Sitting on a Fortune



Gary Lineker


Possessed and Potato for ITV, 7 November 2021 to 9 July 2023 (13 episodes in 2 series)


The one where Gary Lineker has a row of chairs.

Gary Lineker (right) and a row of chairs.

Whoever's in the golden front seat, the money chair, answers some general knowledge questions. A right answer keeps them in the running. A wrong answer sends them to the back of the line, and the next contestant will take their place. Whoever's in the money chair at the end of the show could win £100,000.

In the first round, the player who gives the third correct answer will go forward to the final. Not the first, not the second, but the third right answer. Whoever's at the back – whoever gave the last wrong answer – is out of the game entirely. The questions are all multiple choice, four possible answers only one of which is right. No lifelines, though one of the answers is usually there for comedy.

... is the wrong answer.

As the round progresses, Gary has a chat with the players as they reach the front seat. We viewers can see the reactions of the players behind the front seat, but the player in the money seat isn't allowed to turn round and look at them.

Players draw an order to choose their initial seats: people tend to fill from the middle out, leaving the first and last seats to the end. (For the second series, this was all done backstage, and contestants walked out to take their place on their allocated chair.) There's a further twist, as the four remaining players in the second round choose their chairs in their finishing order from the last round – whoever was closest to the front gets first dibs.

"He's the hurricane" says the polesitter, to the dismay of contestants behind.

Second round is almost exactly the same as the first: the third right answer takes someone to the final, and whoever's at the back is off the show. The questions are not terribly demanding, but the contestants on some episodes are very good at getting them wrong. By nature, you can't edit around bits of Sitting on a Fortune, they have to show every question and every error.

All these errors mean we get a lot of practice at seeing people go from the front of the line to the back. Everyone walks on their right, so the player retreating is closer to the camera, and walks past everyone moving forward.

Walk yourself back.

For the third round, Gary introduces a new rule. The player in the back chair picks one of two categories for the player in the money chair. It's the player in the money chair who will answer the question, and only two correct answers are required to end the round.

We'll use this idea again in the show's final. The back player picks the category, the front player answers a question in that category. The front player is allowed to ask for help from the players behind, but the players behind might not want to give helpful "help".

And, unlike the earlier rounds, this final consists of a precise length. So far, we've had eight correct answers, and as many errors as the team can fit in. This final round consists of precisely seven questions. Whoever gives a right answer to the seventh and final question wins the titular Fortune.

A good answer: no money leaves the pot.

Remember the "fortune" in the title? Starts at £100,000, but each incorrect answer in the final reduces it by £10,000. If the player in the front seat can't answer a question correctly, the pot reduces by £10,000 and the player goes to the back. If the player in the front can't answer the final question correctly, the pot reduces by £10,000 and the player is out of the game. The next player back has three options for a smaller pot; it's possible that the last player can have two options for a much smaller pot.

Gary Lineker hosts Sitting on a Fortune with a firm and fair grip. He can read the autocue, and he understands the rules well. Most importantly, he makes the format's slight complexities seem very simple.

Almost every week ends with a big winner.

The show went out at 7pm on Sunday, a slot traditionally filled by light family-friendly fare (Tipping Point celebrity shows last year, Catchphrase back in the day). Sitting on a Fortune is light and family-friendly, gentle quizzing, and we get to know a little more about the contestants as the show goes on. Gary is able to slowly dial up the tension as the show continues, until we're properly cheering for the players at the final question.


The Possessed team

Title music

Jode Steel & David Wainwright, credited for "Music".


Recorded at Dock10, MediaCityUK in Salford.

Here's how Possessed described the show in their press release:

SIX players. SIX chairs. NO lifelines. And £100,000 at stake.
Who will find themselves in the perfect place at the perfect time for the chance to take home a life changing prize?
Hosted by football legend Gary Lineker, this pulse-quickening quiz features six players all trying to be in the right place at the right time to take away a potentially life-changing amount of money.
The new ITV Entertainment format, a co-production by ITV Studios labels Possessed and Potato, features no lifelines, safety nets, or chances to walk away, meaning players must risk everything on getting the right answer in the hope of taking home the big prize.
In a unique twist, players take to the stage and position themselves in a row of seats, one behind another. Where you sit makes all the difference as only the player in the chair at the head of the line gets the chance to answer questions, stay in the game and have the chance of winning the jackpot.
One wrong answer sees a player relegated to the back of the line and in real danger of leaving with nothing and someone else moves up to take pole position. One player’s success could instantly be another player’s ruin.
With the jackpot mounting, there can be only one winner. Who can stay in the hot seat long enough to take away up to £100,000? In this show there really can only be one player left sitting on a fortune.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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