The Edge



Series 1: Mark Benton

Series 2: Gabby Logan


Commentator: David Corkill (series 2 only)


BBC One, 16 March to 13 November 2015 (50 episodes in 2 series)


Quiz show combining general knowledge and bowling.

Series 1 host, Mark Benton.

All the action takes place on a set lit in the BBC daytime colours of black and black. On the floor are four narrow bowling lanes of different lengths - coloured green, blue, yellow and red in increasing order of length - and behind these lanes are four podiums.

The EdgeThe set.

At the start of the game, four contestants stand behind these podiums, each with a ball at the bottom. They're asked simple general knowledge questions on the buzzer, with a correct answer moving that contestant's ball up their podium (no laughing, now). The first contestant to give four correct answers, and thus get their ball to the top of their podium, gets to choose which of the four lanes to bowl on. The other contestant's podiums are then reset, and the whole process is repeated twice more, until the last contestant has only one lane to choose from.

The heat is on, the time is r... oh, balls.

Eventually, it's time to bowl. Though the lanes are of different lengths, each ends with the same series of cash zones and the titular Edge. The cash zones start at £1, followed by £10, £50, and all the increments of £50 up to £950, while the Edge is worth £1000. The lanes are separated by rails, so that balls cannot stray into neighbouring lanes. They can, however, still roll off the Edge - in which case no money is earned.

Contestant picks up ball = Cue flash white lights and dramatic tension music.

The four contestants bowl one ball each. Though they've chosen their lanes, the order in which they bowl is in increasing length of lane, with the contestant on the green lane going first. The contestant with the first choice of lane, therefore, may pick a longer lane so they know the target they're aiming for.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

Whoever bowls the least amount of money leaves the show with nothing. If there's a tie, there's a one-ball bowl-off, closest to the Edge without going over wins. Afterwards, the shortest green lane is closed off for the remainder of the game.

Teetering and teetering.

The three remaining contestants face another round of buzzer questions. This time, each question has a two-part answer, with both parts required to move your ball up (stop tittering). Again, first to four correct gets the first choice of lane, the other contestants' podiums are reset, and the whole process is repeated.

Second time at the lanes, each contestant bowls two balls, again in order of increasing length of lane. The cash zones remain the same, but the Edge is now worth £2000. The first contestant to qualify gets a standard lane, but the second contestant must face one randomly-assigned "danger zone" - which replaces one of the cash zones with £1 - and the third contestant must face two "danger zones". Whoever bowls the lowest combined amount is off the show empty-handed (regardless of what they bowled in the first round), and the blue lane is closed off.

The EdgeA danger hole in the yellow lane.

The two remaining contestants face yet another round of buzzer questions, now with three-part answers. First to four not only gets to choose either the yellow or red lane, but also gets to place one "danger zone" on their opponent's lane. Each contestant bowls three balls, with the Edge now worth £3000. Whoever bowls the lower combined amount goes home penniless, the yellow lane is closed off, and the last remaining contestant goes through to the final with all the money they've accumulated.

In the final, the contestant must land a ball on the longest red lane's Edge to win some, or all, of their money. First, they face one last round of questions, with four-part answers, lasting 75 seconds. Each question correctly answered extends the Edge by the length of two cash zones. Afterwards, the contestant must decide how many balls they want: one ball to win all their cash, two for half the amount, or three for a third. If they succeed in landing on the Edge in fewer balls than they decided on, they win only the proportion corresponding to their decision (e.g. if they decide on two balls and succeed in one, they win only half the amount). If all their balls fail to land on the Edge - whether coming up short or rolling off - they leave with nothing.

The EdgeA long Edge, a tricky decision.

Viewers had a number of problems. The "danger zones" subtracted from the spectacle, and the final used just one of many ways to make the game easier. Mostly, there was too much quiz and not enough bowling. Resetting the scores to zero smacked of padding the programme to fill a slot.

The second series mixed things up a bit, though not enough to rescue the format. Out went the interminable wait for everybody to qualify and in came players bowling as soon as they qualified - hooray! But the substitution of Gabby Logan for Mark Benton didn't really make a lot of difference, and the addition of actual bowls commentator David "Corky" Corkill seemed like a good idea but he only had about five seconds to say something, and there weren't really any variables for him to talk about, so what was the point? A far better tweak would have been to cut the filler and bring the show down to a pacey 30 minutes, but BBC daytime just doesn't operate on that basis.


"The game show with brains — and balls!"

"Let's roll!", said before every single bowl.


Jamie Ingley and Mark Espley, developed by Leon Wilde and BBC Entertainment London team

Theme music

A full score was written by Marc Sylvan.


Before the recording starts, players are allowed some practice rolls, so they can gauge the strength they need to overcome friction in the playing surface.

External links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

Show discussion and recording report from Bother's Bar.

Fifty 50 discussion

Opening titles from the BBC Motion Graphics Archive

See also

Weaver's Week review

Quiz Bowl, a quiz show based on American football.


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