled down, until just one remains each night. Though earlier rounds change from night to night, the cut from two to one is always by "Duel", trying to expose four segments of red before showing four segments of black (or vice versa.)

This contestant is then presented with a tenth and final 50/50 gamble - choose red or black on the spin of a roulette wheel. If the wheel stops on their choice, they pocket £1 million, if if stops on the opposite choice, they leave with nothing.

Spin again?

After an unenthusiastic public reception, Red or Black was almost completely changed for its second series. Now, just eight contestants are in the game, and they're invited to predict which of "red" or "black" will complete a You Bet!-style stunt first. The players are able to make their predictions once the challenge starts, but only half of them can choose each colour.

The best four predictors come back for another round, and the two who get that right take part in Duel - no longer a random guess, but a test of remembering something the players saw for a fleeting moment.

The champion gets to play The Vortex, where they send a large metal ball into a bowl. It will stop in the centre of the bowl, and that centre has a red light that blinks on and off at a steady rate. Pick a colour, pick a strength, pick a release point.

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Key moments

The programme had already found itself mired in controversy after it emerged that Nathan Hageman, who won £1 million on the first episode, had served time in prison for assault. It was reported the producers were aware of this fact, but not who he had assaulted. As a result of the media furore over Hageman's win, the programme makers re-assessed the contestants due to take part in the subsequent episodes. Two contestants were withdrawn, according to the hosts, 'due to unforeseen circumstances', and seven contestants competed in the episodes affected instead.

During the second edition of series two on 25 August 2012, Chris Fryer won the show and had a chance to win £500,000 on The Vortex. In this game, the ball was about to land on Black but the colour changed to Red and Chris went home with nothing. After the show, the independent adjudicator had a look back at footage from a smaller camera beneath the Vortex, and found Chris's ball landed on Black just milliseconds before it changed to Red. After looking at the footage, the producers reversed their decision and gave Chris the £500,000.

Red or Black made television history on 8 September 2012, when it became the first British game show to give away a cash prize of more than a million pounds. Graham Fletcher, a carpenter from Reading, won the double rollover jackpot of £1,500,000.


Simon Cowell

Theme music



Reportedly the most expensive game show ever, costing £15 million to stage.

Despite the original end game using a piece of equipment which is inherently linked to gambling, the programme carefully avoids the strict laws surrounding gambling, as the contestants are not risking their own money.

Web links

Official site

Wikipedia entry

The show publicised the hashtag #redorblack.


First few minutes of the very first episode.

See also

Heads or Tails - which also offered £1 million on a 50/50 gamble.

Red or Black? reused the names of other game show elements - Duel had been a primetime show on ITV, and The Vortex first appeared on The Adventure Game.

Weaver's Week reviews: 2011 and 2012


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