Win Beadle's Money
Grundy for Channel 5, 2 August to 22 December 1999 (52 episodes in 1 series)
Hooray! Someone's had the bright idea of making a UK version of this engaging US comedy quiz.
Hooray! They haven't buggered around with the format!
Hooray! It's actually quite good!
Win Ben Stein's Money has been a hit show on the cable channel Comedy Central in the States for some time. Each week, contestants would try to beat Ben Stein (think a political version of Brian Sewell and you're nearly there) at his own game - answering fairly tough general knowledge questions for a $5000 cash jackpot.
Sadly, in this UK version, starring popular prankster-type person Jeremy Beadle, only £1000 is up for grabs. However, this doesn't matter too much - look on the bright side, it's higher budget than C5 shows 100% or, shivver, Move on Up - more of which in a moment.
So, to the game. Three contestants are introduced by the co-host, fast-talking wise-cracking Geordie, Richard Morton (who gets far more opportunity to shine here than he ever did in Move on Up). He also introduces five funny-ha-ha categories (example: "You Cannot be Series" for a numerical series question), each worth £10 to £30 per question.
After a contestant chooses the category, the cash value is revealed and the question is read out by Jeremy Beadle. The first player to buzz in gets to answer. Incorrect answers don't have any penalty. Correct answers earn the relevant cash amount and the chance at a £10 bonus question.
After a fixed time, the round ends and the player with the lowest cash amount goes home penniless, for Beadle gets to grab any money they had won.
In round two, things get interesting, because Beadle actually replaces the hole left by the lowest-scoring contestant, and competes to answer the questions head-on with the remaining two contestants. Hereon in, Richard Morton takes over the role of asking the questions, and in addition Beadle doesn't have any advance knowledge of the questions used either.
The questions in this round are worth between £40 and £100, and there are no bonus questions. If Beadle answers correctly, all he's doing is stopping the contestants from winning his money. Again, after a fixed time the lowest scoring contestant is eliminated and Beadle takes back any money they had won.
At this stage, we're left with the highest scoring contestant on £X and Beadle has £1000-X in his bank account. There then comes an excellent end game where the contestant and Beadle are put in isolation booths and, in turn, are asked the same ten general knowledge questions in one minute. If the contestant beats Beadle, they win all £1000. If they lose, they keep the £X they won before. If it's a tie, the contestant wins £X+200.
For those of you who are familiar with the US show, this version will seem very familiar. The production has stuck very closely to the US format (why fix something that ain't broke?), even down to the theme music, mannerisms, and jokes.
Unfortunately, there are a few things they have meddled with, and therefore don't work as well as they should. The main problem is the set, which uses a Roman forum theme instead of a library (as in the US version). This change is fine in theory. However, in practice they have a Roman forum mixed with a medieval stone wall, art deco podiums, and 1990s bank notes and computer monitors. Anachronisms ahoy.
The other meddle-point is the questions, which are easier than the US version, and there's more than a hint that many of them are straight from Trivial Pursuit. This leads to all three contestants trying to buzz in for the questions, which makes the game more luck than knowledge.
However, give credit where it's due - this is a soundly-handled conversion of a basic Q&A show that's going to be one of Channel 5's most watchable quizzes in ages. So hooray for that.
The end game, of which you can hardly ever predict the outcome.
Based on the US show Win Ben Stein's Money.
Beadle lost 8 times in the 52 epsiodes.