A terrible, manipulative and mercenary show but not any worse or better than the countless others out there
In January 07 the Times ran a story about ITV's "Quizmania" being ruled guilty of breaching broadcasting rules by regulator Ofcom. The judgement was based on the fact that the quiz was not being conducted fairly and centred around a specific question of "things that you find in a woman's handbag". The answers were: contact lenses, mittens, umbrella, ibuprofen, driving license, dog, rubber band, false teeth, dog biscuits, balaclava and Rawlplugs (the plastic things you put in a wall to hold a screw in place). Unsurprisingly Ofcom ruled these "unreasonable answers to what appeared to be a straightforward question".
Of course anyone who has seen more than a few minutes of this type of shows will not be surprised by this because this is how this works the answers seem obvious, it should be easy to grab £200 and get out right? Wrong. The Times found that on one four hour episode of ITV's "The Mint" picked at random, that 400,000 calls tried to get through but only 1 in 400 got further than a recorded message telling them to try again. Then consider the odds of answering the handbag question correctly and you start to understand the game. The game is money. Not giving it out but taking it in that is.
The channel ITV Play made £9 million in the first six months on air. It didn't make this by giving it away, it made it by high premium phone calls and low winning odds combined with the constant suggestion that it is easy. This is done by the presenters egging on the viewers and the questions often seeming to be quite easy and obvious. Of course the reality is you will struggle to get through and even when you do your answer of "lipstick" or "makeup" won't cut it! Of course people have always made money off this type of scam but it is the mercenary and careless way it is done that bothers me with these things. Very little of that money they make is spent on sets and the delivery as it looks cheap. They are all the same with the quiz on half the screen and a presenter on the other, hovering behind a desk or wandering round a studio. Some of the sets are laid out like a plush room, others just have the bare minimum to get back. More often than not the presenters will be young woman looking at the camera with bright eyes and talking enticingly. I tell you though, it is a skill and some of them are brilliant at it. Ever had a conversation that is all small talk, you have time to fill and you're struggling? Now imagine doing that to a camera. For hours and hours. Several times a week. Some are terrible but often they are good at it. Of course as a skill I'd rather be a dentist or something like that and, although they do what they do, they are still grating to watch and I do hope they get paid enough to cover the pain they must feel about what they do they earn every penny.
Overall then, a terrible, manipulative and mercenary show but not any worse or better than the countless others out there. Hundreds of thousands of people watch these shows and call them religiously but nobody buys a lottery ticket because it is a nice colour. So it is here nobody pretends that it is good entertainment or responsible, well put together quizzes; rather it is viewed by "it could be me" types and run by "it's always going to be us" types. Makes you hark back fondly to the days of 4 channels and pre-24/7 broadcasting.
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